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Blurring the Line Between the Home and Corporate Offices
Interior Design Media
New York, New York, USA
Amanda Schneider
Date Published: 
Interior Design, Corporate Workplace, Home Office, Working From Home, Products, Furniture
Tapestry Statistics:
2020-06-10 18:55:51
2020-06-10 19:05:22
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early a year ago, ThinkLab wrote an article on the “Four Takeaways from the Residential Furniture Rent Model,” highlighting lessons the interiors industry could learn from the residential furniture model demonstrated through Fernish. Flash-forward to current times, and the same company, which originally set out to fuse the service component with flexible home furnishings, now reports a 300 percent increase in home office orders since the start of COVID-19-related quarantines.

When asked what this metric says about the future of the home office, Michael Barlow, cofounder and CEO of Fernish, puts it best: “In terms of long-term implications, not only will the handshake go away, but we’re looking at a new definition of the word office. How will it be defined? Will we see an ‘office’ model that consists of a fully furnished home and corporate office where employees spend two days in the office and three days at home?”

His statement comes at a time when companies like Accenture, Facebook, Twitter, and Shopify all recently announced that they will transition large portions of their workforce to permanent remote work facilities. So the question remains, how do these changes impact the future of the definition of office? More specifically, what are must-consider factors for building furniture that could fit in both the home office and the commercial space, and how do we make sure that there’s equal opportunity for productivity in both places?

The home office becomes a necessity, not a nicety.

Today, many people consider a separate home office to be a real luxury. In lieu of a true dedicated space, individuals choose to convert an extra bedroom or perhaps an unused corner in the living room into a semifunctional home office. But as our business circles now get a front-row seat to our living rooms via videoconferencing platforms, professionals are starting to recognize the value of a personalized home office.

As Dwayne MacEwen, DMAC Architecture principal and creative director explains, “As the tools to work from home get better, the next generation of buyers may start to look for homes where living spaces and working spaces are more defined or adaptable. Home office will no longer be thought of as an occasional-use space. These spaces are now being broadcast to the world. How do I look at the Zoom meeting? What does the background look like? How do the room acoustics make me sound? Is the lighting flattering? You might not need to wear pants to a meeting any more, but you will need to ‘dress’ the room for prime-time viewing. First impressions still matter!”

This sentiment is reiterated by Fernish metrics that reported a 90 percent increase in accessories/decor and a 40 percent increase in lamps used to create mood lighting since COVID quarantines were implemented.

Design for the home office cannot be inferior to the corporate space.

As major corporations make the decision to transition their workforce to remote offices, it goes without saying that productivity levels are expected to stay the same, if not rise, as employees work at home. But in terms of design, this also means offering a home office setup that mirrors the ergonomic and environmental benefits of the corporate space. And while many residential furnishing companies, including Fernish, admit to not having the same testing standards as commercial furniture dealers, this will be a core focus as buyers and designers look to merge the flexibility of a rental service from a company like Fernish, with the rugged durability of commercial-grade furniture.

After all, many commercial-grade furniture companies are recognizing that this new home office market will be a huge growth opportunity and are diving in to the market, with independent research quoted by Sylvain Garneau, chairman and CEO of Lacasse Group, suggesting that 25–30 percent of the workforce will work from home multiple days a week in 2021. To Garneau, while commercial-grade standards set his company apart from the Fernish model, the Lacasse Group sentiment toward service aligns well with Fernish’s.

He explains, “Service is a unique differentiator that commercial dealers deliver every single day. This includes delivery and installation service, always in a challenging delivery environment, leaving you with a complete and efficient workspace free from the clutter of wires that p