The Line Between Commercial and Residential Interiors Is Disappearing

As more people work from home after office hours or as telecommuters, the comforts they are accustomed to in their residences are emerging in the workplace.

As more people work from home after office hours or as telecommuters, the comforts they are accustomed to in their residences are emerging in the workplace.

Among the more noticeable impacts the Digital Revolution has had on daily life is the way in which it has reshaped the landscape of the workplace. Gone are the days of cubicle farms and corner offices, which became the punchline of comic strips and cult films and exposed an underlying, rather dismal truth:

People were never meant to work in boxes. Thankfully, mobile technology has helped break the shackles that have kept employees tethered to their desks for so long and ushered in a new era of openness, flexibility, and comfort in offices that are beginning to look and feel more like home.

To that point, Kevin Kuske, author of a recent Business News Daily article, observed having choice and control are important when it comes to designing effective workplaces where creativity can flourish.

“Different types of work are best done in different settings, and all of that flexibility can’t be delivered by one desk and chair,” he observed. “Is that how you work at home? Serendipity does not only happen sitting next to the same person every day.”

With the lines between home and work becoming almost obsolete, commercial buildings are taking on a resi-mercial aesthetic.

With the lines between home and work becoming almost obsolete, commercial buildings are taking on a resi-mercial aesthetic.


As Kuske alludes in his article, among the defining characteristics of the new workplace is a sense of freedom and comfort reminiscent of residential environments—a fact that makes perfect sense given the number of telecommuters and independent contractors in today’s workforce. In fact, according to Gensler’s 2016 U.S. Workplace Survey, 40 percent of the U.S. workforce is estimated to be independently employed by 2020. As such, the survey revealed many companies are struggling to attract and retain good talent, just as emerging technologies and co-working trends (see “Trend Alert”, July-August 2015 issue, page 68) empower more workers to step out of the corporate structure and become freelance consultants that work from home or other “third places”, such as coffee shops and libraries.

With the lines between home and work becoming almost obsolete now that people can work anywhere a Wi-Fi connection is available, commercial buildings are taking on a distinctly residential, or “resi-mercial”, aesthetic, blending the best of both worlds and opening up opportunities and challenges for facility executives.

Photos: Richard Johnson

About the Author

Robert Nieminen

Robert Nieminen is a freelance writer; the former editor of Interiors & Sources magazine; and retrofit’s editor at large, specializing in interiors. Under his direction, Interiors & Sources was the recipient of several publishing awards, as well as a pioneer of sustainability reporting.

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