A few hundred years ago, there wasn't a clear separation between work and home. Most people were farmers and they lived on the family farm. Even crafts people who lived in town typically lived above their shop.
It's a relatively modern concept that home means rest and recreation. Historically, home was a place where essential work occurred.
So it is perhaps not as ironic as it might seem at first glance that some people want their office to feel homey. After all, the comforts of home were historically about helping people be more productive.
So how do you inject a sense of "homeyness" into an office to enhance productivity? Here are a few tips.
Have A Variety Of Work Station Options
Back in the day, you needed a typewriter or PC to work. The PC needed to be physically plugged in and hooked up to peripherals, like a printer. But this is no longer true.
These days, people can be productive on a laptop or tablet. Some people even manage to get good mileage out of their smart phone, dictating notes, making business calls and more while they wander the building. Peripherals can be accessed via WiFi or Bluetooth.
So no one needs to be chained to a desk anymore. If they are happier and more productive lounging on a couch or standing at a counter, they should have that option. Your bottom line will thank you.
This means you can outfit your office with a variety of standard home seating options, such as couches, leather chairs and funky artsy seating on wheels. You don't need to be limited to boring, cookie cutter office seating. You can find everything in places like Sohomod.
It also means you can provide a variety of surfaces to park a laptop on. These can include tables with chairs, coffee tables with floor pillows, countertops that are comfortable for standing at and even the occasional desk.
Natural Light And Planrs
Florescent lighting is one of the reasons to hate the old style office. Big windows, lots of natural light and a few actual live plants will go a long way towards making workers feel like people, not zombies just working for the weekend.
An Old Dining Table
Families used to be bigger and feeding everyone was an ongoing chore. Without refrigerators and other modern conveniences, cooking dinner was a big production that happened daily.
All this food was served up on a large kitchen or dining table that sat night or more people. Those tables are far too big for most modern families, but they can make great conference tables.
Instead of pairing them with dining chairs, try finding old wooden school chairs or chairs on wheels that are easy to move. It doesn't have to be a perfect match. In fact, part of the point of going for a homey look is to avoid things being too matchy.
Shop For Used Items
Check online auctions or local estate sales to find things that have great character at a bargain price. It's a little more time consuming than pulling out a catalog and ordering complete sets of matching office furniture, but the end result is well worth it.
You Still Need Lighting And Electricity
Although laptops can go just about anywhere, they still need electricity. Make sure you have an abundance of outlets that are handily available wherever people may want to go. A variety of lighting options will help people see on overcast days or when working late. An abundance of natural light does not mean you get to skimp on task lighting or other lighting needs.
Whenever you get a bunch of people together for any reason, cleanliness is a real concern, if only for health reasons. This is part of why offices that are carpeted tend to have industrial carpeting.
A great alternative to sterile office tile floors or industrial carpeting is a wood floor. It has better acoustics than tile while being cleaner and more homey than industrial carpeting.
It's also got tons of visual appeal. Wood flooring is a great way to visually warm up a space.
A Warm Color Scheme
An easy way to make a space feel more like home is to inject some color. White walls and drab decor are exactly why some people hate going to work.
This is not hard to do and doesn't have to be expensive. Start with doing a little research and picking a color palette. You can inject a bit of hominess into any space by painting the walls and getting a few accessories, like lamps and a throw rug.
Skip The Cubicle
Cubicles conveniently divide up space, but they are associated with the worst office culture cliches. There are far better ways to visually divide up space.
Use furniture groupings, throw rugs and even different types of flooring to demarcate different areas. You can even hang curtains that can be used to temporarily divide an area into smaller rooms.
Curtains can also do a lot to improve the acoustics of the space. Too many hard surfaces make for an unpleasant acoustic experience.
Echo Old Fashioned Home Decor
Modern homes can be stuffed to overflowing with too many possessions. But this wasn't always so. Homes used to be more spartan.
That spartan vibe of older homes can be the perfect note to hit for trying to make an office more homey without undermining productivity or making it excessively high maintenance.
Remember that the point of business is to make something of value at a profit. While making the space homier can enhance productivity, going overboard can be a financial and time burden that is actually counterproductive.
You probably don't want shag carpeting, a bar full of alcohol or a full on home theater. It should be homey in a way that makes people comfortable while working, not a space that suggests we are party animals on a permanent vacation.