Thanks to the evolution of technology, we literally carry our careers around in our pockets. It’s normal for employees to be outfitted with 24/7 access to cell phones with internet, so weekend e-mails, phone calls or late-night report writing means the grind doesn’t stop. But there’s a design concept gaining ranks for its ability to ease the impacts of our tech-saturated, go-go-go work lives.
Resimercial is a design hybrid: take elements of residential design and infuse them into commercial workspaces. There’s been a steady shift over the past two decades in how we think about workspaces. Telecommuting — either from home or perhaps a cozy coffeeshop — is increasingly common. Why? The reasons are multiple.
“Our lives are so entrenched in technology, so we seek balance in our work environments with the soothing elements of residential design,” says DIRTT interior designer Debbie Carruthers.
“We want things to be softer and we want to be comfortable.”
Research shows workspaces that provide comfort and lend to feelings of happiness are connected to increased productivity. (On the flip side, a study by coworking company Mindspace revealed that poorly designed workspaces can adversely affect productivity and mental health.) Details like crown molding, closets, media rooms, kitchens and even wine cellars can be added for a feeling of ease and comfort.
There’s also this: By the year 2020, millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) are expected to make up 50% of the workforce, according to a 2016 report by FMI. Millennials tend to blur the lines between home and work life, unlike other generations that compartmentalize them. They tend to believe a good work life is one that fulfills their desire to create something meaningful. Because of this mentality, comfort is critical. Traditional workspaces infused with residential elements can help attract and retain millennials. These work environments connect with their preferences and culture, without isolating other generations.
What does resimercial look like?
“It’s all about comfort and being creative,” says Carruthers. “Creating energetic spaces where people can get inspired.” Residential inspiration can touch anything from lighting and flooring to smaller details such as accessories and pattern choices.
Create a workplace that helps you get your money’s worth from the left and right brains of employees.
Think about the difference between commercial fluorescent overheads, versus natural daylight or soft-yellow recessed pot-lights. Resimercial design adopts the warmer and more varied lighting found in homes. We value windows with views and natural light in our homes, so it’s no surprise natural light is integrated in office space. “Lighting is everything in design,” says Carruthers. “You can create the most beautiful space, but without the right lighting it’s nothing.”
When the efficiency of our space is empowered by technology, we’re going to feel more comfortable. Large LCD screens built into the architecture. Coffee tables equipped with multiple plug-ins. Glass walls double as wayfinding, message boards and brainstorming opportunities. “The technology aspect hasn’t gone away,” says Carruthers. “It’s just softened.”
In a home, areas are designed to be comfortable, inviting and functional. And each room has a purpose. That’s where resimercial is headed. Businesses have tried using different layouts over the years. The argument between open-plan and private offices rages on. One thing is clear: There is no one-size-fits-all.
Touches of home in care facilities improve comfort for patients. Think of maternity hospitals, addiction treatment facilities, hospices, and anywhere patient-centered design is incorporated.
A residential-inspired design combines open space, private offices, phone booths, and common areas. When each space has its own unique aesthetic and functional aspects, it provides an environment for employees to thrive. It also creates those elusive moments where employees from different parts of the organization can learn more about each other and the challenges they face. “Hey, maybe I can help you!”
While the definition of the “office” will continue to change, the connection between employee happiness and productivity will remain a top priority in interior design.