Written by Kirsty Scott
Over the last few months, the working world has been turned on its head.
The 'new normal' is a common phrase and for most of us, this involves giving up our daily commutes and working from home.
Recent figures from the UK’s Office for National Statistics reveal that half of the employed adult population are currently working remotely due to social distancing measures.
For some, this means a seamless shift from their usual workspace to a comfortable home office. For others, working from home is a logistical nightmare. No one has been given a choice in the matter, and for lots of you who wouldn't naturally volunteer to work remotely, it's a tough transition.
Whether it's your worst nightmare or you're over the moon to be working from home - we're here to help you transform your space into the perfect home office setup!
We've come up with the ultimate guide to creating a calm, productive working environment to transform your space into a WFH haven.
Top Tips for a Productive Home Office
1. Set up your space
The key to productivity is setting up an inspiring, comfortable workspace in your home. This can be anything from a spare room ready to be transformed, a corner of your living room, or even your kitchen table.
The first thing we'd like to make clear is this: do not work from your bed. I don't care what the thread count of your new bedding set is. You're setting yourself up for an unproductive and, rather ironically, very uncomfortable day. Your back won't thank you for it and neither will your boss.
Try to clear a designated area and, if you can, use this exclusively as a workspace. You're looking to create a space that is simple enough not to distract you from the task at hand while fulfilling all your basic needs. However, we also want this space to bring you happiness, calm your mind and inspire your work.
- Supportive, ergonomic chair
- Reasonably sized desk
- Lots of natural light
Another thing to bear in mind is decoration. While it may not seem like it directly enhances your work, it does indirectly impact a positive mindset and your performance levels.
Artwork and bright colours are a great addition to your workspace.
Let's face it. Even if you're no Picasso, you don't want to be staring at a blank wall and a computer screen Monday to Friday, 9 till 5. Check out The Thriving Box Co.'s Edinburgh partner Beck Hunter Art for some quirky prints and designs to elevate your space!
House plants are another mindful addition to your workplace with multiple links found between plants and self-care. As well as improving the aesthetics of a room, plants have multiple psychological benefits. These include enhancing your quality of life and increasing your sense of well-being by cleaning the air. It's pretty simple. Plants literally help you breathe. Summer's Jungle deliver beautiful house plants straight to your door, ready to enhance your WFH setup.
2. Create a morning routine
Okay, who's played charades? It's Christmas Day, you're acting out the scene from Titanic (we all know which one). The more you get into it, the more you feel like it's really happening. Spoiler alert: the wind isn't really rushing through your hair and you're not actually about to kiss a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Sorry.
The point is, the more you pretend to do something, the more realistic it feels. Setting your morning off to a good start is crucial for success throughout the day. And creating a morning routine will help you feel as though you're heading to work, despite not actually leaving the house.
You're not really getting ready to catch the tube, bus or bike into town for a full days work, but it's important you pretend you are.
Shower, get dressed, even put your shoes on if that's what it takes.
Anything that's going to help switch your mindset from lazy day on the sofa to productive morning in the office. Setting the same time limits and creating similar habits to those you'd usually adopt when working in the office can ease yourself into remote working.
Again, we're really sorry about the Leo smooch.
3. Connection is key
While it may be difficult to physically meet up with colleagues at the moment, making regular contact with them throughout the day is a good habit to create.
It's likely that you're not seeing as many people as you may be used to, so it's important to fulfill these social needs in other ways. As the Economic and Social Research Council outlines, isolation is a trigger for mental health issues and can be combated by maintaining supportive relationships. This link between social interactions and mental well-being highlights the importance of keeping in touch with people while working remotely.
Make the effort to use Videoconferencing or Whatsapp Video for work-related calls and utilise social channels to chat to your colleagues about other topics. Although it may be easier to pick up the phone to them, seeing another person's face can lift your mood and decrease feelings of loneliness. This will also do great things for your work, maintaining team cohesion and communication!
4. Take ten
It's hard, we know. But we're begging you.
Here's a list of tried and tested activities to give yourself a well-deserved break from what you're doing:
- Make a cuppa
- Whip up a healthy snack
- Do 100 star jumps
- Grab your mat and stretch it out
- Recite the alphabet backwards as loud as you can
- Talk to humans or pets
- Get some fresh air
- Complete a Sudoku
Working in sprints of 25 minutes, known as the Pomodoro Technique, before taking a short break increases focus and productivity. But remember, the breaks are just as important as the working intervals. Use them wisely. Completely distract yourself mentally and physically from the task at hand and you'll find yourself returning to your desk refreshed and ready for your next project.
5. Stay hydrated
There's a reason it's been said 100 times before.
The NHS advises 6-8 glasses of water or fluids per day in order to replace natural water loss.
The U.S Geological Survey report that roughly 65% of our body is made up of water. They outline the key functions of water in the body including lubricating joints, flushing out waste and acting as a vital nutrient to all cells. This explains why humans can survive for up to three weeks without food, but only a matter of days without liquids.
If you happen to be a self-confessed Zac Efron fan, and want more information on water's impact on our body, I'd recommend his new Netflix series Down to Earth. The second episode focuses on water systems and sources in Paris after an H2o lesson with a water sommelier (yes, that's a thing) in LA.
Whether it's fruit tea, a freshly blended green juice or plain old tap water, make sure to keep those fluid levels up. And if you've taken us up on our houseplant suggestion, don't forget to keep them hydrated too!
6. Set your soundtrack
If you'd asked me a few months ago, I would have said I need complete silence to fully concentrate on my work. Music can be distracting and yes, maybe singing along to The Greatest Showman is not the most productive use of my time.
However, since recently completing an online course, my mindset has changed. Throughout each module 'concentration music' was played in the background. It took me a few lessons to get used to, but soon I found it difficult to focus without this calming soundtrack to accompany my daily tasks.
Totaljobs report that music can significantly relieve stress and increase productivity in the workplace. So if you're not fully convinced, pop on your favourite playlist and give it a try.
- Productive Work - Spotify
- Lo-Fi Beats - Spotify
- Starbucks Music Playlist 2020 - Youtube
- Productive Music Playlist - Youtube
- Ambient Study Music - Youtube
7. Make it yours
Whether you take us up on all or none of these tips, it's essential to make your home office your own. Creating a space that you like and enjoy working in will naturally make you happier, healthier and more productive!
So what are you waiting for? You're now fully equipped with our top tips to transform your workspace! It can be super easy to enhance the way your home office looks and feels. Make these simple changes to your WFH routine and see how it impacts your mood and performance.