Michael Winn’s days have “changed quite a bit since most of my team and I started teleworking back in March,” he says. The founder of the eponymous design brand Winn design + Build, which is based in Falls Church, has turned to digital tools to communicate with clients, work on projects and more during the COVID-19 era.
Here, Winn takes us behind the scenes of his work-from-home space, his new routine and more. See highlights from our conversation below.
Walk us through a typical day at home right now and throughout the pandemic.
I used to start my day rushing out the door for an early-morning site meeting. Now, I can be found starting my day with my wife, Mel, having coffee on our loggia where we discuss our plans for the day, with plenty of time to spare before our morning site meetings, which now include all our team members via Zoom. Then, I may spend the rest of my morning in our family room, laptop and phone in-hand with Archie, our affable dog, at my side, participating in design charrettes with my architectural team, conducting virtual consultations with prospective clients or leading a design presentation with an existing client. By noon, I am ready for a quick break for my daily Peloton ride, which has been a welcome change to my daily routine, followed by my go-to lunch: a green smoothie with blueberries, cinnamon almond butter and lots of other healthy ingredients to power me through the second half of my day. After lunch, I typically retreat from the household distractions to our upstairs home office where I can focus on the 1,001 activities it takes to run a small business.
What has the change to at-home work been like for you?
It’s been good in more ways than I would have expected. I’m spending more time with my kids (Jackson, 10, and Mia, 9) getting more exercise, and I feel like I’m as busy and productive as ever. The change did require some adjustments for my design team. Like many businesses, we’re taking full advantage of video conferencing, team messaging and have migrated to virtual servers and a host of other cloud productivity services. I’m really proud of my team’s ability to adjust to the change from the beginning. After a few short weeks initially, we were back to business as usual … or the new usual anyway.
If you could describe the theme or feeling of your home office space in a sentence or two, what would you say?
My home office space feels like … home. It’s a very comfortable and serene space with lots of light and plenty of the comforts of home. Aside from upgrading our network and buying a Herman Miller Aeron chair (an investment that pays dividends for your back) the space was kept mostly as it was; a minimalist workspace, just like I like it! Aside from my chair, the only other upgrade to my workspace was my task lighting. I purchased an Artemide Tolomeo Mini Desk Lamp, which I’ve always liked because of its timeless, modern look.
How does your at-home work space atmosphere influence your work day?
I find myself migrating from one space to the next throughout the day based on the light, weather, mood and activity I’m undertaking. I’ve also found that the change of scenery can provide a little mental reset and energy boost.
Where did the design inspiration for your home office space come from?
The interior design of our home has taken a lot of inspiration from Scandinavian design, which is characterized by minimalism, simplicity and functionality. I’ve continued this into my home office with the use of natural materials, lots of natural light and a clutter-free workspace.
Is there a big significance to any of the products you have on your home desk or in the home office space?
I have a perfectly smooth dark gray stone my son gave me from a vacation we took to Iceland a few years ago. It reminds me of him, the time, the place and our experience together. It’s a nice distraction and a good way to center myself.
Are there other rooms in your house that have served as a haven for mental escape right now?
When the weather is nice, as it was quite a bit this spring, I’ve enjoyed working from one of our outdoor patio spaces. The background noises of a typical office have been replaced by the sounds of nature.
Do you have any quick tips or words of wisdom for those trying to redesign their work-from-home space?
Yes, in a small space especially, which is where home offices can often be found, it’s important to limit the number of materials and colors you’re using. I agree with the saying that a messy room equals a messy mind and so a clutter-free environment with plenty of storage is key for me. If something doesn’t provide function or spark joy, then away it goes.
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