Updated: Jul 2, 2020
In response to unprecedented circumstances, Wolcott has been developing solutions to address new workplace pain points. Consider a few Work From Home (WFH) pain points from Wolcott’s holistic perspective, and learn more about bringing the professional workplace into employees’ homes.
As part of our HomeWork project, Wolcott’s WFH solutions can bring the professional office to employees’ homes. You can review the entire package and WFH concept here.
In developing these WFH solutions, Wolcott considers a holistic perspective. We won’t offer a full review here, but just highlight some dimensions around how WFH causes stress and potential design pathways that can improving the situation.
Emotions Under Stress: The Need For Nature
A 1984 paper in the journal Science reported on an experiment that tested the power of nature to relieve stress and heal the human body. In it, patients recovering from gall blader surgery who were arbitrarily assigned to rooms with a view of nature recovered significantly faster than similar patients stuck in a room facing a brick wall. Patients looking at trees experienced less pain, too.
Since that study came out, many more studies have verified this simple truth. When individuals are under pressure, encounters with unthreatening natural environments have a stress reducing or restorative influence. Alternately, many urban environments tend to hamper recovery from stress.
More recently, designers have begun to promote “biophilia” through design. Biophilia, a concept introduced by the biologist E.O. Wilson, refers to the natural affection humans have for other living beings and living systems. Biophilic design puts people into more meaningful connection with natural things or the natural environment.
In Wolcott’s WFH experience, for example, we’re creating opportunities for air purifying plants and plant walls that can harness the benefits of living things. It’s a simple design solution backed by research and experience. It’s also nice to look at. We encourage everyone to bring more plants (and animals) into your home office these days.
Bodies Under Stress: The Need For Home Ergonomics
For physical therapists, business is booming in the pandemic. Many people working from home are yearning for the chairs they left behind at the office, and some are even finding creative ways to sneak back and steal them for their home. It’s a direct result of people hunched over laptops without a healthy setup to support their back and neck. Even before the pandemic, OSHA cited work-related musculoskeletal disorders as among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time.
And as we move from temporary stopgaps to a longer term view of WFH, lawyers and HR experts are starting to look at rule changes around everything from productivity, attendance, and liability, including workplace injury which could be caused by poor ergonomic setups. “A lot of injuries that occur for people working remotely at their house will be compensable. Your home is now your workplace,” said Robert Fitz-Patrick, an attorney at Hall Estill. Organizations of all sizes, even small businesses, are potentially liable for worker injuries at home if they are authorized to work remotely. Insurance companies have been reaching out to their clients with new guidelines and recommendations, including more careful monitoring and review of workplace setup.
Dining room tables and living room couches may be comfortable for a few days, but are not conducive to healthy human form over a longer term. Meanwhile, professional workplaces—including spaces designed by Wolcott for many years now—include the latest technologies and health insights around ergonomics.
So although many companies are now offering home-office funds—typically in the range of $500-1000 per employee—just 14% of American companies are paying for ergonomic office furniture, according to a recent survey by Mercer. And even when they have those funds to spend, no amount of news clickbait or Instagram images can match the level of expertise professional workplace designers possess around how to create ergonomic setups.
Even after the pandemic subsides, remote work will likely persist. WFH ergonomics is fast becoming a necessity. We would like to see more elements of the professional workplace brought into employees’ homes, especially elements that improve ergonomic health.
Brains Under Stress: The Need For Hope
Since the pandemic began, we’ve all read n countless reports of general anxiety, including tales of lost sleep, loneliness, and lack of connection.
People have had to invent new vocabulary to try to put what’s happening into words. One cultural trend stood out as especially alarming: “Doomscrolling Is Slowly Eroding Your Mental Health.” Of course, we had to click on that one.
What is doomscrolling? The LA Times defined it as "an excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of dystopian news.” Staying up late into the night scanning social media alerts and the latest news, constantly gravitating toward the most distressing stories. It’s a ripe moment to learn about so-called murder hornets (mostly hype, apparently…thankfully!)
We are being flooded with information right now, most of it new, much of it shocking. According to Nicole Ellison, communications professor at the University of Michigan, there’s a “lot of demand on cognitive processing to make sense of this. There’s no overarching narrative that helps us.”
A well-designed WFH space can offer more simplicity, clarity, and focus. No, that won’t solve the world’s problems. But it can provide people with the chance to relax a little and be present. A well-designed home space helps people focus on what they can control, even if that’s simply what’s on their to-do list. And that’s something a lot of us need right now.
Wolcott’s WFH solutions can bring the professional office to employees’ homes. It’s a flexible solution for stress relief, of all kinds. Review the entire package and WFH concept here. And then connect with Wolcott to talk more.