Work from home in Singapore has become more of a norm since the COVID-19 pandemic and it has hugely impacted people’s day-to-day lives. With less people commuting to work these days, Singapore is seeing a shift in how people are buying homes. It has become important for architects and developers to fulfill the growing demand for dedicated work spaces in homes. Homes now need to become places of work, as much as for living, playing and resting.
The 21st Century Home Offices
Real estate in Singapore comes at a premium. Homes have become smaller over the years as prices go up with market trends. Developers that purchase land at higher prices have developed apartments that have smaller in areas but higher prices. Landed houses have also increased tremendously in prices over the past 2 years since the pandemic started mainly due to the need for more space at home.
With the new requirement for work at home, the ideals that most office workers take for granted in a corporate office now needs to be brought to the home environment. These include the modern technology, equipment, convenience and environment that an office offers. So, how should the Singapore architects respond to the need for this work space outside of their offices?
How The WFH Culture has Changed Home Designs in Singapore?
In Singapore, Architects reveal that they are now designing homes that include a designated room for a home office space. For multi-generational homes, this room can cater for both the adults as well as children who need to have home-based learning. These rooms are usually located on a common space at the second or intermediate floor, and usually separated from the bedrooms.
Good natural lighting is also desirable and these rooms are designed with large windows or with skylights. Room temperature is controlled by means of natural ventilation or mechanical ventilation, viz. with fans or air-conditioning. Technology requirements mean houses should have also the necessary networking and communication provisions.
Interior design plays a part to incorporate ergonomic furniture and carpentry storage solutions to these homes.
Hence, there is now a trend to see houses as much as for a show piece for entertainment as well as for comfortable study and work.
In fact, with the rising electrical costs incurred from working home, there has been a recent trend of requesting Architects to look into passive and sustainable design practices.
Apartments and Other Small Spaces
Those living in apartments do not have any extra rooms available to convert them into home offices, and thus, architects get creative with available space. Architects and interior designers now design what are called ‘cloffice,’ a closet that can be turned into an office. Creating such a space requires sacrificing some storage space, removing a door, and cramming in a desk and a few shelves to create a small but manageable office space. While ‘cloffice’ was made out of desperation, architects are taking these makeshift rooms and turning them into aspirational and beautiful spaces in the house.
Co-working / Co-living Spaces
Of course, there are people who live in homes that are not suitable for working. The reasons could range a lack of space or that the home is simply not conducive for work. People that need the peace and quiet now have to search for other options when it comes to a working space.
Co-working spaces provide the ideal alternative. These spaces have offices, shared tables and even lounges where people can use for work. There is therefore no need to purchase furniture at home. Wi-fi for connectivity and sound-proof telephone booths are some of the benefits that these spaces offer. Co-living places have also sprung up around Singapore. These spaces offer living quarters with common areas for working. Likewise, they also offer wi-fi connectivity but may not have as much office-related conveniences compared to the co-working office.
The Future of Home Office
Irrespective of whether your home office is a separate room in a single-family home or is located in a closet or the lobby of your apartment building. The demand for home offices is only going to rise. More and more millennials may not even consider jobs that do not have an option of remote work or even flexible schedules. Architects and interior designers in Singapore are now called to respond by designing home offices in all types of spaces, including hybrid spaces of co-living and co-working spaces
Sustainable design has also come to the forefront as home-owners incur more costs as they work from home. This has seen renewed interest for the use of solar panels to generate electrical power for technology and appliances. Green spaces at home such as balconies, open terraces and roof gardens are valuable additions to the home environment since these spaces allow a respite from working at home. Healthy-living and well-being means multi-function spaces such as a gym, or space for meditation and relaxation will also be desirable.
Singapore architects will have a critical role to play in contributing to the built environment as the trend gains momentum. It will be interesting to see how the trend takes shape in the coming months.