The last two weeks have seen unprecedented changes to many peoples working environment, with a large section of the British workforce being required to work from home.   Any change in our normal routine can be a stressful time and currently the changes have been so considerable, it can become overwhelming.  Setting up a workspace at home would usually take some planning and this situation being thrown upon us at short notice may not be to everyone’s liking!  First of all, you no longer have your colleagues around you so you may feel isolated and unproductive.  You may struggle to adapt to working with the added noise and activity around you whilst all the family are confined to the home.  TV, children, partners and pets can all cause distractions making it difficult to concentrate on the work in hand.  On top of this, you may be worried about elderly parents or family members who can’t be with you and suddenly your whole life is disrupted.  You may be on furlough leave, in which case, it may be easier to cope with by introducing a new routine and enjoying doing all the jobs around the house you have been meaning to do for – forever!

However, for those of us that need to adjust to working from home, it’s worthwhile taking a bit of time to create your own space to continue doing your job.  And let’s face it, you are part of the bigger picture that will keep this country going and pull us out of this situation when the time comes to getting back to some sort of normality.

Some people may think that interior design is all about making your home pretty with wallpaper and cushions, but it is so much more than that!  The way we use and move around our space and the psychological impact of our surrounding is so important to our personal well-being.  As an interior designer I see myself as a problem solver, and I personally, much like many of our Great British public at the moment, want to utilise my skills and experience to help others when we all need to pull together to make everyone’s live more tolerable in these times of restrictions and life changing moments.  So let’s push the reset button and make some positive steps towards working from home.

Tip 1.  Allocate a day to get back on track and put your ‘working from home’ plan into action.   Find a place in the home where you can work uninterrupted for a set time each day.   This could be a spare room, a table within another room or the obligatory junk room.  Even a shed or garage!  The most important thing here is to make it you own space, whether that is for a set time each day or somewhere you can leave each night and shut the door.

Tip 2.  Get to work on surrounding yourself with all the items you need to perform your job without having to leave your desk, pretty much as it would be at work!  Clear the space of unuseful stuff if, even if this means putting things into storage boxes or having a good sort out to rid yourself of this junk FOREVER!  Don’t put it in to landfill, find a local charity and save it for them until a time when they are able to take donations or offer it as freebies as there are a lot of families who can do with help right now (being mindful of safe distancing and contamination).

Tip 3.  So hopefully now you will have a relatively clear space and you can concentrate on creating your home office.  If need be, find some paint to freshen up the space, white is great for this purpose.  This may seem a bit of a hard slog, but it will be well worth it, especially as we may be on lock-down for up to six months.  Create a desk using what you have whether this be a dining, garden table or dressing table.  Any books or ornaments should already be out of sight (tip 1) and use space on shelves or bookcases to house your files or filing boxes.  Have a group picture of work colleagues rather than family, that can keep you motivated through the day (this is the reverse of having family photos on your desk at work and will remind you of what you are working to achieve).  If you are working within a family space follow make sure you put all your work-related files, laptop, etc. out of sight when you’ve finished work.

Tip 4.  Use colour and image psychology.  This is less daunting than you may think.  Use colours and images of nature to make you feel connected to the world, even though your world feels a lot different right now.  Sky Blue, Sea Green and Sunshine Yellow will keep you uplifted and remind you of the things in life that we really appreciate. this will have an immediate effect on your mood as we all feel shut in at the moment.  Be creative.  Print a picture you like from the internet, or your company mission statement and put it in a frame.  Move pictures and plants from other rooms.  Buy growing herbs on your supermarket visit and sit them on your windowsill. There are so many ways to improvise with a bit of imagination (and who couldn’t do with that right now!)

Tip 5.  It’s likely that you can reduce your working hours to a few hours a day as less demands are put upon us.  Cram this in, whatever is the best time of the day FOR YOU, we all work better at our peak time, so restriction is the key to remaining productive.  This will free up your time to get on with the important things in life, like taking time to exercise once a day, spend time with your family, read a book, learn a language, catch up on boxsets.  All those things we long to do… If only we had the time?!!