If we’ve learned anything over the past 16 months (and counting!), it’s that nothing stays the same. Our working lives, and indeed where it happens, have changed enormously – suiting some and isolating others. So how do we create a conducive work space that aids us mentally, as well as physically?
It looks like the temporary work space we created on the living room sofa is to become more permanent – at least for the foreseeable. Perching on the edge of a bed to engage in two-hour zoom call marathons was never a great idea, especially for our backs. But who could have envisioned we’d be out of our city centre offices for so long – with potentially, some never to return? All the temporary fixes and work arounds now take on a difference aspect when viewed through the lens of semi-permanence.
So, what to do? Derek Annand of Tabula Rasa Design has some ideas, ‘All the signs indicate that people will be working from home much more. Several large companies have already stated that their workforce will not be required to spend as much time in the office and some have even switched to full-time homeworking. This makes a huge difference to how people are viewing their home office and how they want to furnish it. Knowing they will be using it daily, perhaps for eight hours a day, has encouraged many to invest in a good quality desk – spending that little bit extra on something really special to make their homeworking environment as welcoming and productive as possible.
‘Create a space that feels welcoming, inspiring, and comfortable. Ideally, opt for a desk that can be adapted to suit you as an individual – one that can be raised or lowered according to your height, like the TR Smart Desk for example. To boost your well-being at work, it’s a good idea to introduce some sort of connection with nature, especially if you will be working there for hours at a time. Place your desk near a window to make the most of any natural light, include some plants, and opt for natural materials such a hardwood desk to bring a little of the outside in.’
This connection to nature and natural light can have significant mental health benefits and, infact, improve our physical health too with the addition of air purifying plants. Jordan Trainer of Green Living Glasgow in Partick says, ‘Air purifying plants are important now more than ever as we spend more time indoors. These plants have been proven to increase oxygen levels, absorb carbon dioxide and remove harmful airborne contaminants which build up within our homes.’
A particular favourite is the Calathea Makoyanna plant with its variegated dark and light green leaves. It’s pretty, it has health giving benefits and as Jordan says ‘Plants make people happy!’
West End based interior designer, Emily Fotheringham of Fotheringham Interiors, picks up on this theme.’ Our surroundings are reflected in our mood so feeling comfortable and productive in your office space will achieve a better output. Make careful choices in colour scheme, lighting, furniture, seating and foliage (plants/moss wall) and your space will acquire a great balance between its components, their functionality and appearance.
‘Soft muted colour schemes work best. Colours such as Mallord from Craig and Rose Paints, now on Byres Road, or Half Mushroom by Zoffany are neutral winners. Avoid dark colours as they are far less stimulating and can make you feel less inclined to work. Having an ergonomic chair is so important for comfort. From an aesthetic point of view, match your chair design to the rest of the room’s furniture style to avoid a “commercial office feel”. Foliage suiting your taste should be incorporated into your design scheme to evoke a sense of calm.
‘By dedicating a room in your home to an office, a permanent solution can be achieved. If internal space is limited, consider a garden pod or small outbuilding – there are beautiful sustainable options out there. These offer the luxury of a defined and separate work environment which some clients prefer.’
Life is changing fast, but there are local products and advice out there to help in what, with hindsight, will be seen as a seismic shift in how, when and where we work. And if in doubt, buy a pet plant. Be happy.
Top Homeworking Tips from Emily at Fotheringham Interiors
√ It’s easier to achieve a good work life balance if you can shut the door on the place you work from. So transform a spare room into your new office if you can
√ Installing shutters for your window dressing are a great choice as they can control the amount of light coming into the space at different times of the day
√ If possible, give yourself a view from your desk
√ Access power easily and avoid cable mess with tower sockets built into your desk
√ Make sure to include enough shelving and cupboards for your storage needs. These should be at hand and easy for you to access
√ Solid hardwood or engineered wood is a practical and durable choice, as well as welcoming √ Adding a textured rug under your desk adds softness and layers to the space
√ When you’re working with computers/screens, make sure you allow for the angles of natural light through the day and avoid glare
√ Add strong task lighting where needed and softer lighting throughout shelving and bookcases using led strips and spots.
√ Invest in key pieces with longevity and durable finishes and you will thank yourself every time you ‘go to work’ in your home office!