How can agents working from home make their set-up as productive as possible? TTG hears from two interior designers for their best tips.
While the concept of working from home during lockdown is no longer new, many agents may still be struggling to separate work from their personal lives now their home doubles up as an office.
“Many of us live in smaller accommodation and the interchangeable spaces are becoming a way of life. [This is why] it is important to create distinguished spaces at home so the boundaries between life and work don’t become too blurred,” advises Yaara Gooner, lead architect and designer at LABS Collective, a co-working space based in London.
TTG hears from two interior design experts to gather their top tips for creating a calming and productive work space in your home.
The first step in ensuring you can work productively is by creating an area where you can get into work mode. “If you have the luxury of a home office, using different design details such as a desk and office chair are great ways to establish it as a ring-fenced area to be used only for work,” says Gooner.
If you don’t have an office at home and have a makeshift set-up, try doing different tasks from different areas in your home, to find what works best for you, suggests Tania Adir, founder and interior designer at London co-working space Uncommon.
It can also be helpful to vary which area of the home you work in, for example sitting at a proper desk in the morning and then switching to working on a comfy chair or in a more communal area in the afternoon.
The upside to working from home is being able to decide on what objects you have around you, says Adir.
“A home workspace allows you to have control over your working environment, from the furniture, plants and lighting to sounds and scent.”
Try to transform the areas of your home that are doubling up as your office space to motivate creativity and productivity, adds Gooner. She recommends well-placed artwork or personal items in your work area to make the space feel more comfortable and ground you with thoughts and feelings that have meaning to you.
“If the view in your home feels a little bleak, an easy way to switch up your decor to create a home-working vibe is to simply display some pictures or quotes that inspire you,” she advises.
Research consistently finds that plants in a work space decrease stress while increasing productivity and memory retention. Adir recommends house plants such as asparagus ferns or yuccas, which help filter the air and can even help reduce blood pressure.
Setting up your desk near a window will aid your body in following its circadian rhythms which, if disrupted, can lead to insomnia and digestion issues. “It also enhances the regulation of vitamin D, serotonin and melatonin, which make us feel happier and healthier, aiding our overall wellbeing,” says Gooner.
Sounds and smells are often overlooked but they are important factors in creating a sense of calm and boosting our mood, explains Adir. “If you need to concentrate, go for a [music] playlist that is slower and calmer, with less lyrics as they’re often distracting,” she says.
Investing in a subtle diffuser or scented candle can provide some background focus. “Lemon verbena in particular is known to aid concentration, while scents such as vanilla and cinnamon can help to boost creativity.”
Although a temporary home office may not be ergonomically designed in the same way an office might be, there are ways you can promote the same level of comfort and efficiency at home, says Gooner.
Investing in a good quality desk chair, designed to support posture during long hours of working, is a good idea. In the absence of a desk chair make sure you create a soft seat, that movement isn’t restricted by arm rests and that you pull it right up to the desk, advises Gooner.
Your screen should ideally be at your eye line, but if you’re using a laptop try to place it on top of a pile of your favourite coffee table books to elevate the screen then use a separate keyboard and mouse, she adds.
Keep the desk itself as free from clutter as possible, with just a desktop computer or laptop, a lamp and house plant on show.
“Dedicate one drawer or box to put pens, diaries, papers and books in, which can be placed under the table or out of sight,” says Adir.
It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of putting everything away at the end of each day, adds Adir.
“When you come to your desk in the morning there will be no clutter or tidying to be done, and you can sit down with a clear mind and start the day’s tasks.”