Did you know that since March 2020, about 18.5 million employees (that’s almost 60% of the UK workforce!) have worked from home. Are you one of them? Do you have a designated area in your house for working, or do you like to keep things more relaxed and work from the comfort of your sofa? With so many of us being able to sign in and work remotely using laptops and even our mobile phones, working from home is certainly getting easier.
Do we even need a proper ‘office space’ anymore? Or are you one of those people who’s only productive when you’re sat at your desk, properly dressed (from the waist up anyway!) and in the zone?
Netflix and…conference calls?
According to a survey carried out by uSwitch, during lockdown 45% of people have chosen to work at their dining room table, 40% of people have worked from their sofa and yes, you’ve guessed it…around 20% of people have worked from their bed (or as I like to call it, WFB!)
According to many who took part in the survey, they felt like their productivity hadn’t been affected, but I certainly for one cannot concentrate and get quality work done if I’m sat on the sofa with ‘This Morning’ on in the background. During lockdown, one friend has worked from home for months from her make-up table in her bedroom, however when it comes to the end of the working day, she feels like she cannot relax or switch off because she’s constantly surrounded by her work.
We mentally assign our habits to the locations in which they occur. We create memories and develop certain habits in which we associate with certain places. For example, many of us associate our sofa with relaxing, watching a good film and perhaps snacking on popcorn with our family. Therefore, it can be hard to focus and work productively in a space that we usually associate with resting and eating snacks! It can get confusing when everything you do happens in the same space. Is your sofa the place you binge watch Netflix and eat pizza, or is it the place where you send important emails and do Zoom conferences with your colleagues? Your environment at home can really make a difference to your productivity!
The good news is that new productive working habits can be created in new environments, so it’s a great idea to create a specific area in your house just for work and working only. By moving to a different room, or even just by creating a new “work zone” in the same room (if you don’t have loads of space) you are stepping outside of your normal environment and leaving those old habits behind which may be distracting you.
From your sofa….to your new study
If you would like to carve out a dedicated space to work that helps you stay focused and productive, I’ve found some fantastic ideas to get you started! Whether you’ve got a whole room to turn into an office, or if you’re tight on space and just need to create a “work zone” take a look below for some inspiration!
- The ‘classic spare bedroom’ office
If you’re lucky enough to have a spare room, this is a perfect location for a home office space. You may have reserved this for guests to stay over, but if you are now working from home for the foreseeable future, it may be more useful as a workspace. It’s important to get a good sized desk and a comfortable office chair, as you will be sitting on this for the majority of your day and if you don’t love your chair, you’ll resent having to sit on it for long periods of time! If you still need the space for guests to stay over, a pull out sofa bed or daybed is a good option.
To keep your study tidy, investing in some good storage is key. Nice big bookshelves, magazine type racks or hiding things away (tidily!) in a wardrobe will help to keep your desk free of paper and clutter.
Add in a couple of plants (these guys make you feel happier!) and some personalised photos and you are ready to go!
- The ‘under your stairs’ office
For most of us, the space under the stairs is where we keep the hoover, odd pairs of shoes and other random bits and pieces we have accumulated over the years. However, this precious and often unappreciated space can be transformed into a handy little study area! By utilising the space under your stairs, you can create a quiet and private area to sit at during the day and get some quality work done. Even just by adding a floating desk and an office chair it can make a huge difference! If you normally work in the living room on the sofa, this may be a great alternative as the chances are, you are still using the same room but creating a different “work zone” where you can focus on tasks instead of getting distracted by the TV.
- The ‘very limited space’ office
Like many, if you don’t have a spare bedroom free to convert into an office, there is still a really good solution! Instead of working from your dining room table, which can get messy, crowded and will often mean you will have to clear your work away each evening before you can sit down to eat, you could invest in a ladder desk. It’s compact and practical and if you have a spare bit of wall, you can easily fit this in. It’s basically a desk and shelving unit combined, so even the smallest of spaces can still be used to work. Dress the shelves with some personal bits that make you smile and a cheery pot plant, and you’re all set for a day at the office! You could pop this in your bedroom, dining room or even the hallway to create a really fab working space.
- The ‘outside is the new inside’ office’
If you are feeling extravagant or fancy taking on a slightly larger project, you could always transform your outdoor space. A summer house or a garden shed can actually be the perfect place to set up a home office. Away from any distractions or noise in the house, you can turn your shed into a peaceful little haven to work in. You will feel like you are leaving the house for the day and “commuting” to work (albeit, a few metres!) and therefore creating a new work routine that takes you away from your usual home environment.
You will also be amazed how a lick of wood paint and some nice furnishings can make such a huge difference! If you are able to, you could even run power cables down from the house to ensure you have good lighting, heating and somewhere to charge your laptop. It’s also a great place to hide your best snacks away from the rest of the household!
I have actually completed this transformation myself and I now run a business from my summer house – take a look below for the transformation! This sort of project will take you a bit longer to do, but you won’t want to go back inside the house once you’ve finished!
So if you’re working at home for the foreseeable future and fed up of balancing your computer on your lap or being interrupted by the other members of your household, why not make the most of your space in your home and transform it into a lovely work space. Not only will you feel more productive, but you will be the envy of all your colleagues during your Zoom meetings!