OK, so We're back in lockdown. And for millions, this means working from home again for the near future.
However, research from online retailer, Furniture and Choice, shows that despite the previous two lockdowns, 37% admit they still don’t have a dedicated space to work from at home. What’s more, just a quarter of home workers have invested in comfortable seating or a desk.
The firm's data also reveals where the nation has spent its money to set up for long-term remote working this year and highlights the average price paid to create a home office is £144 per person – with some spending upwards of £300.
Shockingly only 26% of Brits have invested in a comfy work chair. According to the Health and Safety executive, unsuitable seating can cause people to adopt awkward postures which can lead to discomfort, back pain and upper limb disorders. This may prove costly to employers in the form of staff absences, but individuals also bear some of the costs in the form of suffering and lost income.
It should come as no surprise that outside of the essentials, houseplants were among the most purchased items, with 14% hoping to bring the outdoors in, during a time where getting outside has never been harder. It’s not a bad option to invest in for your home office, with houseplants proven to improve concentration, boost mood and create a calmer environment.
While other essential items such as pencil holders and filing cabinets were purchased, comfort proved to be key. 11% bought new cushions and 6% opted to snap up pet beds so their furry friends can seek comfort in their home workspace.
With working from home likely to remain in some form for the long-term, Rebecca Snowdon, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture And Choice, shares her advice on creating a functional, yet stylish home working space:
She explains: “Finding additional space in the home to work from may not be an option for everyone, in which case our workspaces need to integrate seamlessly into the overall style and functionality of the space we’re in. We can see in our research that many people have chosen not to invest in some of the office essentials, instead making use of their existing setups, such as working from their dining table.
“Creating a stylish yet functional work area in your home needn’t break the bank or involve huge amounts of time and planning, but with home working looking set to stay for the near future, it’s well worth giving your home office some TLC.”
Top tips to help people create a home working space that is practical yet on-trend:
Remember the trends
If you do need to utilise your kitchen counter then remember there was a big trend for standing desks last year, as the health benefits of standing rather than sitting for long stretches of time were widely debated.
The good news about a standing desk is that it takes up a lot less space than a regular desk arrangement. All you need is a high console unit or breakfast bar to set up your laptop and you're away.
Pick the best view
Poor lighting can make you feel tired, strain your eyes and give you a headache, all of which can take away focus and motivation. A study also found a direct positive correlation between daylight and productivity, finding that natural light improves alertness.
This means that a well-lit room is crucial for a good home office space, so set up your desk near a window and stay away from harsh, electric lights. The kitchen is often filled with natural light – great for keeping you energised throughout the day.
Bring the outdoors inside
The American Psychological Association found that workers in spaces with plants showed 15% higher productivity than those without.
The best plants to incorporate into your home office space, are:
Peace Lily – they don’t need much light and help remove toxins from the air
Devils Ivy – these can adapt easily to a variety of conditions
Chinese Evergreen – offers visual variety and requires little maintenance
Light a candle or accessorise with a diffuser
Working in your kitchen or dining room, you might be met with smells of your partner’s lunch or last night's takeaway. Many studies have shown that odours impact our mood, creativity and problem-solving skills.
We’d advise sticking with natural scents like lavender and essential oils instead, such as:
Pine – for alertness
Cinnamon – for focus
Lavender – to relax
Peppermint – to lift your mood
Citrus (any) – for wakefulness
Using dining chairs
Your dining table is the perfect place to work but be aware that the average table is around 3cm higher than your desk, and your dining chair 3cm lower. Make up for this deficit by using cushions to support your lumbar and pad the bottom of the chair. You’ll know you’re sitting at the right height by making sure that, with shoulders relaxed, your forearms run parallel to the table.
Rebecca concludes: “With many of us finding ourselves working from home for the foreseeable future, there really is no better time to give your home working space the refresh it might need.
“With wellbeing and mindfulness as prevalent as ever, it’s important to create a space that you can switch off from to stay well at home. Carving out a zen zone near your workspace for quick stretch breaks can provide a calming space for yoga or practising meditation.”