Death of the Home Office

The last time you worked from home, where did you set up shop? Your couch, bed, kitchen table or outside on your porch? A decade ago, a telecommuter wouldn’t have the leisure of posting up for the day on their couch. A telecommuter back then would need a full home office setup to be successful — a dedicated desk with a desktop computer, landline phone, printer and filing cabinet full of invoices and bank statements.  But in today’s ever-mobile world, the need for a traditional home office is slowly dying.

Today, with sixty percent of employers allowing workers to telecommute, more people than ever are burning the midnight oil at home. And thanks to laptops, tablets and Wi-Fi, remote workers can choose to work where they please. Whether it’s the couch, kitchen table or even poolside—the home office is slowing being erased from blueprints across the country.

According to a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article, “The home office has lost enough cachet that, as of the end of August (2016), the share of listings on real estate site Zillow that make special mention of one decreased by 20 percent from the previous year across the U.S.”

The article noted that while these rooms may still exist in homes that are listed, real estate agents aren’t seeing them as a key selling point like they once did, which has led to new shifts and trends in the homebuilding industry.

The article notes, “Current home design tends toward open floor plans, with an emphasis on flexible spaces and workspace nooks, says architect Paul Adamson, who operates out of the San Francisco Bay Area. Modern homes are also built with more wall outlets to allow for nomadic charging, and some even come with built-in USB ports, says Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow’s chief marketing officer.”

This style of homebuilding has become particularly popular among younger buyers. According to a 2016 survey by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, half of prospective buyers still say a home office is important, but younger buyers care less about dedicated workspaces in their prospective homes.

These “younger buyers” are mostly those of the millennial generation, which will make up 75 percent of the workforce in 2025. And as telecommuting continues to rise in popularity (especially among millennials and Gen Xers), this generation could continue to influence these types of home building trends.

As one of those lucky millennials who works from home occasionally, I too find myself falling into this trend of working anywhere but a dedicated home office or desk space. And while I noticed I fell into this category, I was curious to see if any of my fellow millennial co-workers worked this way as well.

Below are some responses from our very own PGi teleworkers on where they set up their work from home battle station and why. As it turns out, not many were keen on the idea of a defined “home office” either:

“I set up at my kitchen table. I pick that location to prevent distraction. I need to be sitting up, focused and not glancing at the TV or sinking into my couch or bed. I have to add a sense of formality to my remote work environment to keep me on track.”

Lauren P., Communications Manager

“I tend to set up on the couch or in the recliner — somewhere I can stretch out with my computer on a lap desk and get comfy. It also gives me plenty of room for my two dogs, who love snuggling when I work from home (WFH). I tend to WFH when I’m heads-down writing something or working on a project, so it’s less about efficiency (hence why not at a desk) and more about creating a comfortable space to dig in and get work done.”

Joshua E., Director of Corporate Communications

“I usually set up either at my kitchen table or at my desk, I like those spots because there is space where I can spread out and work and both areas are flooded with natural light.”

-Chelsea M., Communications Specialist

“I usually use dual monitors at a desk in a home office. I’d love to be able to work from my bed but I’m much more productive with dual monitors in an actual home office.”

-Catherine B., Digital Marketing Manager

“Because I have kids, it’s really hard – that means the hallways, kitchens, living rooms are off limits because I want to stay out of site so my nanny isn’t peeling my crying kids off my door! So I’m in my master bedroom because it has a bathroom AND bonus points – a door to the outside – which is key so I can escape and get lunch or run an errand without anyone seeing me!”

-Cora R., Project Manager

“I set up at our dining room table. My dog likes to watch for squirrels/sleep in front of a large window facing the street. I can see her when I sit at the dining room table, which keeps me happy while I’m working on big projects.”

-Kelly C., Senior Marketing Manager, Demand Generation

“If I had a desk in a dedicated office, that’s where I would be, but I have a lift top coffee table, so I set up there instead. I choose there because that is the only space I have really. The couch is comfy and the TV is there with news on for background noise.”

-Michael K., Senior Graphic Designer

“I work from my dining room table because I live in a one bedroom apartment. I work in there because it’s not a place of ‘rest’ like my bedroom or living room. It keeps me productive to sit at the table and it’s not a room I go in all the time so the scene is different.”

-Kaya R., Senior Manager, Public Relations and Social

“I work in one of three places – my bed, the kitchen counter and/or our home office. I choose my bed when I’m lazy and completing mindless tasks or trying to be creative where I need to be comfy. It’s the kitchen counter when I’m multi-tasking. When I’m taking a call or meeting or super consumed in something that requires me to be shut off from the rest of the household, I dip into the home office. Many times, I’m at all of these places throughout the day.”

-Elle C., Marketing Manager

Where do you set up your work from home battle station? Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

About Andrea D.