What the rise in home offices means for KBB installers

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By Elizabth Briggs, Category Manager Sliding, Room & Building, Hafele UK

It probably won’t come as much surprise that almost half the working population did some work at home in 2020 according to the Office for National Statistics and looking ahead, would-be office workers expect to spend 54% of their working week doing the same in 2021.

To understand what this means for our industry, late last year, we conducted a survey of 2,000 people who’ve worked from home during the past 12 months to understand their wants and needs. Here’s what they told us and how installers can use this information to grow their business and support their customers.

The need for dedicated workspaces

A huge 40% of home workers are planning to create a dedicated workspace in their property within the next 12 months. This planned investment is a massive opportunity for kitchen, bedroom and bathroom installers, as spare rooms, kitchens and dining spaces are the temporary home of many workers.

At the moment, many workers are making do. We found that 31% regularly work at their dining table and one in ten use kitchen worktops. Over two-fifths (43%) of respondents also said they often work from a bedroom, whether that’s their own, someone else’s or a spare bedroom, and 8% have cut their commute to the bare minimum by working from their dressing table.

Although this make-shift way of working and living has been okay for the time being, over half (55%) said they hated working in a space used for other purposes and 42% are annoyed that they can’t shut away their workspace at the end of the day.

Because of this, one in five respondents is planning to reconfigure an existing room to make a dedicated home office set up. A further 18% are considering converting an existing room into a dedicated office, while 19% are hoping to build a garden room or convert their garage.

The big opportunity for installers

Rather than taking the DIY approach to their new home office, around half of people said they would speak to a joiner or builder during the early planning process for advice.

While home office design might not be the type of job many KBB installers are used to, it’s likely a request you’ll see more of as 2021 progresses.

Fortunately, there are tonnes of products out there that fitters can recommend to customers to create the perfect workspace.

What customers want and how you can help

We asked people what they’d want in the perfect home office:

• Good lighting that I can adapt depending on conditions: 88.60%
• A quiet space away from distractions: 88.50%
• Charging points for my phone: 83.90%
• Being able to close off or put away the workspace at the end of the day: 83.40%
• Lots of power sockets: 83.35%
• A large workspace for my computer: 80.70%
• A flexible workspace that I can use for other functions in my home: 79.15%
• A compact workspace that doesn’t take up too much room: 78.05%
• Storage for paperwork / files: 77.35%
• Ways to hide cables and wires: 76.90%
• A workspace that complements the style of my home: 76.05%
• Adjustable table height: 72.50%

Based on these responses, it’s easy to see some great ways that kbb installers can create a really practical and comfortable home office for customers.
Sliding door or pocket door systems for example, would create a way for homeowners to partition off an open plan kitchen or dining area, making an office space that’s there when they need it but can be hidden away at 5.30 pm. If needing an easier retrofit partition option, installers could recommend top hung systems to create a sliding interior door that divides a room and hides away a working space when not in use.

How to grow your business with home office design

As these responses show, for kitchen and bedroom fitters who want to expand their offer in 2021, there are extra services they can offer too.

Good lighting, for example, was chosen by many as their top requirement, with 89% of home workers rating it as a crucial design factor.

While lighting has traditionally been an area that some installers might steer away from, thanks to innovation in this area, it’s becoming easier to provide the full package.

Loox by Häfele for example, has been developed specifically for the furniture industry. A simple, modular plug and play system, fitters can easily incorporate it into office furniture – as well as kitchen cabinetry – to create a practical, well-lit working space for customers. The system also features modular USB charging stations and audio systems that can be integrated into designs with ease creating a true 3D experience.

For those who want extra support on lighting, Häfele has also launched a free-of-charge Lighting Design Service whereby you simply submit requirements and one of our expert team will return a list of products needed to transform the space.

Although home office design might be a new area for many kitchen, bathroom and bedroom installers, it’s certainly one that’s going to grow enormously. With around 15m people likely to work from home in 2021, it’s a lucrative market for installers to get into and get ahead.

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