Context

In this class we investigated the culture of the ‘home‐office’. i.e when people work partly or entirely out of the place they live. In our context the ‘home‐office’ does not refer to any official government body but rather a lifestyle based around fusing professional and private lives and spaces.

The ‘home‐office’ culture has been made popular by the emergence of new information and communication technologies. Work culture in large companies is also evolving towards greater flexibility and result driven approaches than supervision and strict hierarchies. The freelance approach also has a big role in the emergence of the home-office culture. Often start-up companies and new ventures also start out from working at home (the ever-famous garage venture).

People may choose to work out of their home due to numerous reasons – saving cost on dedicated office space, a life stage situation e.g. having a child, tending to a sick one, a logistic situation e.g. saving time on traffic and commute, or simply to avoid the often chaotic office space.

Also, there are a range of professions like software programming, counseling, translation, cooking lessons, beauty therapy, some medical professionals, child care, writing, gardening, wedding planning, dress making, and other service professionals, who traditionally have worked from or around home.

There are a range of people who lead a dual work life. They work in regular office spaces and then part of their time is spent working from home. Their needs are also unique as they need to factor in dual presence, cope with corporate processes remotely, schedule events/meetings and handle technology in a different way.

Working from home has its own mixed bag of issues and opportunities. People often have to use the same tools and process of everyday living for professional use and the other way around too. Often its peppered with distractions and mixed situations. In such scenarios, products are often designed solely for office or home use. Creating an elegant transition between personal and professional needs is an emerging need in many homes.

Products need to be designed better for mixed realities, permeability and quick transition between situations. The key question is how do you create ’membranes’ rather than strict boundaries between personal and professional activities using the same tools. Often the functionality could be the same but represented in a different interface.

A typical example could be a wireless Internet connection that needs to be shared between ‘work’
use and ‘home’ use. How to monitor usage, distributing costs for accounting at the same time needs a
simple and elegant process to modify settings.