It's been over 9 months since Boris sent us all home. We've been through Spring, Summer and Autumn restrictions and now the UK is in a Winter lockdown. Love it or loathe it, working from home is here to stay for a while yet.
So how do you work efficiently and happily from home, whilst also fighting the winter blues? We’ve gathered a few helpful tips and tricks to make working from home more bearable whether for the long or short term.
1. Get outside
When working from home it’s easy to get locked into your work routine and forget about taking breaks, especially lunch breaks. But this can actually reduce your productivity. We looked into scientific research and found that taking a break and getting out of your home for some fresh air, natural light and contact with nature is highly beneficial.
Dr. Becky Spelman, counselling psychologist at The Private Therapy Clinic says “There are significant psychological benefits in being around nature. It's calming for people and helps them to be mindful and be present in the moment."
Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind, says “Our physical health and mental health are linked so try to create a routine that includes some physical exercise. Although you can’t spend time with others, do make the most of any private outdoor space you have – being in nature can also help our wellbeing.”
Natural daylight has been shown to increase the duration and quality of our sleep. It’s also been shown as an effective therapeutic option to improve sleep, mood and general well-being.
What we suggest: remember to fix breaks in your schedule and whatever the weather, wrap up warm and go for a brisk 30 minute walk during your lunch break.
2. Invest in a comfy chair and desk
After working at the kitchen table, on a hard dining chair for months, it’s starting to take its toll on the body - according to the British Safety Council more than half of home workers have new aches and pains, especially in the neck (58%) and back (55%). We can all now appreciate how those ergonomic office chairs saved us from a world of discomfort.
So how can you combine homely design with ergonomic features so that you can stay fit, healthy and comfy sitting down for hours at a time on your laptop? We’ve examined and compared the best options available to turn your home into an office but still make it a feel like a home and without the hassle of buying and assembling.
The final work from home push is likely to last months, not years. So it’s worth checking out Monty. Monty provides furniture rental for homes across the UK with flexible, affordable plans. So once you’re back in the office, they’ll take it back off you! Here’s our top picks:
- Standing Desk. Standing helps with posture, keeps you moving, improves circulation. Standing Desks offer the ability to alter the height of your working area so that you can switch from sitting down to standing up without the fuss of having to move or rearrange your desk area.
- Laptop stand. We all need to sit as well so while sitting to avoid neck strain why not get one of these to help, your neck will thank you!
- Ergonomic Chair. This is an excellent solution to your backache problems, designed for maximum lumbar support. Scientific research found that employees given an ergonomic chair reported less negative symptoms throughout the day and improved productivity by 17.7%.
What we suggest: you can't put a price on your health, so invest in your work set up for the final WFH push and if you don’t want to buy home office furniture, you can always rent it for as long as you need.
3. Keep it tidy
Research has shown that our physical environments significantly influence our cognition, emotions and behaviour. Having a disorganised desk can lead to a decrease in productivity and an increase in workload. 41% of surveyed UK office workers said they believed a tidy workspace makes people more productive and 21% admitted that having a cluttered desk has somehow increased their workload.
Chaotic work spaces can also have an emotional impact too - with 31% saying it increased their stress levels.
What we suggest: declutter your workspace, get rid of or hide anything you don't use often. Keep your work and relaxation spaces separate.
4. Use plants
Did you know that our home environment can produce more pollution than outside? And being locked 24/7 is less than ideal so let in fresh air and bring in the plants. You don’t need to create a jungle but studies have shown that certain types of houseplants are very effective at removing toxic pollutants from the air as well as improving your health and can sharpen your focus.
Research has shown - 'Green' offices with plants make staff happier and more productive than 'lean' designs without greenery and found by enhancing a 'lean' office with plants could increase productivity by 15% whilst being more physically, cognitively, and emotionally involved in work.
What we suggest: invest in some houseplants and dot them round your house, here’s a great shortlist of the best houseplants from Patch plants.
5. Social contact and mental health
We’re social creatures and our work life allows us to mix and socialise with colleagues, but working from home can feel isolating at times.
Recent research found almost half (46%) of UK workers have experienced loneliness during lockdown. Close bonds keep us grounded, increase our happiness, and foster a sense that we are part of a larger community.
Do you have any friends that live locally? Why not have a quick socially distanced walk together in the park.
What we suggest: kill two birds with one stone, go for a morning or lunchtime walk with a friend!
If you need any more information on this, here is a list of mental health resources from the BBC.