Unless you’re a nurse, a checkout assistant or a delivery driver, chances are you’re going to be working from home for a while.
For those who don’t have a home office set up already, this brave new world of endless conference calls in your living room is going to take some getting used to – and doing an IKEA run to pick up a new desk or chair isn’t really an option.
So how can you create a productive, healthy work environment using the things you already have?
Let there be light
It’s a simple idea, but Helen Westlake, creative director at interior design firm Millier suggests moving the table you work at as close as possible to a window. This, she says, will “keep you alert and your mood lifted.”
Many Londoners don’t have the luxury of a pleasant view, though, so if staring at some bins for eight hours a day is too depressing, injecting a bit of colour into your workspace can have a similarly uplifting effect.
Ensure there is sufficient storage so you can hide away your work life when the evening hitsHelen Westlake, Millier
“Place a piece of art in your visual field and utilise the power of colour psychology,” says Liz Linforth of wellbeing-focused interiors company, Conscious Cribs.
She adds that yellow is a good colour to incorporate into your working space as it “stimulates our intellect, giving us a rational, clear and focused outlook,” which sounds like exactly what we all need in these strange and unprecedented times.
Divide and conquer
Another key to working from home is to divide areas for work and relaxation. “Consider the arrangement of your furniture,” says Westlake. “Ensure there is sufficient storage so you can hide away your work life when the evening hits.”
You can also split up your space using scents, so candles and diffusers are your friends. “Citrus is a stimulant so works well in office environments, whereas jasmine and lavender are more calming,” she adds.
Air it out
Good air quality is really important when you’re stuck indoors for long stretches at a time – and could even help to keep the dreaded virus at bay.
“Good ventilation is always associated with low microbes inside your home,” says Olga Baker Turner, chief executive of newly-launched indoor air quality testing company AirRated. “The best way to avoid viruses is to fit a really good, mechanical ventilation system with a filter.”
If that’s not possible, Westlake says plants are are “vital for clean, filtered air,” and having lots of them around has been proven to reduce stress levels and blood pressure. So next time you make a dash to the supermarket on a doomed mission to score some pasta, thinking about picking up a commiseration houseplant.
They can even help absorb the toxins emitted by office equipment. “Plants like English Ivy are great positioned near computers,” Linforth says. “They assist in purifying the air by absorbing toxins like ammonia, formaldehyde and benzene.”
Sit up straight
Attitude is everything when it comes to working from home, and just because you don’t have a fancy office chair doesn’t mean you can get away with slouching.
“We can easily make any chair more comfortable and ergonomic by sitting on the edge of the seat with a folded jumper or foam wedge underneath,” says Linforth. “This encourages our legs to sit at 120 degrees, achieving what NASA calls neutral body position, the ideal position for sitting for long lengths of time.”
Good luck, and we’ll see you on the other side.