For Corporate Productivity to Work, Convert your Office into a ‘Home’

Remote work or working at home has been getting flack recently. While it seems to have been an inevitable result of technologies that allow one to work regardless of location, many managers and executives have been voicing concern that employees granted more flexible arrangements have been dipping in their productivity.

One study highlighted by Gallup shows that while remote workers can show engagement, only 20 to 25 percent do so. The behavior, motivation, and consistency in delivering the other 75 to 80 percent come into question.

Yet at the same time, no company executive can go against the tide of an emerging mobile workforce. My Mobile estimates that 40 percent of the entire global workforce will be working using mobile devices, plugged at home or in their favorite cafe, by as much as 40 percent. (And many do love to get their caffeine fix at Philz Coffee, if you happen to be in Silicon Valley.)

One option that has arisen that bridges these two working spaces can be described loosely as follows:  “making the office look and feel like a home.”

Quartz describes this emerging corporate architectural design as one that is conducive to making the employee feel comfortable. While traditional office spaces have been criticized for being too cold, formal, and even detached from employee concerns, this new model is actually made to entice the staff into staying longer in the office and working there.

This should not be confused with the tendency of tech companies in Northern California  to build gyms, cafeterias, and even billiard rooms across the main offices. Instead, corners in the actual working spaces are being converted into comfortable corners with cushioned sofas, small hangout hubs, and even a recliner or two. As one of the designers who specialize in this area puts it, the places must be friendly and warm enough to attract a stressed staffer into relaxing in it — while doing his corporate emails.

What are the advantages of having the cushion replace the cubicle? Or a more colorful den substitute for the staid desk?

Why not mine ideas from furnished apartments like how California Corporate Housing customizes accommodations to suit a guest’s needs. Yes, companies may want to look into how companies like California Corporate Housing can inspire them to convert their offices into a “home.”

First, it does keep the staffer-turned-potential-remote-worker right in the office. Some of these workers are millennials who want an environment that can unleash their creativity while neutralizing any anxieties. The new set up can enable them to keep on working and happily at that, without physically leaving the premises. The new designs can also be a temporary haven for those who just need a break from their desk jobs.

Second, the new design can be an avenue for workers to interact with each other. One of the criticisms leveled against working at home is that it prevents or reduces face-to-face interaction. Sometimes, slack just works too efficiently (what email, they ask?), or that daily standups are too brief.

Staffers who spend a lot of time outside the office and manage their schedules in their residences would not be inclined to build relationships with colleagues who they only touch base with in weekly web conferences. In some companies like Viome in Mountain View, though, the staffers hike together on weekends.

The new design, in contrast, can become a new digital and perhaps even more luxurious kind of water cooler where office workers can swap news, brainstorm on ideas, solve problems, and even cheer each other up during the tougher situations.

Third, the new set up can build morale. As Houston Chronicles elaborates, a more residential design can make the workforce feel more safe and secure. An atmosphere of trust and cooperation can grow. Potential combative sessions, usually unleashed in the boardroom or department meetings, can dissipate. The Bottom line — these relationships can in turn lead to a more productive workplace.

Redesigning a living or working space to align with its user’s temperament and objectives is not difficult. California Corporate Housing does it all the time, painting over accent walls, equipping their furnished apartment unit with the largest TVs, or making their bathrooms look like a spa with luxury bathroom products.

Enthusiasm about being surrounded by your favorite event can lead to productive energy. All it needs is a bit of imagination and creativity.