Colour consultant Latika Khosla suggests how to inject a feeling of comfort and personality into your home offices.
Latika Khosla is on the board of the Color Marketing Group USA and the founder-organizer of Colors India. She is also the founder-director of Freedom Tree, a wholly-Indian, colour-led lifestyle brand with retail presence in Parel, part of Mumbai’s trendy mill district. Latika’s studio, Freedom Tree Design, undertakes colour consultancies and design assignments.
We spend at least a third of our lives in that microcosm called the modern office: a breeding ground for healthy rivalry, close friendships and, sometimes, even that special someone. A place to fulfill ambitions, and maybe chase a few dreams. We work in the world of ideas. Even the notion of an office is an idea. It is a table in some ones home, a slim hot-desk in a corridor, a plastic seat and plug point at some transit airport. Ideas travel. We share them with our colleagues and clients. As time turns to dark and light dawns elsewhere, time and space boundaries blur. As do distinctions between work and home in a 24/7 world space.
Workspaces have evolved, influenced by social and rapid technological changes. If mechanical devices enclosed us in the 20th century office. The electronics of the 21st century are freeing us from this box. Smart technologies like the internet, the email, mobile telephones and conferencing have redefined the way work functions — sleeker table-top spaces, minimal storage and connections with people who we may never meet otherwise. Our screens are the windows to the world.
I meet many people today who are doing wonderful things. Senior management professionals who, in a second life, are starting out on internet businesses from small offices. For others who work in the telecom industry or as writers or designers, their home is an idea-generating workspace. To work from home needs a little infrastructure, a lot of discipline and a belief in the culture of ‘home-work’. For many years, I worked from an office attached to my home, at a time when the work culture did not support working from home. I learnt a few wonderful lessons!
What’s in a name
For starters, the most important thing was to give the place an identity. It wasn’t an office or a home, so we called it the studio. This is essential so that your colleagues and clients know it’s a place of work. Naming the space may even give you cues to design its interiors. If it is a consultant’s office, with you being the point person, you may want it to be more personalized and a little formal. You are the star. Your credentials can be framed on boards and an area can be created for one-to-one conversations. Here, textures and materials need to be more refined. On the other hand, if it is a creative ‘studio’, quirky juxtaposition is the norm. Pinboards to share work in progress, a space for ideation and lots of storage for incubating ideas and references are mandatory.
Getting to work everyday
The first thing is maintaining personal discipline. Every morning, like clockwork I would wend my way to ‘work’. Once I had left the ‘house’ with my computer bag, it was understood I was at work. No house guests or maids with bhajiwala requests could disturb me.
To keep this up, you need an office interior that makes you want to get to work! Crisp or graphic, creative or inspiring, take your pick. But above all, it must be welcoming, and allow focused work. A super comfortable work chair, a clear desk, neat storage, and an area for rest and relaxation.Try never having to walk back into the home to rest!
Alone but connected
Internet and connectivity enable us to work offsite and alone, but also be in touch with the world. Offices still remain the physical setting for us to meet, connect and do business. But we strive for a varicoloured experience when we start to work autonomously. Many of us may consider hiding wires and routers behind small, cupboard-like storage units or under the desk on catch-all wireframes.
As we go wireless, home offices are increasingly becoming less cluttered. We work off a laptop and high-speed connection via smart wireless solutions. Thus, your home office can be a cupboard in your dining room that transforms into a workspace when open.
Keeping things in order is the biggest bugbear for anyone. Whether at work or at home, our human need to pigeonhole everything is overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information to be organized. There are soft copies and papers. Printers and phones. Samples and prototypes. Files and cards. Everything has to have a place in a home office. Mainly because you are the office!
If you do not have a separate room, place a screen to cordon off the workspace. If you use the dining table, create storage on castors that be wheeled to your place of work. Pinboards are a fabulous way of keeping critical information accessible at all times. Give them your creative touch with a trendy, graphic fabric to make it fit into a home interior. Use an attached bath space/corridor to store less-needed materials, so that they do not clutter up precious work area. Baskets, boxes, cupboards, plastic folders, mugs… can all be commandeered for organizing.
Think of the home office as a multipurpose space. It needs to transform into an elegant space quickly if you’re receiving a client. People like coming to smaller, intimate workspaces, because they can have a focused conversation away from the usual office disturbances. Don’t bother to hide your personal touch. Let people see your favorite books, plants and even a prized toy. Today, business is not about building monuments but making strong connections and personal associations.
Have a place that you can move to for a comfortable chat. A monitor will help you present important information. If your work is more ‘things’, then a central table or a console can be made ready in advance with books or samples of whatever you want to lay out.
The hardest part about working from home is knowing when to shut down. Place a ritual or routine around that time. At the end of the day, the workspace needs to morph back into a relaxed place that absorbs the wonderful spirit of your home.
And tomorrow is just another energizing day at your home office!
Some more images…