Vol. 10 No. 9 October 2002 
Right Brain, Left Brain: 
The Home Offices of Design and Information Professionals 
by Mary Colette Wallace Associate AIA, The Wallace Research Group
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Finally, the negative image of the home office has shattered. The past few years of "creative" officing, corporate overhead off-loading, communications technology breakthroughs, as well as long-standing usage by consultants, architects, and other professionals, have brought about the recognition of home offices as positive, productive workplaces and environments, and not just within the U.S. While most of us are not "making millions the easy way with a home computer" as infamous spam e-mails tout, the numbers are growing around the globe. "Eurescom forecasts [home office] workers by 2005 to reach 20.4 percent in Finland, 25.2 percent in the Netherlands, 12.6 percent in Germany, 11.7 percent in the U.K. and ... as many as 30 million workers in the U.S. by the end of 2004."1
[click thumbnails for full-size images]
Mary Ellen Bates' home office
Sherwin Williams photo
Glidden Paints photo
Roger Summit's home office
Richard Hobbs' home office

Peter Drucker states that in the information age, "Knowledge is the resource of the new economy and society."2 In such a knowledge-driven world, many have found the opportunity to return to a more holistic life of work at home, a return barely possible for over 200 years of the production-oriented Industrial Age. The office design needs of workers who can work anywhere more closely resemble those of artists and writers of the past 200 years than corporate office workers of today. Drucker defines knowledge workers as those "who 'own' their knowledge and take it with them wherever they go." Knowledge workers need right-brain and left-brain stimuli in order to generate knowledge from the information they scan, read, absorb, assimilate, and analyze. 

The "built environment" is the physical landmark and support system for all our human activities. Magazine articles that display and discuss home office designs rarely clarify how those designs provide support to this new knowledge worker represented here by the home office worker. Nearly all home office workers use a computer, printer, phone, fax, and other machines. It's not difficult to place the machines within a 6-foot circle of reach by minimal chair rolling so that the usual multi-tasking (printing while computing and on the phone) can take place. Less known are the differences the crucial, peripheral, work-related activities that make each long, lone day at a computer productive and what in the built environment makes those activities possible. To discover what knowledge has been gained by others, I interviewed several information professionals, a full-time corporate telecommuter, and several architects. Among them, three-quarters have been highly successful home office workers for 5 to 15 years and two of them for over 30 years. Following are highlights of their office designs and ways of working at home. 

September 11 reminded many of us of our deep connections with each other, our profound need for a vibrant living environment, and the importance of living fully now. But many of us live in featureless, bland spaces, some stem from responding to advice from realtors who fear any negative effects on the resale value of homes. Perhaps we can tolerate uninspiring environments if we only come home to sleep in them, but for living and working from the home, environments represent a near complete denial of our psychological needs and well-being. 

When lack of attention and engagement happen in classrooms, University of Victoria, British Columbia, psychologist Robert Gifford calls it "environmental numbness."3 When inattention happens in the home office, productivity suffers. Color, regarded by many designers as a modifier of behavior, remains a topic of disagreement between experts. Some believe that it influences behavior, others put a finer line on it. In a report for NASA, Western State University professor and human factors researcher, Jim Wise reported, "We need to use color because of what we want it to do."4

At SherwinWilliams [], paint color specialist Linda Trent relates, "In previous years, the most popular paint colors for home interiors were the neutrals off-white, eggshell, and the beiges." However, she quickly points out, "The trend now is towards more bold usage of interior paint colors."5 [view photo] She credits the influence of the many home decorating magazines and TV shows, such as Trading Spaces, for entertaining viewers with the bold leaps of designers' creative solutions. 

Photos of the Rocky Mountains, taken by information professional, book author, well-known speaker, and avid jogger, Mary Ellen Bates, add essential natural environment views to her urban Washington, D.C., office. [view photo] Located above her garage and designed by architects Barnes, Vanze and Associates[], the office has a nearly continuous counter work surface on two walls, under which she can easily move the chair, the waste basket, shredder, and the printer on a rolling base. The work surface is wonderfully thought-out for many of her activities, such as computing, sorting, compiling, assembling, and writing. It also provides a large area for her two dogs to vigilantly monitor for signs of dog walks. 

A favorite color and one that fits in with the age and design of her home federal blue gives character to the room's carpet and work surface. Adding to the concealed light fixtures in the ceiling, a skylight and window filter natural light and partial views of tall trees and buildings. If she had room, Mary Ellen says she would love to add a cozy chair in a reading corner. When the backyard patio door is open, she can hear a small waterfall in the fishpond. A true nature lover, like Mark Twain in his "Octagon Studio" at Quarry Farm in Elmira, New York, Mary Ellen loves the tumultuous sound of the rain on her tin roof during a thunderstorm, even if she can't hear anyone on the phone during the downpour. It is "a luxurious connection to the natural environment," says Mary Ellen. 

"The key to our future development as a species will depend on how well we understand the relationship between the left side and right side of our associative cortex." 
Marshall McLuhan 
The home office is a place where individualized work processes drive the organization or placement of various technologies fax, scanner, computer, monitor, printer, shredder, copier, land phone, DSL router/modem, answering machine, uninterrupted power supply unit, CD-ROM burner, and other peripherals. It also serves as the physical landmark location from which some of your highest mental, emotional, and spiritual connections are made to others through communication technologies and through your work. A well-designed home office reflects goals, dreams, work, and thought processes both sides of the brain. 

When planning for humans living in space at the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture, researchers focused on the needs of environmental factors "Variety is important to prevent boredom and depression. Means to change and personalize the appearance of interior areas and incorporate color and interest into the surroundings will be helpful."6

Color in a home office can be inspired by natural surroundings such as the sky or a lake or the ocean or a forest such as architect Richard Hobbs, FAIA, and his wife, Lynne, have through separate office windows in their island cabin home tower in Roche Harbor, Washington. [view photo] The tall fir trees frame the views of sky and water bringing an ever-changing color palette to their second- and third-floor workplaces. And, mirroring the evergreen of the firs outside are dark-green-stained walls that join a light-painted corrugated metal curved wall. "The dark-green stained walls were Lynne's suggestion and they are a wonderful continuation of the fir trees outside" relates Richard. The effect of the curved wall with texture and color enlivens the small offices on separate floors. There is a timeless quality to the energy in the mix of indoor with outdoor. 

On the floor below, Lynne's office receives more light. Her thrift-store find, a glass-topped wrought-iron table, functions as a desk and makes the room look larger and more spacious. A long, low wooden bench acts as an additional work surface that Lynne uses for sorting and organizing client seminar materials. On the floor above, sitting in his father's wooden chair at his desk, Richard has everything within reach that he uses on a regular basis. "I envisioned being in the trees, and the isolation of the office contrasts well with working several days each week with clients nationwide," says Richard. The cabin-like office design is made more efficient and inviting by bookshelves over the windows. Richard says he didn't intend the offices to look homey "It just happened." 

Outwardly focused on professional work yet housed within a family setting, the home office presents the need for social boundaries with family members in terms of time management and physical boundaries that control physical access and provide acoustic and visual separation. The home office worker soon learns that social boundaries between family and office life are fluid and must constantly be balanced or the circumstances changed. Some homes have too much noise as a result of children at home, or the design of the home, such as experienced by editor of ONLINE magazine, Marydee Ojala. "In our open-plan home, phone conversations produced too much sound and disturbed other family members so I moved my office into a building downtown where other sole proprietors have offices." 

Interruptions and distractions are the primary boundaries that home office workers need to identify and delineate in the placement of the office. The second bedroom converted into a home office is often a blessing in disguise, since most bedrooms are positioned in the quietest part of a home and have solid doors. Dens and libraries in some homes may not be as ideal as one would think, because of the noise and activity in adjacent areas. Those with children probably need an office away from the centers of activity usually the kitchen and living or family room to avoid interruptions and distractions (visual, aural, and physical). Contrary to popular assumptions, home officing is not an ideal way to stay home and take care of (young) children while working, unless you can schedule your time for working while the children sleep at night. If you plan to work and have children around, you may even need the Brady Bunch approach and hire an "Alice" or a nanny/housekeeper/cook so you can concentrate on your work. (Remember? The father was an architect and worked out of a home office.) 

It's incumbent upon the home office worker to "manage" interruptions by the physical placement of the office in the home or elsewhere. You may need "close-able," securable doors and advanced communication devices. As Herbert Muschamp of TheNew York Times put it, these have become "more than information tools.....they are defensive weapons that secure private space against untimely invasion."7

Teenagers are more adaptable to home office workers. According to author and information professional, Sheri Lanza, "I can close the door when I need to concentrate and my family respects that." Everything used on a regular basis lies within reach a result of careful planning before the installation of her office built-in cabinets. All the multi-tasking technologies are close and organized. Diffuse ceiling and task lighting provide plenty of illumination to the work surfaces, but Sheri wishes the window placement had worked out better in the office. A tackboard surface gets a lot of use with lists of frequently used industry keywords and jargon, lists of passwords to databases, a calendar made by one of her daughters, and humorous cards. Sheri says that her office isn't that different than any corporate office she's worked in, but that she works better within the quiet space. At times, having a good friend to "tether you back to reality when you need it" is crucial to making it work. 

Thomas Homer-Dixon speaks to the social stress brought by ubiquitous communication technologies in his latest book, The Ingenuity Gap: "Many of us feel that new information technologies have in some ways increased the unpredictability of, and decreased our control over, our daily lives ... becoming (a) major contributor to stress.... As our electronic groups expand beyond that threshold of 150 (persons), the meaningfulness of our relationships degrades, our ability to adequately monitor and predict the behavior of group members declines, and stress inexorably increases."8

Society has long accepted the ramifications of the distant office building, the central workplace with its mass commute to disparate parts of cities and towns for work and the commute back to a house for reconnecting with family. The commute, however, has become an ever-increasing physical gulf between work and social or family life, with 2-hour commutes each way not uncommon. Family life has suffered from this disconnect, and, if we are brave enough to admit it, workers have both suffered and gained from the disconnect. As a society, we have largely lost our connection to rhythms of natural life, of solitude, of concentrated focus, and of meaningful relationships not devoted to communication as the only means of connection. Focused more on technological advances and still young as a culture, we Americans have probably begun to focus more on incorporating family into our work lives since September 11, 2001. Europeans have long incorporated work into their family lives. 

Margaret Wylde writes in her latest book that housing preferences for two-thirds of 55+ year-old baby-boomers are a "great-room" which functions as a kitchen-living room, three bedrooms one of which will be a master bedroom, one a guest room, and one a home office; and a two-car garage in 1,000 to 2,000 square-feet of space. 9

Seattle architect Fred Bassetti, FAIA, bought a 500 square-foot houseboat on Portage Bay at Lake Union in the 1970s. The tiny, one-story place underwent several design and construction phases, adding a second floor with bedrooms, a bath, and a utility room. During the second story addition, sculptor friend Rich Beyer carved whimsical animals into cedar planks that line the walls. When the need arose for a home office, Fred converted the second floor utility room into a compact space for himself and included a desk for his wife. The pitched ceiling and strategically placed windows that capture sunlight (on those rare, sunny Seattle days) and provide privacy give a spacious feel to the compact office. 

A small window captures sounds of university rowing team practices on the lake, their rhythmic calls setting the pace. Inside, the classic student drafting table a door, veneered with melamine and set on two deep filing cabinets is Fred's worktable next to a computer workspace. His light-filled space, textured by rough cedar walls, has a simple boat-cabin feel with plenty of room for creative work. However, he notes that every creative person needs "a good comfortable chair, a cat in the lap beside a crackling fire, in order to think." Fred's is downstairs in the living room where sets of patio doors open onto the houseboat deck and the sights and sounds of Lake Union. 

Colorful, character and design-filled housing developments (focused on humans rather than cars) such as Celebration, Seaside, and Watercolor, Florida, are growing in popularity as people search out a deeper connection to what home looks and feels like in a people-focused community. Home buyers are searching out and renovating old "cottages" at an increasing rate. It is shocking to realize the impact of a seemingly harmless strategy upon design, but one of the most insidious designing to allow greater access for the car has resulted in communities that look like they are home to cars not people. Such industrial age design thinking has just begun to change. Tired of ubiquitous trophy houses (who needs a trophy house when everyone's got one?), people are downsizing in order to live in small (1,000-square-foot) homes; and they love them because they are finally living in the entire home. The Not-So-Big House book by author and architect Sarah Sussanka has led the way, proving that living small is in many ways more elegant and rewarding than gross amounts of unused square footage.

"A person's behavior is affected by how he perceives the world as well as his biological makeup but both are overlaid and shaped through learning." 
Robert Sommer 
Organization plays a large part in the home office of Nancy Lemon, but not to excess. As OwensCorning's full-time telecommuting Research Library supervisor, managing several full-time telecommuting librarians for over 5 years, Nancy has implemented several unorthodox solutions. One which devils most of the people I interviewed for this article, including myself from time to time is what to do with piles of printed materials, files, folders, articles to read, editing work, and so on. "I don't worry about filing and always having a neat office; the key is that I know where everything is and am productive. Spending an hour each day to file everything away isn't a productive use of my time and talents." 

Nancy and her staff handle 2,000 to 3,000 research projects each year, along with a Web-based library, for OwensCorning. "We found that telecommuting isn't for everyone; there are behavioral changes involved for employees to make the shift to working from home. You can't just like to work at home you have to be able to produce the work needed and productively handle the stress during the difficult times to be a successful telecommuter." De-stressing at the end of the day with her horse is Nancy's re-connection to the natural environment and key to her perseverance and creative thinking. "What's not easy to program into a workday" says Nancy, "is unstructured time to think." 

Piles of paper are one of our few tactile connections to computer-based knowledge work. If you are a tactile person, piles of paper have probably become part of your mental landmarking and organization of project processes. Perhaps it is part of our human need to have a tactile, as well as abstract, sense of accomplishment. Jeff Reushel, the proposal writer for Haworth's 2001 "Workspheres" exhibit at MOMA, the Modern Museum of Art in New York, theorizes that the arrangement of workspace and artifacts is a representation of a worker's thought processes and that the "cluttered desk = cluttered mind" maxim is none other than a cultural belief that robs workers of effectively using their space10

"Current economics is merely refining the obsolete. Economic theory is still based on the scarcity axiom, which doesn't apply to information. When I sell you a phone, I no longer have it. When I sell information to you, I have more information by the very fact that you have it and I know you have it. That's not even true of money." 
Peter Drucker
Founder of Dialog, Roger Summit a true renaissance man alternates between playing tennis for a physical workout, improvising music on a keyboard, and working on a book. In a second bedroom, he has two large, U-shaped workspaces: one for multi-tasking on an old Macintosh with his left hand while simultaneously using his PC laptop with his right hand. To the rear of this workspace is another U-shaped workspace for his music keyboard and equipment. [view photo] A creative thinker, Roger says that he gets distracted by staying in the same place so he takes music breaks. 

"Whenever I begin a new project, I clear off a nearby bookcase shelf and place all associated print and media materials books, videos, papers, and articles there," says Roger. This way he organizes his thinking, gets a mental map, and has a physical location devoted to that one project. Roger sorts tax-related documents on top of the pool table in another room. "For me, a different environment makes it easier to focus on the only thing I procrastinate on taxes." 

Information Age work productivity is not quantifiable; it is identifiable only by quality. Finn Bowring, in discussing "Post-Fordism," says "There is a strong case to be made that the remuneration of labour time is an illogical means of distributing society's wealth."11 Lacking the tangible, we need a more holistic right-brain and left-brain design stimulus approach to knowledge work. We are on the threshold of learning how knowledge work differs from the work of the Industrial Age. Instinctively we are moving towards more personalized surroundings as we realize their stimulus, warmth, and perceptual value. 

Ocean breezes inspire busy editor and information professional Reva Basch. In a home office in SeaRanch, California, that for most people would be a resort, she is highly effective. The colors of the sea, which she finds "centering and invigorating," accent the office her chair and artwork. A huge oak desk given to her by the late information professional pioneer, Sue Rugge, provides all the horizontal surface she needs to work. Reva came early to telecommuting while still with a company in the 1980s that was a "huge cube farm." When it got so noisy that she couldn't think, she'd come home and work where she could control her own environment; then a good jog and shower would help refresh her mind and get rid of stress. 

The design and organization of her office has changed since she became a sole proprietor. No longer needing access to reference books, Reva moved the bookcase into the hallway outside her office and uses the extra room for a small quilting projects table. She finds quilting an essential contemplative tactile break from the mostly virtual knowledge work she's engaged in on the computer all day. "I find that when I can't seem to solve a problem by thinking about it, quilting for a while gives me a needed contemplative break and allows the solution to surface," says Reva. 

"Every advance in the history of communications has brought us in closer touch with people far away from us, but at the expense of insulating us from those nearest to us." 
Daniel Boorstin
We and our pre-industrial age forebears hold several characteristics in common such as the desire to control our own lives, efforts, and activities, to reduce stress and increase job satisfaction, and to ultimately reinforce who we are as physical, psychological, and spiritual beings. Institutionalized social concepts of work reinforce industrial age workspace and time boundaries of the "9 to 5" at the office. Bargaining with employers or clients, we organize activities in terms of time-hours and place which then impacts our personal relationships. For instance, West Coast consultants with East Coast clients will soon find themselves getting up 3 hours early to phone-conference. 

Sometimes societies and cultures share in the unspoken contract and sometimes not. Home officing is not only a growing trend for the housing industry, architects, and designers, but is also a social contract made legitimate by economic changes. Shifting workers to telework from their own homes can be a boon for any company off-loading real-estate and overhead costs, such as utilities, insurance, furniture, and security. AT&T estimated in 2002 that it gains an extra hour of productive work-time from each worker for each day spent in the home office, which benefits its bottom line by $65 million each year12

"No other technique for the conduct of life attaches the individual so firmly to reality as laying emphasis on work; for his work at least gives him a secure place in a portion of reality, in the human community." 
Sigmund Freud
Borrowed views can provide not only eye-relief from reading a monitor screen at close range, but also can be very important to overall eye health. Periodically, computer users need to focus on something far away such as a neighboring volcano. Okay, it's Mount Rainier and a "dormant," snow-capped, 14,410-foot peak, which you can see when not obscured by near ever-present rain. Architect and past professor at the University of Washington, Keith Kolb, FAIA, decided to build his house and top floor design studio in 1963 to take advantage of the awe-inspiring views. Three walls of windows provide stunning mountain views: the Cascade Mountains to the east, the Olympic Mountains to the west, and Mount Rainier to the south. 

Keith's unique method of organizing his design work takes advantage of the spacious large room by dedicating one general task type to four different desks and drafting tables. One is for contract documents, one for specifications writing, one for model-building, and the desk for the lone telephone, billing, and customer records. This organization for partly physical work as hand drafting, model-building is the key to his efficiency. There's no need to take the drawings off to build a model, nor to file partially written specifications. There's no wasted effort for the dreaded "neat" look. Over the course of nearly 40 years, Keith has employed a part-time secretary to help with the "office" work and to take messages from clients, but largely, the work continues as it did in the beginning. 

Keith's' cool innovation for his office came to him one day as the Western sun began to heat up the office. He thought of a sail a movable lightweight screen similar to the sails of boats out on nearby Lake Washington or Lake Union and built like a Japanese Shoji screen. After several material hangs, he constructed the final "sail" out of canvas in a wooden frame that has sailed across the floor ever since. It is an elegant solution to the problem of the temporary harsh afternoon sun. 

" most people, a good light means only much light. If we do not see a thing well enough we simply demand more light. And very often we find that it does not help because the quantity of light is not nearly as important as its quality." 
Steen Eiler Rasmussen
Like many architects, Wendell Lovett, FAIA, decided to work from his self-designed home in the 1970s. It's always informative to see potential clients' reactions to his home office, even if they want the opposite. He says, "Experiencing my office provides them with points of reference to discuss what they want and don't want; this office is a working demonstration model." Still designing today most recently home offices for CEOs of local major companies his work is in great demand. 

One of the essential factors for good home office design is to understand the client's work patterns, work flow, and mind-set. If they are neat and don't want to see any paper, then filing cabinets and storage must be well-organized to match the work process. Good lighting is another essential factor. "It's not the quantity of light that is important but the quality of light and whether it's properly illuminating the work." 

While Wendell works creatively among piles of books and materials waiting to be read, scanned, replied to, and filed he has designed high-tech home offices for some of the most organized and talented technology geniuses of today who work entirely paper-free. Understanding such varied and demanding client mind-sets can be challenging, so he refuels his spirit with Baroque music. 

"A deep human need exists for associations with significant places. If we choose to ignore that need, and allow the forces of placelessness to continue unchallenged, then the future can only hold an environment in which places simply do not matter." 
Edward Relph 
Since September 11, we have all become more aware of terrorism, which highlights the fact that some company workers may feel more secure not working on company real-estate. In Seattle on July 11, 2002, the building that Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. offices in and a separate building several blocks away housing the Guy Carpenter & Co., Inc. offices were both the targets of a radical group's smoke bombs. These companies were targeted not because of their policies or work, but because of the controversial work animal testing of products by of one of their many clients13. The army-issue smoke bombs didn't cause any deaths, nor injuries, but coming on the heels of September 11, the psychological, emotional, and physical stresses were very real. Whether or not security concerns develop into a trend that works toward decentralizing the workplace remains to be seen. 

Experts say that computer-supported work and social communications will become increasingly mobile and ubiquitous. The impact upon the design of the built environment will be substantial as wireless technologies continue to release us from the corded tethers to wall outlets in homes, while eliminating the very real security threat of being tapped into by any savvy passersby. The MIT Home of the Future Consortium predicts that in 2015 "sensor arrays and digital displays [will be] embedded into most surfaces" and that homes will continue to try to "anticipate" the needs of its occupants until at some point, "it begins to fit like a glove," adjusting light for specific activities ... becoming "a companion of sorts."14 Author and inventor Ray Kurzweil predicts that in 2029 we'll have three-dimensional input-output visual display implants in our eyes; ubiquitous three-dimensional projected holographic displays, that $1,000 will buy the computing power of 1,000 human minds, and we'll have high bandwidth connection implants installed in our brains' neural pathways15

Working and living at home places greater emphasis on the effectiveness of the interior design. For the past 20 years, many of us have lived in sensory-deprivation chambers starved of color, texture, form (such as unique built-ins), pattern, light, contrast, dimension, and movement. Barbara Richardson of ICI Paints NA, makers of Glidden and Dulux, says, "Color can be used to provide character to rooms as well as help solve lighting problems."16 [view photo] Our human need for design, color, and a stimulating environment needn't be fulfilled only by yearly trips to Disneyland, buying paintings and sculptures of quaint places we'd like to live in, or by climbing the mountains of Glacier National Park. Take a look at the sales figures of the popular painter and sculptor Thomas Kinkade, who says, "Art shows us ways to lead a simpler, richer, more satisfying life."17 Sales for Kinkade's cottage paintings, prints, and sculptures grew from $39.8 million in 1996 to $138 million in 2000. Those numbers point to part of a growing trend, and a trend always points to a need. We need to design our built environments to more accurately reflect our lives as they are and as we want them to be especially if we work where we live. 

Who knows what our home offices will look like in the future? Or, perhaps the question should be, who knows where the office will be? Whatever, wherever, hopefully we will have a better understanding of the necessary inner boundaries that define the place "work" in our minds and we'll use both the right and left sides of our brains to find that answer. 

Edwards, W. Keith and Rebecca E. Grinter. At Home with Ubiquitous Computing: Seven Challenges, Computer Science Laboratory, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, August 15, 2001. 

Hodgson G.M. Economics and Utopia: Why the Learning Economy Is Not the End of History, London: Routledge, 1999. 

Nippert-Eng, Christine. Home and Work: Negotiating Boundaries Through Everyday Life, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. 

Nonaka, Ikujiro and Hirotaka Takeuchi. The Knowledge Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation, New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. 

Rasmussen, Steen Eiler. Experiencing Architecture, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1959. 

Relph, Edward. Place and Placelessness, London: Pion, 1976. 

Salaff, Janet W., with Kathleen Hoski. "Where Home Is the Office: The New Form of Flexible Work," Department of Sociology, Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto, 2001. 

Sommer, Robert. Personal Space: The Behavioral Basis of Design, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1969. 

Sullivan, Cath and Suzan Lewis. "Home-Based Telework, Gender, and the Synchronization of Work and Family: Perspectives of Teleworkers and Their Co-Residents," Gender, Work and Organization, vol. 8, issue 2, 2001, pp.123-145. 

Sullivan, Cath. "Space and the Intersection of Work and Family in Homeworking," Community, Work and Family, vol. 3, issue 2, Aug. 2000, pp. 185-204. 

Sussanka, Sarah. The Not-So-Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live, Newtown, CT: Taunton Press, 1998. 

Whittle, Andrea. "Out of Sight, Out of Mind?: A Virtual Ethnography of Teleworking Careers," Paper presented at 6th International ITF Workshop, "Working in the New Economy: Work-Family Issues" Amsterdam: 2001. 


What is so important about right brain left brain? 

Generally speaking, brain dominance refers to the side or hemisphere you primarily use to process information whether the end product be to learning or working. Information-processing can mean utilizing a mathematical formula, creating a project-tracking flowchart, sketching a building design, or recalling clients' names at a meeting. While some people definitely are right- or left-brain dominant, others incorporate a mix of both. Whatever combination or brain side you use doesn't matter as much as knowing which it is. Then you can use the self-knowledge to an appropriate supportive environment in your home office and put yourself on the way to a more productive, enjoyable workday. 

Some of the characteristics are: 

Left Brain Right Brain 
logical random 
sequential intuitive 
analytic relational 
symbolic tactile 
objective subjective 

For more information about right-brain, left-brain dominance, try these Web sites: 

Left vs. Right Which Side Are You On? 
Dr. Carolyn Hopper, Learning Strategies Coordinator for the Developmental Studies Department at Middle Tennessee State University

Find out what your learning style is with an online test at


1 Sigmund, Akselsen, ed. Telework and Quality of Life: Basic Concepts and Main Results, Eurescom Project Report, May 2001. 

2 Drucker, P.F. Post-Capitalist Society, Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann, 1993. 

3 Gifford, Robert, University of Victoria, BC, Department of Psychology,, accessed online July 22, 2002. 

4 Wise, James A. and Barbara Krysa Wise. The Human Factors of Color in Environmental Design: A Critical Review, NASA Final Technical Report, March 1988. 

5 Trent, Linda, phone interview, Sherwin Williams, July 26, 2002. 

6 SICSA Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture Outreach, Vol. 1, No. 9, Oct-Dec., 1988, p. 4, Special Information Topic Issue Living in Space: Considerations Planning Human Habitats Beyond Earth. 

7 Muschamp, Herbert. "Design Review: Products of a Modern Dreamscape to Keep Noses to the Cybergrindstone," New York Times, February 9, 2001. 

8 Homer-Dixon, Thomas. The Ingenuity Gap, Canada: Knopf, 2000, p. 320. 

9 Wylde, Margaret. "Boomers on the Horizon: Housing Preferences of the 55+ Market,", 2002. 

10 Haworth: Mind'Space: Design Brief,, accessed online on July 15, 2002. 

11 Bowring, Finn. "Post-Fordism and the End of Work," Futures, vol. 34, issue 2, March 2002. 

12 Roitz, Joseph. "2001/2002 Employee Survey Results: Telework, Business Benefit and the Decentralized Enterprise," An AT&T Telework White Paper, July 5, 2002. 

13 Castro, Hector and John Naito. "Smoke Bombs Strike Downtown: Hundreds Evacuated; Insurance Companies May Have Been Targets," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 11, 2002. 

14 MIT Home of the Future Consortium, "Changing Places/House,", accessed online on July 15, 2002. 

15 Kurzweil, Ray. The Age of Spiritual Machines When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence, New York: Penguin Books, 1999. 

16 Richardson, Barbara, ICI Paints, phone interview. 

17 Kinkade, Thomas,, accessed online on July 22, 2002. 

Mary Colette Wallace is the president of The Wallace Research Group [], specializing in architecture, building, 
construction, and design research and information services. She can be reached at
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