Work and Life Converge
As noted at the onset of this article, one of the primary drivers of the resi-mercial trend in interiors is technology. With people constantly on the go, juggling work and personal demands often simultaneously, the workday has extended far beyond the four walls of an office and typical 9 to 5 timeclock as employees increasingly seek balance between work and their personal lives.
“I think what’s happening is today people are becoming more connected, and the concept of work and workplaces continues to shift,” observes Daniela Barbon, ARIDO, LEED AP, director of interior design in HOK’s Toronto office.
“Especially with all of the mobile technology we have and not being tethered to a desk, the workplace kind of follows us home. Working anytime, anywhere is becoming more and more common.”
Barbon explains as more people work from home after office hours or as telecommuters, the comforts they are accustomed to in their residences are emerging in the workplace. Whereas the office was once characterized by a series of endless workstations, she says the landscape changed and softened—a transformation that can have a positive impact on employees’ wellbeing, another driver behind this trend.
CallisonRTKL Senior Designer Betsey Friedman, NCIDQ, IIDA, LEED GA, Seattle, adds: “The environment we surround ourselves in has an enormous impact on our physical and mental wellbeing, which has been a huge focus for workplace interiors. A resi-mercial environment that provides a home-like setting will reduce employee stress and boost their productivity.”
Friedman notes oftentimes employees don’t feel comfortable having delicate conversations in the middle of an open office or a formal conference room, so corporate environments now incorporate more relaxed settings for those interactions to take place naturally. “It’s an advantage that can be realized by taking down hierarchies that can stand in the way of collaboration,” she explains. “These [resi-mercial] environments help in attracting and retaining talent and that’s something employers are looking to do, so that can be another driver, as well.”
Although the term “resi-mercial” implies a distinctly residential feel and quality to commercial spaces, Barbon points out the trend is influenced equally—if not more so—by the hospitality market.
“When we’re looking at the softening of the workplace or the blurring of the lines, even though it might have a residential feel, it’s really the cues we take from the hospitality market that are important,” she explains. “If you think about it, it’s really about the drivers— the sense of arrival; the importance of first impressions; a sense of welcome; creating touch-points throughout the space that align with the brand internally and externally.” Additionally, Barbon says a sense of community is important in corporate offices today, “so the whole idea of creating social hubs—the lobby lounge, cafés, great rooms—even though there are those residential elements, qualities, and feel, it is the hospitality mindset and approach that really helps.”
Photos: Paul Warchol, courtesy of CallisonRT KL