What does working from home and home learning look like for you? (A bit like the picture below we imagine!) Is reduced productivity, mood and increased anxiety a problem? This is a conversation we have been having time and again with our friends and family, especially as lockdown fatigue is taking its toll on so many of us. Trust us, we hear you!
Across the country, spare rooms, bedrooms, garages, corners of our living rooms, closets and kitchen tables have been turned into makeshift offices and places for stacks of messy paperwork. It prompted us to start a different conversation here at Cabyn, where family and home is at the heart of everything we do. How can we use our experience in home and furniture design to help provide helpful, attainable and affordable solutions to our fellow #cabyncrew at home?
We wanted to start a conversation with you about the value of design in creating a workspace that can help encourage productivity, reduce anxiety and alleviate mood.
The single, most important, thing to address is what space you have available, considering the nature of your work as well as the needs of the people you live with.
Does your work require you to be on the phone and video conferences for a large part of the day? A spare bedroom, unused dining room or bedroom might be the best solution for you to avoid unwelcome visits from a toddler declaring they’ve ‘done a toilet’ as you attempt to close a deal. (We all remember the video that went viral of Professor Robert Kelly getting interrupted by his child during a BBC interview!)
Alternatively, if, like me, you’re trying to run a small business from home whilst teaching and keeping an eye on your children, you might find that being separated from the potential chaos being created in your physical absence can lead to you running from your workspace every 5minutes to investigate what that crash, bang or indeed the mischievous silence was about! If this is the case your workspace might be better suited to being in your living room or kitchen.
Positioning your workspace near a window or somewhere with lots of natural light has been proven to improve mood and productivity. A lack of it can have an adverse effect on your mood and focus, lower your concentration and make you feel tired.
If you find your workspace lacks natural light, turning on bright lights can help combat lethargy. You might find it worthwhile investing in a couple of nice desk or floor lamps. Not only will they make your workspace look more attractive, but they could also boost your concentration.
Phillips have a great SceneSwitch bulb that can be used to provide bright daylight in the day but can be dimmed to provide a warm, softer and more ambient light in the evening if your workspace is in a living room or bedroom, for example.
Once you have found a space for your home office it’s important to consider how it looks and feels to help encourage productivity. A makeshift, uninspiring and cluttered space can quickly lead to procrastination, and you might suddenly find the urge to do all the laundry rather than sit at your desk for more than 5 minutes.
It’s worth investing in the best desk you can get for your budget and space to accommodate your computer, laptop, note taking and files. Console tables can also be a great solution for smaller spaces, or if you don’t want a big desk to impose on what is also your living space. You can also get creative and make your own desk! We’ve created this desk (below right) with a pair of trestle legs and an old back door!
Above: 1) Garden Trading Ashwicke Desk 2) Cabyn Creative!
One of my top tips is to get a great chair. You may have to spend many hours a day sat at your desk, so make sure you have a comfortable chair that you want to sit in for a few hours at a time, so best to avoid that wonky kitchen stool that nobody uses – there’s a reason it’s not used!
Consider also the colour of your furniture. You might be a creative wanting to design a space that inspires your creativity and decide that bold statement colours does that for you. Alternatively, if you are using a corner of your living room or bedroom you might want to consider a colour scheme that fits in nicely with your current décor. A subtle look ensures your workspace isn’t the main focus point in the room.
Remember it is important that you are able to switch off at the end of the day and not focussed on the work corner of your room and the anxiety inciting ‘To Do’ list!
We’ve all heard the expression ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’. I find this particularly relevant when working from home. There’s an abundance of cheap and stylish stationery and files available on the market that can help hide some the unsightly paperwork and create a more attractive and appealing workspace.
Consider putting up a shelf up above or next to your desk. Not only does it provide you with more storage space, that is readily accessible (and out of reach from inquisitive sticky fingers!), it can be dressed with plants and pictures to help elevate your mood – We will be posting quick tips on how to dress your shelves later in the week!
Noticeboards are a great way to keep focus by visualising your goals, keeping track of your to-do lists and deadlines. Gone are the old ugly rectangle cork boards that adorned every office wall. There are some super stylish boards out there from wired grid frames, reimagined cork boards and colourful magnetic boards.
Above: All Garden Trading
POWER OF PLANTS
Houseplants are an excellent addition to your home office décor. Not only do they look beautiful but they can vastly improve your mood. It is thought that adding plants to an office space can help reduce stress, anxiety and tension by up to 37%, as well as increasing productivity and concentration by 15%. Many common plants such as the yucca plant have air purifying properties, allowing you to also benefit from a cleaner and healthier environment.
It goes without saying that putting up artwork, pictures and accessories will improve the look and feel of your workspace. Making it an inviting space that you want to spend time in.
Candles also make a fantastic addition. Choose the right scent and you create a subtle form of aromatherapy that can help alleviate brain fog. Citrus scents can help with alertness, Cinnamon can aid concentration, and as we reach the end of our super productive day in our new workspace, lighting a candle with Jasmine or Rosemary can help with relaxation.
If you’ve already nailed your workspace at home we would love for you to share your experience and pictures with us and help inspire others #cabyncrew.
Lots of love from
Emma and Emily x