Founder & CEO of Sawyer & Company, a SoHo, New York-based boutique design studio.
When you live where you work, striking a balance between work life and personal life takes a considered effort. Many of us have been working from home for over a year now, and have likely become quite adept at being productive from our homes — an idea that may have seemed impossible two years ago. Yet, as our work productivity improves, striking that delicate balance between workspace and personal space becomes the next challenge to overcome in the “new normal.” With traditional work being reconsidered and new practices actively put in place by many companies opting for permanent remote work or hybrid structures, finding that balance will become fundamental for professionals at any level.
A great place to start when it comes to promoting work-life balance in your home is through design. With dramatic shifts in working and living situations, optimizing the spaces in which you must live and work to best fit your day-to-day needs will enable the flow of each day to come with greater ease. The design of one’s home can increase a sustainable work-life balance and maximize “public” spaces to accommodate hosting visitors — whether for work or pleasure.
Below are a few ways to accomplish the best work-life balance through considered design within your home:
Thoughtful Separation Of Spaces
The loss of separation between work and life is a new challenge that is ultimately the result of the lack of physical separation. I believe having designated areas for work and relaxation is key to maintaining a work-life equilibrium at home. If you do not have a separate room to designate as an office, try adding standing shelving to separate the work and living spaces. Fill the shelves with books, art pieces and small sculptures to make for a design-forward wall between the different areas that showcases your collection, while also allowing light to filter through.
Out of sight, out of mind. With constant access to your computer, it can be tough to shut off when the day is done. This can simply be combated by inventive furniture like fold-up desks or open-shut spaces that hide work setups away when it is time to unplug. Consider trying a fold-up desk, or a desk that can be rolled or tucked away, to open more space in your home and help you stay balanced.
Designate Your Personal Spaces
Post-work unwinding can be hard to do, especially when you are steps from the “office.” No matter the size of your space, ensuring there are designated spaces within your home that are dedicated solely to relaxation is paramount. This can be achieved by transforming your bathroom into your own personal at-home spa, setting up an at-home workout space or making sure your bedroom is a technology-free oasis filled with books, plush bedding, soft lighting and no desktops in sight.
In the past, meetings were held in stuffy offices — often bereft of design features and generally utilitarian. Now, even our personal spaces may turn into conference rooms. An impressive Zoom background is your new “event outfit.” Colleagues and distant relatives alike now see your home, and it is important to present oneself well.
With changes in travel habits, hosting guests in our spaces is likely, as many may prefer the comfort of a friend’s home to a hotel when traveling to a new city, or in lieu of a trip to a crowded restaurant. If you are hosting more than ever before, keeping the more public rooms in your home uncluttered, clean and functional is more important than ever. You can ensure that your public spaces are suitable for hosting without guests feeling like they are intruding or sitting in your workspace by applying hospitality logic to your rooms: The foyer inside the door is your “welcome moment,” a living room becomes the lobby or hotel great room and the kitchen is a place where everyone can connect.
When your home is more than just a home — also an office, personal gym, spa, entertainment space and more — it is easy to feel you have little control over your space. But with these design points in mind, your home can transform into a transitional space allowing for seamless conversion through all its many needs.