The pandemic had a side effect that caught some people off guard: it ushered in the era of remote work. Sure, some people worked from home on occasion, but there is a whole new generation of remote workers now, even as the pandemic begins to recede. For many, working from home will be permanent.
“The last two years have been a whirlwind! At first, consumers scrambled for any solution they could find as the home became the center of work, school and entertainment, so it wasn’t rare to see people working on the coffee table, the kitchen table, the floor,” says Dave Adams, VP of marketing for BDI furniture.
It wasn’t long before people began to look for longer-term solutions, creating a huge demand for home office furniture of all varieties. The real estate market reports buyers are looking for homes with dedicated office spaces, signaling a continued growth in this sector for the foreseeable future.
There has been a growth of multipurpose work solutions, such as the side table that doubles as a laptop desk, the console that is your workstation by day and a buffet at night, the coffee table with a top that lifts to turn into a workspace.
These types of inventive solutions are creating workspaces where there was no space. This is even more important today when in many cases, households may have more than one person working from home—making finding places to work more challenging.
For those who are working from home permanently, designing the perfect home office is top priority. Basic office essentials certainly include a good chair and desk, though having good lighting, shelving and décor are key elements in a home office as well.
“When designing for our office category, we have one main goal in mind: to create innovative solutions that make the lives of our customers easier. And if there is one place where this mission is so important it is in the workplace, where comfort leads to increased productivity and efficiency,” says Matthew Weatherly, associate design director with BDI.
For office desk chairs, both ergonomics and comfort are two characteristics to keep in mind, especially when considering the average time spent seated at work is more than 5 ½ hours per day.
For many, this can lead to body aches, long-term muscle and nerve pain and fatigue. With that in mind, the BDI designers explored the ideal sitting position when designing their new Voca office chair, which features adjustable seat heights and depths, adjustable height armrests, adjustable backrests, comfort headrest, lumbar support and tilt tension control.
Weatherly points out that an individual’s legs ideally should sit at a 90-degree angle, with feet flat on the floor. “This posture supports blood circulation, which can help a worker remain comfortable and in turn, productive.”
June Sedlak Mooney, owner of Studio J in the Columbus area, says many customers are drawn to Stressless brand chairs, like their Wing chair for comfort and lower back support. A lever under the seat adjusts the Wing’s seat height, and the sitting position is adjusted simply by using body weight.
Another favorite is the X-Chair thanks to its features. “You can adjust the seat depth, the seat height, the back is adjustable up and down, you can get it with and without a headrest, and the arms can go in and out. You can adjust the tension of how easily it leans back, and you can lock it into place when you do lean back,” she explains.
Our smart watches remind us to stand up when we’ve been sitting too long. Now, there are adjustable, stand-up desks that give us the option. It’s no secret these days that standing for periods of time throughout the workday is a healthy habit, so having a desk that can adjust to the ideal position—whether on your feet or while seated—is critical. Adding a padded mat while standing is another good idea.
“Similar to the way your legs should flex while seated, the number to keep in mind is 90. In both seated and standing positions, your arms and wrists should form 90-degree angles, allowing your wrists to land comfortably on the surface of your desk,” says Weatherly. For seated desks, 29-inches is the industry standard for surface height. However, the BDI team found that 27-inches is actually the ideal height for most workers.
An office plant is cheerful and provides a touch of the outdoors when you’re stuck indoors, slaving away at your work chores. Not only does greenery contribute to the aesthetic, but it can give you a psychological boost and increase productivity.
If you have no source of sunlight in your office, choose low maintenance plants that can thrive without it, such as a pretty calathea, a peace lily, bamboo, English Ivy, or Chinese Evergreen. The latter has the advantage of being an effective air-filtering plant.
Natural light is ideal for offices, but even if your home office has windows or diffused ambient lighting, supplementing with desk lamps is essential. A desk light is preferable to the glare of an overhead lamp. For example, task lighting for the desk is important, particularly one that is adjustable and that can be focused where you want it. Lamps with smart features—such as dimmers and brightness sensors—can greatly add to its functionality.
SHELVING AND CABINETS
Home office cabinets do not have to resemble the industrial steel gray cabinets of old. Mooney said that there is a selection of nice-looking file cabinets in wood, and people can choose cabinets to blend in with other office furniture. In fact, sometimes, cabinets and desks are sold as a matching set. She adds open bookcases will be trending.
Article by Hilary Daninhirsch
Article originally appeared in May 2022