When the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly forced millions to work at home, many people had to create makeshift offices. Kitchen tables became desks and closets were transformed into quiet zones for video conferences. Sound familiar?
These MacGyvered solutions worked—temporarily. As weeks turned into months, the shortfalls of makeshift home office areas became evident. From back and neck pain to isolation—with the added difficulty of shifting mental gears between home activities and work—the need for proper home office spaces skyrocketed as a necessity for the world’s growing hybrid workforce.
More employers are looking for new ways to support their employees’ well-being and success—whether they work at the office, home, or somewhere in between. In a hybrid work climate, helping employees maintain their workflow is vital. SimCorp, based in New York City, is a financial technology services company—and Haworth client—that opted to provide an office furniture purchase program for their employees. High-quality office seating, desks, and tools to enhance home office spaces for better workflow, productivity, and focus are now easily accessible.
As hybrid work evolves, it’s clear that work from home is here to stay. Employers are seeking new ways to support employees’ well-being and productivity. The Haworth team uncovered several key replicable factors that help employees, like those at SimCorp, best maintain their workflow between home and the office.
Mirroring the Workplace at Home
Research shows that routine and predictable spaces improve productivity and performance. Workers who lack a dedicated workspace at home miss out on the stability and ritual that is inherent when working in a traditional office. A home workspace like what is available at the office allows workers to reproduce their work routines at home—seamlessly supporting a normal flow of work.
SimCorp provided work-from-home employees with proper seating and height-adjustable desks—mirroring at-home work areas with the traditional office space—and quickly found that their efforts benefited employees’ well-being, productivity, and focus.
The Difference Supportive Furniture Makes
Alex Itri, a SimCorp HR Consultant, found that working at home in her small one-bedroom apartment at the beginning of the pandemic was physically awkward and affected her ability to work.
“My body felt the pain. I felt like I aged 70 years. I had this super old chair,” says Alex. “It was very uncomfortable, with a low back too, so there was no support at all. Just sitting down all day with no stand-up desk, I would just get so uncomfortable with my old setup. I would try to move to my bed or sofa just to sit somewhere more comfortably. Naturally, that makes you not want to work.”
With support from SimCorp, Alex received a new supportive chair and height-adjustable table for working at home. “Now it’s a lot easier for me to focus. The chair has made a world’s difference. I think more than anything because of having the back support. It was something I didn’t realize was so important to my ability to get work done.”
SimCorp Vice President of Consulting, Greg Nuckowski, likes how his new home office setup, with a desk that can be raised, allows him to move about throughout the day. “I tend to pace frequently when I’m on the phone. My former home setup didn’t allow me to do that naturally. I find myself standing much more now.” With new furnishings, Greg’s personal workstyle is better supported in his home office setup.
Predictable workspaces—with well-designed seating and desks—afford employees who work from home greater focus and comfort. Alex and Greg’s experiences parallel Haworth research that shows when users have control over their workspace, it allows them to make more efficient use of cognitive resources for high-focus activities. Plus, the ability to fine-tune individual workspaces and change posture throughout the day supports employee well-being.
Technology for Connection and Concentration
When mirroring elements of the workplace at home, three different layers of technology are important to consider.
Different work tasks and workstyles may lead employees to need different technology—like dual monitors, earbuds, headphones, a microphone for podcast recording, or a secondary camera for webinars and conference presentations. In SimCorp’s case, several employees were accustomed to using multiple screens when working at the office. The extra visual real estate created when dual monitor arms were introduced in the same employee’s home office now helps them work more productively and efficiently.
Most of the technology needed for productive work at home existed before the COVID-19 pandemic. Following last year’s stay-at-home orders for the benefit of public health, the most successful organizations and individuals rose to the challenge, adapted, and implemented the technology necessary to continue to do work.
Now that more people are skilled in using the technology that keeps us connected and helps us focus, work from home—at least some of the time—is permanent. Employers will need to continue investing in technology to keep their teams connected and information secure—as well as enhance their ability to attract and retain top talent.
Every job that gets done is supported at least in part by an individual. For this reason, it is worthwhile to look at how each person’s state of mind can affect performance in a hybrid model.
One of the five design features of a workplace that drives employee happiness is the ability for a person to adjust their primary workspace. When a business or corporation takes the time and makes the investment to support employees’ at-home workspaces, people feel valued and cared for. Those working at home are creating spaces that reflect their personality and complement their décor. The latest trends in home office design provide comfort along with a feeling of renewal and hope. When you mix personality, style, and high-quality furnishings, a home office becomes a productive and efficient workspace.
After SimCorp supplied new work-from-home setups through their customized Haworth purchasing program, employees felt a sense of relief.
“It felt like someone else was taking care of something that had been my problem to solve until then,” says Ronan Donnelly, SimCorp Vice President of Contract and Commercial Services. Easy ordering from the Haworth online store and home delivery made it simple for SimCorp employees to get the desks and chairs that best fit their needs and space.
Employers who want to fully embrace hybrid work models must recognize that structured workspaces at home, in addition to the traditional office, will help facilitate productivity and focus wherever employees do work.
To discover more about SimCorp’s hybrid work model that outfits employees with home workspaces to mirror what they have in the office, read the case study.