Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1B 4DA
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17th April 2020 | 5 min read
Current government restrictions mean working from home is the new ‘normal’ for many and can be challenging. We spoke to our talented Head of Design, Yaara Gooner, to get her advice on creating a comfortable and productive space at home.
“We design and create environments for people to thrive, with a focus on wellness, where members and guests can be at their most productive and feel their best. The way our members experience the space is at the core of the design process; decisions are made based on our understanding of human behaviours and social interactions. The scale, materials and finishes are all designed to care for the people using them, to provide a stage for people to flourish, connect and collaborate. My advice for creating a productive environment at home follows these same principles.”
For those who don’t have a dedicated office, it’s important to create distinguished spaces to maintain the boundaries between life and work. If you have the luxury of an at home office using different design details is a great way to establish this as an area to be used only for work. Likewise, if you’ve had to set up a desk in the corner of a room or commandeered a dining table, you must make sure you clear the space of any ‘office’ items at the end of the day. Make use of your usual commuting time to set up or put away your office.
Keeping the air circulating in your home will help you stay focused and productive. In LABS spaces we use specialist air filtration systems that ensure the quality of air is clean and refreshed. We know this won’t be possible at home, but simply opening a window from time to time will create a revitalise the atmosphere and have a similar effect.
Research consistently finds adding plants to the workplace decreases stress while increasing productivity, memory retention and compassion. Nature is imperative to the LABS design process and we’ve pledged to have at least one plant per every 10sqm and it’s said that one medium sized-plant per 5sqm can absorb 75% of airborne pollutants. Working in an environment with lower toxicity not only improves worker productivity but also improves health so incorporate plants in your home where possible.
Our bodies respond to the changing light so always try to maximise natural light in your workspace. If possible, set up your desk near a window as this will aid your body in following its daily cycle of physical, mental and behavioural changes. Maximising natural daylight is at the forefront of the development phase of LABS and STAY spaces and I really encourage you to make the best use of it in your home. It also enhances the regulation of Vitamin D, serotonin and melatonin which make us feel happier and healthier.
Your home office or temporary workspace may not be ergonomically designed in the same way an office might be, but there are ways you can create the same comfort and efficiency. If possible invest in a quality desk chair as this will help with posture and support . In the absence of a desk chair try to make sure you have a soft seat and that you pull it right into the desk. Your screen should be at eye line and if you’re confined to a laptop place it on top of a pile of your favourite books to elevate the screen then use a separate keyboard and mouse.
Your home office is where you will be spending a lot of your waking hours now that we’re working from home. Well-placed artwork or personal items in your work area will make the space feel more comfortable and ground you with thoughts and feelings that have meaning to you.
In addition to creating different zones with our physical spaces, the way we dress can also help with achieving the head space we need for productivity at work. Resist the temptation to stay in lounge wear and dress as if you were going into the office. This will really support the idea of compartmentalising our time to avoid that work/life blur.
Working from home can be challenging so it’s vital to focus on looking after yourself and to keep moving. Weekly exercise classes are something we’re encouraging our members to continue at home so if you have the space, create an area which will allow you to take part in these. Don’t be put off by a lack of equipment as household items can provide surprisingly good alternatives, try a sticky bathmat in place of a yoga mat or tins of food as weights. A change of scenery can also provide a welcome respite from your new ‘office’ so make sure you take your one daily walk if you can, even if it’s just a stroll round the block the fresh air will do wonders for your mind and body.
And finally, stay connected and be inspired – until a sense of normality resumes, be sure to stay connected to family, friends, and colleagues. Social distancing is actually only physical distancing, we can still say social with all the technology available to us. It’s also a good time to try and have a slightly quieter, calmer life; take time to find inspiration; listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, read magazines and books. The LABS ‘Stay-Insider’, available to all LABS members, keeps the essence of LABS alive beyond our physical buildings, This weekly edit honours our mission to motivate productivity, inspire collaboration and create environments for our members to thrive digitally.
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