The office is becoming a place where residential and commercial design collide, but somehow it works perfectly. What is ‘Resimercial’ and what challenges and opportunities does it present for businesses.
Resimercial is a relatively new workspace design term, coined to describe anything from furniture, layouts to architecture which blends residential interiors with commercial design. It’s a term which encompasses social spaces, community-focused design, flexible offices and the provision of choice over where staff work, socialise, eat and relax.
Productivity, of course, is the driver, through the aims of energising and inspiring staff, and encouraging connection, collaboration and creativity.
Resimercial is a reflection of the blurred lines between homeworking and flexible working and how the office has become more agile – where people are working from a variety of locations, from hot-desks to sofas, sit-stand desks, and collaborative ‘huts’ and ‘caves,’ to longer canteen tables that double up as multiple hot desk spots around the office. This very traditional notion of ‘here’s your desk, here’s a task chair, this is where you sit every day’ has completely gone.
At the heart of this trend lies the disruptive start-up culture, a record-breaking rise in homeworkers and growth of the UK freelance economy.
Homeworkers hit record levels
In the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of homeworkers has hit record levels. In the first quarter of 2014, there were 4.2m homeworkers (14% of those in work), a number, we believe, has increased further since this research. ONS adds: “this was the highest rate of home working since comparable records began in 1998.” The majority of these homeworkers (2.7m) used their home as a base but also worked in different places, with the remainder (1.5m) working exclusively from offices or studios on their home grounds. The trend for homeworking is mirrored in the US. According to CNN Money, the number of Americans working from home jumped by 41% in the decade to 2012.
In the UK, figures from the ONS show that self-employment rose by 21% from 2008 to 2015, and that it’s an extension of a trend which started in 2000. This trend, says the ONS, is “among the defining characteristics of the UK’s economic recovery.” According to the Association of Independent Professionals and Self Employed (IPSE), in a report from February 2017, the number of freelancers in the UK grew by almost half (43%) between 2008 and 2016, with two million UK freelancers contributing £119bn to the national economy.
The reason for the increase in freelancers is partly down to new generations of workers with new habits and ideas; who are accustomed to working from everywhere but in a fixed office.
Workplace author and speaker, Dan Schawbel, writes in Forbes that millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025, and they have vastly differing working habits to previous generations like Baby Boomers and Generation X. “There is no doubt that millennials will redefine ‘face-time’ as more work from home each year and fewer want to pick up the phone or go into an office,” he says.
To combat this shift and bring people back into the office, it makes sense for employers to create a warm and welcoming environment where workers feel comfortable; a place they want to come to work in, rather than a place they have to be. Where else do we feel more comfortable than at home?
Resimercial also emulates the balance between work and home. By mimicking the atmosphere of the home environment and the cafe culture, employers show they understand their staff have a life outside of the office, and they’re prepared to compromise for them. That’s a powerful plus-point for an employer.
The Rise of Resimercial
Evidence of the resimercial trend spread throughout last year’s (2017) annual NeoCon furniture trade show in Chicago, according to Michigan’s online news magazine, MiBiz. “The show floor was full of products in warm pastel colours, as well as vibrant upholstery and carpeting,” it says. “It also featured lounge furniture and conference tables that looked more fitting for a dining room than a corporate boardroom.”
The Resimercial term fits perfectly with the Frovi product range. It helps to explain the latest designs, which have a more luxurious residential feel but they are specifically designed for commercial office environments. It’s a term to try to explain how everything fits together creating a practical social space. The term sums it all up!
When customers think about designing their office space, it’s less about traditional desking and more about collaboration spaces and agile locations. The more workspace design has moved in that direction in recent years the more the resimercial term has grown. Every design now considers, creating agile, collaborative, flexible working spaces.
A Fine Line
Resimercial design is a direct response to the increased flexibility afforded by digital technology and the move towards more mobile workforces. But the resulting proliferation of varied workstations presents challenges for businesses, home furniture is designed for lounging, not working. If it feels too much like home, could it have a negative effect on people’s attitude and productivity? Need to get the balance just right.
This is where workspace designers are becoming more effective business partners than ever. Long gone are the days when you’d just buy some furniture and have it installed in your office. An office refit is less transactional these days. It has to be. There needs to be consultation with everyone involved (so they’re productive and happy), some deep brand thinking (so the design reflects who and what image they want to project) and as much usage data as you can gather, so it’s an informed, cost-effective investment.
It’s a fine line to getting the modern office design right, there’s definitely a balance needed. Being mindful of all the things your staff require. Zones can be used for every type of work and working style, which might include, someone working at a task for a long period (so you need proper task chairs, proper desks, sit-stand desks) versus hot desking short stops. It’s having the versatility in the space that gives everyone those options. These considerations are taken into account when designing workspaces, it’s all about the people, how they use the space, creating the right environment whilst meeting the needs of the business, not just about the space.
Make this office, home
One company which has taken this home-influenced design to the extreme, and for obvious reasons, is Zoopla Property Group (ZPG), which owns the digital platforms, Zoopla, uSwitch and Prime Location. Its London Bridge offices were designed “to incorporate all the characteristics of a home over three floors of ‘living space,’” it says, with living, dining room, wine cellar, conservatory, library, terrace and even a tree house. According to employee reviews on jobs and recruitment website, Glassdoor, ZPG’s 45,000-sqft London Bridge offices are “out of this world” and include games rooms, gym, showers, free breakfast and lots of other amenities and perks.
Okay, this home-inspired design reflects Zoopla’s brand and service so it makes sense from a branding point of view. But is it also a deliberate effort to make staff feel like they’re working from home.