Working full time in an office will undoubtedly become a thing of the past, another major change since it was made illegal to smoke in all enclosed work places in England on 1st July 2007, as a consequence of the Health Act 2006. Yet despite previous changes to our working environments, nothing has altered the definition of office life like the COVID-19 pandemic. With businesses around the world making the decision to transition employees to a remote working environment, it’s a change that will likely remain with “two-thirds of surveyed organisations expecting some level of expanded working from home policies to remain in place over the long term” according to SPG Global.
2020 proved to be a year of challenges that we never anticipated and as with any big change, adapting our homes and converting relaxation/family areas to makeshift offices was an unexpected part of the process.
We reached out to Nichola Hayler, an Interior Designer with almost a decade of experience transforming peoples homes and two years of Counsellor training under her belt who said: ”The past year has taught us many lessons, and among those is the need for our homes to promote positive mental health. The pandemic has forced many of us to convert our sanctuaries into offices, and work/life balance seems even more elusive but I believe there are things we can do to create a harmonious home-office environment.”
With the question of how to make your at home office space work for you, we asked Nichola to give us her top 5 tips to maximise the space you have to remain as effective in your role as you always have been.
Declutter your workspace
”We’ve all been there, working at the kitchen table with a pile of household bills to our left, and our lunch leftovers to the right. Clutter is incredibly distracting and clearing it is one of the best ways to unblock your mind.
Start by relocating anything in your line of view that does not relate to work. If you’re pushed for space, I suggest purchasing stackable trays for paperwork and baskets for loose, miscellaneous items.
Don’t forget to clean the surface before you commence working – a friend of mine once said that a simple coffee stain on her desk was enough to distract her! This may eat into five minutes of your working day, but you’ll be surprised at what a quick tidy up can do for your productivity.”
Tap into your senses
”This is a great way to engage our brains for the task ahead. Something as simple as lighting a candle can completely change our energy, not to mention boost our mood. Try choosing scents that evoke the energy required for each task; invigorating Lemongrass increases concentration, and the soothing notes of Ylang-ylang are great for shaking off the workday.”
Take regular breaks
”It can be difficult to step away from your job when you work from home, but breaks are an absolute must to maximise concentration and minimise overwhelm. Our brains can usually focus at peak level for a maximum of 90 minutes, so try scheduling regular short intervals where you allow yourself to pause and reconnect with the present moment.
As someone who has experienced overwhelm, I can’t reinforce the importance of this enough.”
Bring the outside, inside
”Plants have been proven to reduce stress and aid concentration through their “biophilic effect” i.e., the sensory experience of nature. We breathe new energy into our being by adding greenery to our workspaces.
Struggling with noise-related distractions? Recent studies show that their dense foliage absorbs background noise, so our little green friends do much more than just look pretty. Cacti, Snake plants and Aloe Vera are great low-maintenance options to liven up your space.”
”Jumping straight from work into our evening duties is likely to exacerbate a feeling of imbalance. But a clear break can do wonders for our mental health. To do this, I like to create rituals which signal to my brain that down-time has begun. Simply changing your clothes after work can be enough to press the reset button. And if you really want to begin anew, a shower is a great way to symbolically wash off the day’s stresses.”
Later this year Nichola will be launching My Sacred Space, a place dedicated to creating spaces for rest, reflection, and retreat. For more information you can follow her progress on social media using @createmysacredspace
Website *coming soon*: www.mysacred-space.com