Creating the Perfect Working from Home Space
- Jo Parker-Liddle
As the great lockdown of 2020 has continued; the one thing that has become prevalent is how many people are now working from home.
People have had different lockdown experiences. From key workers and home workers and those that have been furloughed or made redundant. Home workers are the largest group and there is a variety in the experiences of this group during the ‘great homeworking experiment’. Some have struggled with childcare; some have found it isolating and can’t wait to rush back to the office environment and some have really enjoyed the new found freedom of work/life balance.
One thing is for certain, homeworking will be around for some time yet and for some will probably become a permanent thing. There are a number of factors influencing this shift alongside the need to reduce the occupancy levels in workplaces to allow for social distancing between colleagues. People will be less likely to share open plan offices, use public transport or attend crowded events.
Homeworking is not a new thing and has been routine for many for some time and this experience has shown to have a number of benefits to workplaces and employees. There are also the financial and environmental cost factors. If businesses are to recover then savings need to be found and the cost of premises is a significant factor in the outgoings. Some businesses will likely find it more effective to have a hybrid of home offices and smaller satellite offices which will increase space utilisation whilst also improving on their carbon footprint.
So, when you are creating your new frequently used space; it’s important to ensure maximum comfort and productivity. Beforehand you may have looked past any defects in your home, after all, your real life always took place elsewhere, your workplace, the pub, gym or anywhere else you spend most of your time. But now work and social life has moved to our homes there’s many more new considerations. Can your whole household work peaceably in the living room? Is it possible to focus on your work when the kids are running round at full volume?
We may not all be able to move to bigger houses with a home office and plenty of extra space, but there’s plenty of other ways to create a new permanent place to be productive.
Creating a separate space just to work will allow you to be able to switch off and stop the lines between home and work blurring, allowing you that healthy work / life balance, which is essential for overall well-being, reducing stress and the risk of burn-out. Employees who are satisfied with their work / life balance are more likely to be happier at work, resulting in improved performance, productivity and commitment.
Perhaps you are limited on space and don’t have a spare room, but you may be able to create an office in a small corner. It’s important to avoid a space that you strongly associate with relaxation. A small space in a spare bedroom, conservatory, landing or a corner of the kitchen / dining room will work well. Having a dedicated working space means you can have an ergonomic desk at the correct height and adjustable comfortable office chair. If it’s a space you’ll be working at on a daily basis, creating a different feel from the rest of your rooms may help you to focus.
Even if your working space is the dining table it’s still important to keep your working area organised and clean to avoid distractions. Make sure you have everything you need to hand and things are easily accessible to you.
Lighting - Lighting really is crucial to creating a comfortable space. Let’s face it a dark office is depressing. Getting as much natural light as possible is optimal for well-being along with being easier on the eyes, so move your desk as close to the window as is feasible. Fluorescent lighting and dim lighting can cause eye strain and headaches. When looking at your artificial lighting opt for a lighting scheme that will make your working space feel bigger and brighter. Replace a boring overhead light for something interesting and unique and of course your overhead lighting shouldn’t be your only consideration. Make sure you add adjustable task lighting to ensure you get light exactly where you need it.
Décor – We can’t mention décor without mentioning the wellbeing that is achieved with biophilia. The biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Incorporating direct or indirect elements of nature into your surroundings has been demonstrated to reduce stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates, whilst increasing productivity, creativity and wellbeing. Along with improving natural lighting and ventilation, biophilia can be added to your working space with the use of natural materials, textures, patterns and colours. Even just adding some foliage to the area will help with that nature connection.
Choosing the right colour for your office space is vitally important as colour will have an effect on mood as well as productivity. Most people associate bright colours with energy but it may not represent the right energy. Red for instance has been found to increase the speed and intensity of emotions, it makes us feel as if everything is urgent which can lead to anxiety and worry.
The colour blue has been found to stimulate the mind, leading to more productivity and is ideal for helping keep you focused, especially if your work is repetitive. Cool blue hues will also give you that feeling of space if your working area is cramped. Yellow can stimulate emotion making it ideal for creatives and green can give you balance, calmness and reassurance.
If you feel that adding new colours to your walls will clash with your existing décor, then you can achieve the same feel with accents of colour.
Garage / Loft Conversion – It’s often feasible to create that all important dedicated working space by looking at areas of your home that aren’t being utilised to their full potential? These are both inexpensive options that can create not only the extra room needed for working but even extra bedroom or bathroom space in your home.
Garden room – Perhaps you don’t have the space or the quiet you need inside the house but you have a little space in your garden? Garden offices have been popping up more frequently as the need to work from home becomes ever increasing. There are so many options to consider from an inexpensive garden shed to a bespoke pre-fabricated garden room and depending on the size and location can often be build within permitted development rights. We love this Aeropod built from recycled sections of retired aircraft, which can provide a real talking point as well as encouraging recycling and circular design.
If you need help planning, designing or building your home office, whether you’re an employer looking at cutting premises costs or a homeowner looking at creating new space, we’re here at Fisch ready and waiting to share our knowledge and advice to help you fulfill your needs.
Get in touch now for a free initial consultation!