There’s no denying that the modern workspace is changing. Where once we filed into preassigned beige cubicles and yearned for a corner office, or at least a door, today work can take place anywhere, at home, at a coffee shop, or increasingly at co-working space.
As we move away from work-life balance and toward work-life integration, the places we work and the places we live are blurred into one and we expect our work spaces to be more than just places we toil but places we live. Jeff Miller, VP of Design for office supply company Poppin, understands this better than most. We checked in with Jeff to get his view of office life in a mobile world. Poppin is dedicated to creating office supplies that are versatile but also fun with plenty of bright colors. As Jeff explains below, color is important not just because it makes us happy but because it can also keep us stimulated, alert, and creative.
The essential elements of a work interior, whether home or office, are increasingly overlapping. For me, the essentials have always meant basics of comfort, support and storage – an ergonomic chair, a solid surface to work on, and a place to hide and organize clutter. Ubiquitous technology has allowed these essentials to become even more untethered and simple. A home office in its own room provides ideal privacy, but new offerings abound that cleverly hide work access behind bureau doors or a chest of drawers. These solutions can turn the kitchen or bedroom or unused hallway into a meaningful work zone, in many cases even effectively shutting out the adjacent environment.
Meanwhile, studies prove that color boosts happiness, productivity and creativity, so residential neutrals and tones are no longer the order of the day. Blue can have a calming effect, while orange stimulates endurance for long-term projects. I believe if you organize your environment with color, your thoughts will be more organized and colorful.
2. Even though we are paperless in many ways, people still love office supplies, why do you think that is?
There is civilization.
The majority of these products have remained similar in function for centuries and are inherently imbued with the very idea of work itself. My own day’s work flows overwhelmingly through my laptop, but there is ritual and decorum associated with keeping these items in proximity to my desktop. Therefore more than ever these products are free to showcase a sense of individuality and vitality. We recognize that writing in your favorite notebook with your favorite colored pen brings great comfort. Poppin’s assortment is about ‘workstyle’ – designed to blend work and lifestyle seamlessly.
3. What specific considerations do people need to consider when designing their space in a co-working office?
Privacy and sound mitigation
Storage and unwarranted appropriation (aka theft)
4. With video conferencing, Facetime and Google Hangouts, often your home office becomes not just your office but your backdrop, how do you create a space that doesn’t just work for you but is a good background?
A flat painted wall is an ideal backdrop. Take care to create an uninterrupted and direct field of view normal to the wall’s surface, without extraneous elements of interior architecture. Raising your laptop 6-8 inches for video conferencing avoids an unflattering view of your face from below. If you’ve got great art behind you that enhances your persona then flaunt it. But when in doubt, leave it out. I once had to do a video conference from a hotel room in Asia and the only US socket for my laptop was in the bathroom. I sat on the floor with the refined cloth shower curtain as a backdrop. As long as nothing else got in the frame, it seemed convincingly like I was in a photo booth.
5. As virtual and augmented reality slowly become part of our worlds, how do you think that will change our relationship with physical spaces?
With immersive VR, there’s the real possibility that nobody needs to congregate in an office again. Maybe the physical space becomes less decorative and more exclusively physical like so many dystopian sci fi visions. Simple durable comfortable supports, props and tools that enhance the immersive experience will be the exclusive domain of the physical world, contrasted by wildly imaginative, shape-shifting virtual spaces and décor. Technology will increasingly force material products to work harder in order to merit their worth. I think we’ll continue to seek pieces with functional features that enhance how we use a physical space. The fast food and produce industry’s revolution toward wholesome quality gives some indication. For the relatively fewer real world essentials necessary when disconnecting from digital availability, people will crave quality crafted material authenticity.