Whether due to freelancing or open office plans, more and more American employees are going without a traditional office space. Working from home also is becoming more common–in 2013, Forbes reported that one in five Americans worked from home, a number that was expected to increase sharply in the coming years. But how does one focus on work when surrounded with the temptations of television and food and, often, without a real desk?
Royal College of Art graduate Rami Santala is working on a solution: a foldable office space that can be laid out anywhere. “I heard such funny stories from people who work at home. One guy told me he puts on a tie every day just so he knows it’s time to start working.” Santala says. “Work itself needs regularity, consistency. You need to get into the right mood.”
His prototype, Devide, is all about creating a routine that gets us into work mode. Devide can be a laptop case, laptop stand, privacy screen and work surface, depending on how it’s folded.
“I am hoping for the user to feel some sort of ownership of the space where they set it up,” Santala says. The prototype also contains a small Bluetooth sensor that can be programmed to start up work apps on your computer and shut down programs that are distracting. It also helps count the hours you work, a great short cut for freelancers who charge by the hour.
But Devide doesn’t just signal when it’s time to start work. Santala also hopes it will help people leave their work behind when it’s time to quit, which can be hard when you work and play using the same devices. The physical actions required to fold Devide into the right shape help to create a psychological pattern for beginning and ending work. When you’re done, “you can pack it up and set it aside,” Santala says.
Though this project was just a prototype for RCA’s graduation show, Santala hopes to continue to work on the idea–particularly the Bluetooth beacon–which he hopes to collaborate on with a tech company. Though Santala sees Devide as predominantly consumer facing, he could also see coworking spaces offering it as a benefit to clients.
But if nothing else, Devide provides a timely reminder that–with the freelance trend showing no signs of ceasing–we’re going to need to find ways to separate work from the rest of our lives.