Susan Trotta

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day sign with flowers

This Sunday, mom's everywhere will be waking up early to a chorus of “Happy Mother’s Day,” and a homemade breakfast feast, complete with homemade cards, inexpensive flowers, and syrupy hands. Perhaps, followed by making Mother’s Day a family fun outing by going somewhere or taking a walk.

Whatever you decide to do, it’s nice to spend the day together. Well, over the past year or so there have been plenty of days together with family. Why not, challenge yourself and mothers everywhere to taking a little "me" time and treat yourself.  Below are some ideas to taking care of you!

lady reading book on couch  Jewelry  Hand Soaps and dish for spa therapy

1. Take Time for Yourself

If you’re craving alone time, ask your partner to take the kids for a nice long walk, and leave you at home. Enjoy the silence. Take a nap. Read. Take a bath. Rock out to Bon Jovi. Do whatever makes you happy. If you’re dreaming of a family outing, set up a backyard game, make an outdoor movie screen, have a lip-sync dance battle, or go for a drive through a local nature preserve.

2. Ask Only for What You Really Want

Make an “Acts of Service” wish list that your significant other and the kids can do instead of gifts. Sure, it’s basically a list of our least favorite chores, but hey, not having to fold the laundry for a whole weekend is like gold to any mama!

3. Buy Yourself Something

Is there a local store you’d like to support? Buy yourself a gift card or shop their online store. Does your athleisure wear collection need some updating? Now is the time! Have your eye on some jewelry? Buy it! Just go for it.

4. Eat Well

If you’re lucky enough to have family members who cook or grill well, take advantage of that. Put in your menu request early and enjoy your favorite grub. If you are the cook, take the day off and support local restaurants. Be sure to pick up your favorite treats and beverages on your next grocery run so you can enjoy the good snacks after the kids are in bed.

5. Create an At-Home Spa

It may not be the same as going to a real spa, but you can pamper yourself with a facial mask and some DIY bath bombs. Throw in a foot soak and a fresh coat of nail polish and you’ll feel like a new woman. If your little helpers are excited about spa day too, make it a mommy-and-me activity with facials for everyone.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy your day! Happy Mother's Day!

 

Better Homes and Gardens; Source: By Megan Boettcher

Soaring Lumber Prices Add $36K to Average New-Home Price

Buyers who purchase newly constructed homes are paying more not only because of intense competition in the market but also surging lumber prices. Record-breaking growth for the cost of lumber is pressing on builders’ budgets and prompting them to pass along price increases to buyers.

 

lumber yard

© juniart - AdobeStock

The increase in lumber prices over the past year has added $35,872 to the price of an average new single-family home and $12,966 to the price of an average new multifamily home. The latter translates to an extra $119 per month in rent for apartment dwellers, according to new housing data from the National Association of Home Builders.

Some builders report slowing production due to the rising building costs. Still, single-family housing starts jumped 41% in March compared to a year earlier, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. More than a quarter of single-family homes that were on the market in the first quarter of this year were new construction—the highest share on record, according to Redfin research.

But lumber prices—up a whopping 340% compared to a year ago, according to Random Lengths, a wood products industry tracking firm—threaten that market share. For a new home, lumber is often used for framing as well as for cabinets, doors, windows, flooring, and decks.

Builders are facing rising costs for other building materials, too. For example, year-over-year prices are up nearly 7% for drywall, 27% for copper—the price of which set a record high this month—and 11% for land prices. Prices for single lots especially have jumped this year due to high buyer demand and low supply.

“There’s a literal land grab going on as builders are scooping up lots to better match housing supply with demand,” Ali Wolf, chief economist at Zonda, told CNBC. “The lot supply shortage is real, and it is causing prices to rise and builders to move further into the suburbs.”

 

Realtor Magazine, Source: 

Soaring Lumber Prices Add $36,000 to the Cost of a New Home, and a Fierce Land Grab Is Only Making It Worse,” CNBC (April 30, 2021) and “Higher Lumber Costs Add More Than $35K to New Home Prices, $119 to Monthly Rent,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (April 28, 2021)

How to Remove Deeply Rooted Shrubs and Trees

Want to Redesign Your Garden? Here's How to Remove Deeply-Rooted Shrubs, Plants, and Small Trees. The good news is that you can tackle this job on your own. Here's what you need to know.

bushes and flower garden

CREDIT: SVPRODUCTION / GETTY IMAGES

By Kelly Manning

Is your landscape looking a little tired and weather-worn? Or maybe you're simply ready for a new look. It's easy to construe lofty goals until you take a closer look at your garden beds, only to discover the deep root systems of the plants, shrubs, and small trees you'd need to remove to change your outdoor space's style. Not only can this task feel overwhelming, but not everyone has the skillset or tools to tackle such a big job. Below, Blythe Yost, a landscape architect and the CEO of Tilly, a startup aiming to bring landscape design to more homeowners, shares her recommendations for removing longstanding varieties to pave the way for new growth.

Make a clear plan—and stick to it. 

"Landscape design is very labor intensive. Don't bite off more than you can chew," cautions Yost, who recommends homeowners map out a plan that outlines their goals. "Draw something out, even if it's on the back of an envelope, or put together a shopping list with the tools you need." Adds Yost, "Know where you're starting and where you're going so that you get somewhere in the end."

Take a strategic approach to removal. 

To remove shrubs, begin with a pair of loppers, to cut away branches and any large roots visible to the eye. As you get down to the soil, use a pick mattock to help you "hack out" the web beneath the surface. Continue to cut the root system as it becomes more accessible; be careful not to simply pull and tug, which can strain your back. For unrelenting roots, Yost recommends utilizing a Come-Along, a tool that allows you to use the support of a tree during the extraction process. Similarly, when removing the roots of small trees, remove branches with loppers—but be sure to leave enough "to give yourself leverage to twist, hack, and pull the roots," notes Yost. As for unearthing simple plants? Use a sharp shovel, such as a spade to dig up the roots, but remember "they are not as deep as the plant is tall." Uprooted trees, shrubs, and plants should be disposed of in the same manner as your regular yard waste.

Use root killer sparingly. 

If you choose to apply root killer, Yost recommends using it "judiciously;" wear protective gear, do not over-spray the area, and be mindful of runoff, she notes. Furthermore, remember that root killer is systemic and needs time to work. "It needs to be taken up by the leaves and then go down to the roots," explains Yost. "If you chop all the leaves off, you can't use it, because there's no leaf surface." Additionally, Yost has found that root killer is best suited for invasive species and works especially well in warm climates, where plants metabolize faster. Otherwise, it will take about two weeks for the root killer to reach the plant's base. If your goal is to kill the system, organic herbicides wont do the trick, she says, since they are not systemic: "Leaves will shrivel, but roots won't die."

Know when to call in a professional. 

"It depends on how much of a workout you want and how much time you have," says Yost of knowing if and when to hire an expert. "Most things can be achieved on your own, but when a tree is larger than an inch and a half in diameter, it will be very difficult to remove." Getting rid of large, overgrown shrubs, which can be especially taxing to remove, often requires a professional, as well. Assessing "size and quantity are two good ways of approaching it," says Yost.

 

Four Ways to Celebrate Arbor Day This Year!

National Arbor Day is April 30. Try these tree-hugging suggestions from reforestation activists for getting (and giving) back to nature.

woman walking with child in woods

CREDIT: CAVAN IMAGES / GETTY IMAGES

By Erica Sloan

With spring finally here, sunshine, fresh blooms, and outdoor activities are all on the horizon once again—a strong reminder of the planet's sheer beauty and the need to safeguard it for future generations. Earth Day, which is observed annually on April 22, may be the most popular holiday dedicated to just that, but there's another eco-conscious day worth celebrating, too: Arbor Day. Commemorating trees and their many contributions to Earth's ecosystems, the holiday falls on the last Friday in April, and although the pandemic has put the kibosh on many in-person events, there are a number of COVID-safe ways you can show your support for trees and all they do for us, whether outside in a distanced group or entirely virtually. We spoke to conservationists and activists at the Arbor Day Foundation and reforestation nonprofit One Tree Planted to put together this list of ideas.

Take a Hike 

When you visit a national park or national forest, your admissions fee doubles as a donation: A portion of it will bolster crucial ongoing conservation efforts at that park. Looking for somewhere to start? Redwoods, sequoias, and Joshua trees are so iconic, they have national parks on the West Coast named after them, all of which could particularly use the support in the aftermath of last year's devastating wildfires. A few other parks where trees are the standout stars include Congaree National Park, in South Carolina, which boasts a breathtaking floodplain forest, as well as Olympic and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks, in Washington and Tennessee respectively, which are both technically rainforests. And of course, there are the White Mountains and other surrounding hiking trails nearby!

Gift Some Green 

For every dollar you donate to conservation and re-greening nonprofits like One Tree Planted and the Arbor Day Foundation, they'll root a new tree specimen in an at-risk region—a place that's suffered major tree losses in recent years due to fires, damaging industries, or invasive species. Another option: Shop at businesses that share proceeds with the National Park Foundation or other park programs, like Good & Well Supply Co. (where you'll find a collection of soy-based candles in scents reminiscent of popular national parks) and Pendleton (which sells national park-themed beanies, blankets, and more). Thanks to a new partnership this April between bamboo-based toilet paper company No.2—which sports 100 percent recycled-paper packaging—and One Tree Planted, every carton of the brand's TP sold will root a tree in one of California's fire-torn forests. You can also support eco-friendly efforts further afield via the Arbor Day Foundation's Heritage coffee series, which features small-batch beans cultivated by Honduran farmers dedicated to sustainable practices (and who receive quality pricing for their goods in return). 

Grab a Shovel 

Scout volunteer re-greening initiatives in your neck of the woods, and you can get your hands dirty planting new saplings in areas that could really use them. While many big group activities have been postponed due to COVID-19, small and socially distanced outings are still happening in full force nationwide. To find one near you, start by looking through the list of current opportunities posted by One Tree Planted. At these Earth Month events, you'll spend the day learning about local native species and doing a range of hands-on restoration work, as well as planting trees, of course. For Californians, TreePeople is another ideal place to start: In April, volunteer groups will head out to the Angeles National Forest, the Santa Monica Mountains, and the LA River Greenway to help remove invasive species, and care for native plants and trees. And you can find still other programs happening right in city centers through orgs like Trees New York, for instance, which is working to replenish the urban canopy in the Bronx, helping combat the heat-island effect and cut down overall energy usage.   

Bring It Home 

If you're the proud owner of a green thumb, level up from your regular houseplant or garden duties, and add a tree to your yard. To find a species fit for your zone, soil type, and sun exposure, visit the Arbor Day Foundation's tree wizard. This nifty quiz entails plugging in your zip code and specifications, and lets you filter by height, spread, growth rate, and other attributes (like whether you'd like the tree to bring pollinators or provide privacy) to find your ideal specimen. Once you have your seedling in hand, start it off on a happy note giving it all the love it deserves and keep it thriving for years to come.

The Dirt on Soil: How to Keep the Earth Around Your Home as Healthy as Possible

Happy Earth Day!

Soil is the life force of any landscape. It grounds and nourishes plants, and it fends off pests and disease. Before you plunge seeds or saplings into your soil, you need to consider its health.

The first step? Checking your soil for damage.

earth day birds plants flowers dirt soil

CREDIT: ILLUSTRATION BY SARA BOCCACCINI MEADOWS

By Johanna Silver 

It is the life force of any landscape. It grounds and nourishes plants, and fends off pests and disease. To get and keep yours in top condition, we asked Elaine Ingham, Ph.D., a global expert and founder of the Soil Food Web School, for the scoop.

What Is Soil? 

"Most people confuse it with dirt, but they're different things entirely," says Ingham, a soil microbiologist in Corvallis, Oregon. Dirt is basically made of broken-down rocks, while "soil is very much a living thing" an ecosystem of dirt, bacteria, fungi, nematodes (microscopic roundworms), protozoa, and micro arthropods (like earthworms and spiders). Together, these elements decompose organic matter and release nutrients, a process called nutrient cycling.

What Can Damage It? 

Environmental pollution and chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. When World War II ended in 1945, munitions companies had an excess of TNT, the explosive in many bombs. Scientists noticed that plants thrived where this nitrogen-rich substance was dumped (never mind that they were weeds), and synthetic fertilizer was born. "Nitrogen will grow a plant—but it won't be a healthy one," says Ingham. Synthetic fertilizer also inhibits the wide range of nourishment needed. As a soluble salt, it dehydrates soil and kills the fungi, bacteria, and microarthropods. You may see quick results from its use, but at a long-term cost: degradation of the ecosystem, and proliferation of disease, pests, and weeds. 

How Do I Know If Mine Is Healthy? 

If you use synthetic fertilizer, it isn't. If you don't know (new property, say), look around: Is your garden riddled with pests, weeds, and yellowing, crinkled, or stunted foliage, or is it robust? "When a plant has all the nutrients it requires, it doesn't produce the chemical stress compounds that say, 'Eat me!'" says Ingham. For instance, the cell walls of a rose growing in healthy soil are too thick to be penetrated by the piercing mouth of an aphid hungry for its sap. The good news: You can fix soil with proper composting. To dig deeper into your yard's specific profile, or if you have concerns about toxicity, consider testing a sample (see soilfoodweb.com for a list of consultants).

How Can I Improve It? 

First, avoid synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Then feed it with compost. Ingham suggests raking a one-to-two-inch-thick topdressing into your beds every spring and fall. The living parts of healthy soil rely on decaying organic matter; make your own from materials like vegetable scraps, dried leaves, and grass clippings. (For a detailed how-to, check out our compost guide.) You can buy it, too, but be sure to ask an independent nursery near you for reputable, locally produced sources. Whether homemade or bought, it should only ever smell earthy. 

Also, create a sound structure. Ingham thinks of soil like a house: Bacteria form the bricks, fungi bind them together, protozoa and nematodes make the hallways, and microarthropods add the windows, aerating the earth. The right makeup increases moisture retention (helpful in droughts), keeps soil full of oxygen (crucial to beneficial micro-organisms), and encourages roots to spread easily and deeply. Also, avoid excessive walking, rototilling, and digging, which can compact the structure, as can rainfall pounding on exposed earth. "Mother Nature never leaves soil bare," says Ingham. Spread mulch (like wood chips) over it  this also stimulates fungal growth, deficient in most gardens or plant cover crops such as creeping phlox, creeping thyme, and Dutch white clover. These low-growing perennials act like living mulch, surrounding other plants, even veggies.

 

Should You Laminate Your COVID-19 Vaccine Card?

According to experts, this isn't the best course of action.

COVID-19 Vaccine Card Suggestions

By Jenn Sinrich , Martha Stewart, Health and Wellness

If you have already secured one or both of your COVID-19 vaccinations, you're probably feeling extra grateful for science. You're likely also feeling as if you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after a year filled with fear and countless unknowns. Needless to say, your vaccine card—which documents your coronavirus inoculation—is incredibly important, since it marks this moment, proves your vaccinated status, and may be your ticket to traveling internationally or attending large-scale events, like sports games and concerts, down the line. As such, you might be wondering if you should preserve your card to keep it in mint condition, and many people are even asking whether or not it's a good idea to laminate the card.

While Niket Sonpal, M.D., a New York City internist on faculty at the Touro College of Medicine, agrees that keeping the card safe is important, he feels that laminating it is not necessary at this point in time. "The card itself contains valuable information on your two doses, including date, timing, and vaccine name and information; however, the United States has not yet instituted vaccine passports for travel or attendance to gatherings," he tells us. "Additionally, we do not know which way the research will go. Will there be a need for booster shots? They would be placed on that original card." In short, Dr. Sonpal feels that, given data and the current state of the pandemic, permanently sealing your card is premature.

Sharon Nachman, chief of the division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children's Hospital in Long Island, New York, agrees, suggesting instead that people put their vaccine cards in plastic folders or a sealable vinyl pouch and store them in a safe place at home. "I suspect that we may need to get booster shots in the future and will need to record them on the same document," she affirms. "Over time, we will want to look at any differences between the vaccines, including the timing of when the original was given and when a booster should be given." Having a card that is easily accessible and amendable will ensure that all information is stored in one place, she explains.

In the meantime, Dr. Nachman advises taking a picture of your vaccine card and saving it on your phone, so you have two copies of you what were given and when it was administered. "I like the redundancy and having these copies available to you at any time as a precaution to needing that information at the drop of a hat," she adds. In addition to storing your card in a plastic folder and keeping a digital iteration on your phone, Robert Hess III, a public health expert and the CEO of Hess III Communications, a company that advises health and human service providers, also recommends sending a copy of your card to your primary care physician, so that it is stored in your medical record. "This will also make sure it is fully protected and always accessible," he says. "Additionally, individuals can make a photocopy of their vaccine card—and laminate that one if they so choose."

 

Vaccines, Stimulus Are Fueling Seller Optimism

Americans are more upbeat about the idea of selling, particularly as the vaccine rollout continues and latest round of stimulus checks are distributed. That could come as hopeful news as many markets face severe housing shortages and buyers are increasingly being left with few choices of homes for sale.

Vaccines, stimulus are fueling seller optimism

Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index rose by 5.2 points in March to a reading of 81.7. The components on the index that increased the most last month related to home selling and buying, household income, and home prices.

“The significant increase in the HPSI in March reflects consumer optimism toward the housing market and larger economy as vaccinations continue to roll out, a third round of stimulus checks was distributed, and this spring home buying season began—perhaps with even more intensity this year, since 2020’s spring homebuying season was limited by virus-related lockdowns,” says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist.

The measure over home-selling sentiment moved higher across most consumer segments and reached nearly pre-pandemic levels, Duncan notes. That is “generally indicative of a strong seller’s market,” he notes. “Consumers once again cited high home prices and tight inventory as primary reasons why it’s a good time to sell.”

More Americans also reported it’s a “good time to buy” in the March survey compared to February, likely still being drawn to historically low mortgage rates despite recent upticks. However, that measure on home-buying sentiment still lags behind pre-pandemic levels. The home-buying experience is proving difficult due to rapidly rising home prices and a lack of housing supply, Duncan adds.

Here’s a closer look at indicators from March’s Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index, reflecting responses from nearly 1,000 consumers over the housing market:

  • 61% of consumers said it’s a good time to sell, up from 55% in February.

  • 53% of consumers said it’s a good time to buy a home, up from 48% in February.

  • 50% of Americans surveyed believe home prices will go up over the next 12 months, up from 47% the month prior.

  • 54% of consumers expect mortgage rates to increase over the next year, up from 47% a month earlier.

  • 82% of Americans say they are not concerned about losing their job over the next 12 months, unchanged from February.

  • 25% of respondents said their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago, up from 17% in February.

 

Source: “Home Purchase Sentiment Index,” Fannie Mae (April 7, 2021)

Why Spring Is the Best Time to Deep Clean Your Home

Why it's so popular to refresh your spaces during this season every year.

Spring cleaning woman vacuuming floor

By Nashia Baker 

When you think about springtime, fresh blooms, seasonal fruit, and pastel colors likely come to mind. Another (arguably less fun) seasonal association? Spring cleaning. But why do we deep clean our spaces at this time? According to the experts, it's simple: The warm weather makes a maximum refresh possible. "With the ability to open windows and shake the rugs, spring is the perfect time for decluttering and deep cleaning," says Andy Telatnik, the director of marketing for retail at Bona. If you feel the same way, you're not alone. According to a Bona and Harris Poll survey last year, half of the adults in the United States say that the start of spring is all about cleaning; decluttering and polishing floors will be the top two tasks for homeowners this particular season.

Don't forget about the pros of disinfecting during this time of year, either. "Spring is a season when everyone starts spending a little more time outdoors—and more dirt and germs are invited in," explains Julie Mckinney, PhD, R&D director of equity, claims and compliance, hygiene, and home at Reckitt Benckiser. "Even though spring signals the end of the cold and flu seasons, people should still be vigilant about the germs and bacteria living on surfaces and collecting in the spaces in their homes—especially as the COVID-19 virus continues to circulate." Ahead, our experts share more about the logic behind spring cleaning and how to make the most of this time.

The benefits are both physical and emotional.

With spring comes longer days, which physically shine a light on the grime that has accumulated during winter. You start "noticing all the dust and smudges that have collected over the past year and feel inspired to get it all cleaned out to bring fresh energy," Kadi Dulude, the owner of  Wizard of Homes, a top-rated home cleaner on Yelp, says. And certain parts of your home really do need that refresh. Take your hardwood floors, "Deep cleaning your floors will extend their life," Telatnik shares. "By  removing dust, debris, and other elements of winter, deep cleaning will prevent scratches and damage to the wood finish, which likely means refinishing the floors less often."

Inevitably,  when your space looks good, you feel good, too. A recent Harris Poll survey, in partnership with Bona, found that people feel safer, productive, relieved, happy, and in control after cleaning and disinfecting their homes. Plus, eight out of 10 Americans felt more relaxed and enjoyed spending time in their spaces that much more.

Take a targeted approach.

"When considering what to prioritize in your spring cleaning and disinfecting routine, remember that any frequently touched surface should be considered high priority," Mckinney says. "Think light switches, doorknobs, handles, and sink faucets—all places where germs can linger for hours, or even days, and then travel from person to person." Once you've got your head wrapped around the most important areas to clean, Dulude says to carve out time and listen to your favorite music to make the process a fun one. Another tip? Round up go-to supplies. "Pick scents and materials that make you want to try them out on different surfaces," she explains. "Get a new mop, microfiber cloths, or organizing bins." She always recommends having other cleaners on hand to give your floors, countertops, and other most-touched surfaces the deepest clean possible.

From here, Dulude says to start on the top floor of your home with hard-to-reach items. "Things that are often overlooked during weekly cleans: tops of picture frames, ceiling fans, tops of high dressers and cabinets, and the insides of lighting fixtures," she explains. "But don't forget to clean under things, too. Take everything out from under the bed, give it all a clean, and put things back neatly (after mopping the floor, of course)." Take this approach in every space, like under your big kitchen appliances. If you'd rather enlist help to master this type of cleaning, you can also turn to an app or use a cleaning business tailored for the task.

Maximize your cleaning efforts.

Next, Dulude recommends these essential steps: deep clean your rugs, donate, toss or recycle any things you don't need, wipe down your knick-knacks, wash your throw pillows, blankets, and toys, and remove scuffs from your walls. Make sure to scrub your floors too. After this step, Telatnik says to let them dry, and then apply a coat of polish to refresh your finish. "A coat of polish can even out a floor's look, filling in any small scratches and adding a new protective layer on top of your floor," he said. "If the surface has larger areas of damage (worn patches, scratches, water spots, etc.), consider contacting a certified flooring contractor to determine the best approach."

"Additional steps that people often neglect, but should definitely tackle as part of their comprehensive spring cleaning and disinfecting routine, include vacuuming the mattress to reduce allergens and dust mites, emptying and disinfecting the shelves and drawers around the house, vacuuming the blower compartments of the A/C to prevent mold and mildew from venturing into your home, and cleaning the inside of the washing machine to help prevent bacteria buildup and laundry contamination adds Mckinney.

 

4 Simple Updates to Refresh the Home Office

Homeowners across the country have transformed their kitchens and living rooms into temporary workstations. But have they created an optimal setup for remote work? Kelsey Stuart, CEO of Bloomin’ Blinds, offers the following tips to make a home office more inviting and motivational.

woman on laptop with her cat

Give the walls a fresh coat of paint. Whether you have a designated home office or plan to repurpose a spare bedroom or basement, try a quick and fresh paint job to transform the room. Lighter tones reflect more light, helping to make a home office feel roomier. Try a light, simple color scheme in order to promote high energy and creativity. This will also provide a professional background for video conference calls. Need inspiration? Try these 2021 paint colors of the year from Benjamin-MooreBehrPantone, or Sherwin-Williams.

Good lighting is key. Lighting is critical to productivity and professionalism in the age of Zoom calls. There are two ways to control the lighting in a room: through natural light via windows and artificial light, using lamps and bulbs.

  • If you haven’t already, swap out existing lightbulbs for LED bulbs. Relatively inexpensive, LEDs are energy-efficient and help light up a room better than traditional bulbs. Eliminate shadows by adding lamps where needed.

  • Whether you’re trying to focus for an extended period of time or are about to log into a videoconference call, controlling the amount of natural light in the room impacts your productivity. You might find it helpful to rearrange your office based on natural light sources so that your eyes don’t get fatigued. Also, control the amount of light in the space by adding blinds, which give you the ability to direct the light in your office. You could also use shades with motorized units to make easier adjustments. Blinds also can have sun sensors that will lower shades if the window gets too hot, helping you to stay focused on your work.

Bring in the outdoors. A functional and beautiful add-on to your office space, plants have been shown to boost creativity while also creating a calm environment to work—all while filtering the air you breathe. Here are ideas for what plants to add.

Personalize your space. We’re all spending more time in our home office, so don’t forget to add the personal touches that remind you of why you go to work every day. For instance, photos of loved ones or a fun pattern on a floor rug can help you create a space that you’re happy to spend time in.

 

 

Courtesy Realtor Magazine

Source: By Kelsey Stuart, CEO of Bloomin’ Blinds  

Is the new Workweek 3 Days In, 2 Days Out?

Many workers want to continue to work from home, even when the pandemic is over. A new survey from JLL of 2,000 employees globally found that 72% want to be able to work from home more during the workweek, up considerably from 34% before the pandemic. Sixty-six percent are in favor of a hybrid model that mixes in office, home, and a co-working facility.

office space and cubicles

The idea of a 3-2-2 model is gaining popularity with workers. LinkedIn’s year-end roundup of 2020’s workplace trends called it a one to watch in the new year. The model would allow employees to work three days in the office, two days remotely, and two days off.

While many workers don’t want to return full-time to the office, they are missing the workplace. Fifty-two percent of professionals say they do not feel as productive at home, and 58% miss working at an office, according to a separate JLL survey. The 3-2-2 model could allow workers to balance remote and in-office work.

“The emergence of this new framework for the workweek confirms that people don’t just want to go back to the office—for many, they need to,” writes Kenny Kane, chief operating officer at Firmspace, for Forbes.com. “And commercial real estate agents will see this reflected in their quarterly reports as soon as the pandemic turns around.”

Still, a CBRE analysis cautions that the growth in remote work could cut the overall need for office space by 15% after the pandemic ends. As workplaces consider new leases, they’re demanding more flexible space options, shared meeting spaces, better indoor air quality, connected building apps, and touchless technology, CBRE notes. Also, about 50% of the workers surveyed by JLL consider socialization spaces crucial to their experiences in the office in the future. These spaces could include coffee and tea areas, lounges, terraces that offer more connection with nature, and more.

Peter Miscovich, managing director of strategy and innovation at JLL, told the Commercial Observer that some clients are wanting to decrease their office portfolios, open up satellite spaces in the suburbs, or retool their existing spaces to fit a new hybid workplace model.

Co-working spaces are increasingly being viewed as an alluring option to more workers. The JLL survey finds that 40% of workers would like to be able to work at a co-working space in the future.

Regardless, the office will remain a key role for companies as a collaboration space, Miscovich says. Only 10% of survey respondents said they would want to work from home exclusively. Seventy-four percent said they would be willing to return to the office at least part time; 24% would be willing to return on a full-time basis.

 

Courtesy Realtor Magazine

Source: "72% of Workers Don't Want to Return to Office Full Time. Report Finds," Commercial Observer (March 5, 2021); "Shaping Human Experience," JLL (Feb 22, 2021); and "What the New 3-2-2 Work Week Will Mean for Commercial Real Estate," Forbes.com (March 2, 2021)