Working from home has its perks but there are always distractions, so making sure you have a designated work space is key. But how to make that home office a space that makes you feel inspired, creative and productive?
'Research tells us that sterile environments can cause increased feelings of stress and anxiety, while views of nature can lower heart rates and reduce those negative emotions,' explains Mind Support Worker, Lynne White. 'Figuring out which colours or smells make you feel calmer is definitely worth doing, particularly if you can use that information to create more positive spaces for yourself.'
With this in mind, the folks at Blooming Artificial have come up with top tips for creating a work environment you (almost) won’t want to leave…
1. Get the lighting right
When working indoors, it’s vital to allow in as much natural light as possible. Particularly during the winter and spring months, a lack of natural light available during the day can adversely affect moods, focus and your body clock - making you feel tired and damaging concentration levels. The typical home workspace offers less than half the amount of natural light recommended to keep your mood elevated.
Negative effects can be reduced by using a SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) lamp. The main benefit of these special lights is that they are designed to simulate natural daylight, and can help to trick your body into thinking you’re working outdoors – even when the weather doesn’t allow you to do so.
2. Add some greenery
Using plants as decorative items is an excellent way to spruce up a home office, as they can greatly affect the working environment in a positive and productive way, helping you into an improved state of mind. It is thought that adding plants to an office space can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and tension by up to 37 per cent, as well as increasing productivity and concentration by 15 per cent. Common houseplants remove carbon dioxide from the air, allowing you to benefit from a cleaner, healthier environment too.
While pot plants and flowers can help to brighten up the room by creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, if you are not great at taking care of plants, they could become a distraction. Modern artificial plants can be very high-quality, almost indistinguishable from the real thing – and they last all year round. As a result, their permanent and vibrant colours can help to brighten up any home office atmosphere, and bring a hint of low-maintenance ‘nature’ into your environment.
3. Make the most of windows
Depending on how your office is set up this may be a challenge, but always try to make the most of as much natural light as you can – even if that means moving your furniture around.
The amount of daylight that people are exposed to can directly affect their concentration, mood and sleep quality, making it especially vital to your wellbeing if you are working from home on a regular basis. If the weather is not particularly inspiring due to the seasons or location, it is still worth positioning yourself in sight of a window so that you aren’t solely reliant on SAD lamps to keep your mind awake.
4. Choose natural scents
When feeling tired at work, many people reach for coffee or sugary foods in order to boost their energy enough to get to the end of the day, but it almost goes without saying that this is not a healthy long-term strategy. A less intrusive technique is to use scented candles or natural essential oils. Lighting an array of scented candles may not be too popular in a busy office, but at home, it’s a subtle form of aromatherapy that could be the perfect remedy to brain fog as the day goes on. It may seem strange, but smell is a powerful sense and is a great way to help set a mood, reduce stress and get you into the right mind-set for working.
Top tip: When choosing scents, do a bit of research into their properties; for example, cinnamon can stimulate the senses and improve concentration, citrus can help with alertness, and jasmine or rosemary can help with relaxation.
5. Get outdoors
When it is time for a break, many people are likely to switch from their laptop to a mobile device to catch up on social media. However, moving from screen to screen is not a healthy way to maintain concentration.
Refresh yourself by turning off home working screens and taking a short walk, or even something as simple as having a cup of tea outside. The combination of movement and fresh air can help to reduce stress, and keep you both mentally and physical healthy. Even if it is just 10 minutes, spending some time outside will help to rejuvenate you and get the best out of your afternoon’s work.