While working from home may have been a shiny novelty last year, this year, as millions of Australians are in lockdown again and finding themselves tapping away at their dining room table or in their bedroom, the sheen has well and truly worn off.
But, with that said, there are a few things we can do to make WFH slightly more bearable. Enjoyable, even. They’re design styling tweaks we can do to our home workspace to make it more comfortable, inspiring and aesthetically pleasing.
Ahead, Sydney-based interior stylist and owner of interior styling business Unfolded, Camilla Ingall, shares what those adjustments are. And while some involve ordering a few products online, others are changes you can make in less than five minutes. Which considering they could make your work day infinitely times better sounds like a pretty good use of time to us.
Invest in a stand-up pop-up desk
Sure, this might sound like a big investment, but buying a stand-up pop-up desk could wind up being the best thing you ever did. Ingall recommends The Stand-Up Desk Compact or an Officeworks Standing Desk.
“You can use this standing at the desk, with a stand-up stool or sitting on a medicine ball,” she says. “And the pop-up desk can go anywhere in the home – it’s 1.2m wide so tiny and able to fit into any corner.”
Place a rug under your desk
To make your existing workspace more comfortable, Ingall suggests buying or, if you have one already, grabbing a round rug and placing it under your desk. “It’ll warm up the space and be warm under your feet – especially now during winter,” she says.
If you’re working at your dining room table, Ingall recommends placing a jute rug underneath. “They’re affordable, kid-friendly, easy to clean and look great,” she says. “Plus, they’re versatile with their natural texture and neutral tone so can be moved around different areas of the home.”
Accessorise your desk
As if you were in the office, accessorise your WFH desk. “It’ll feel more personal,” says Ingall. “Add your favourite coffee mug, some funky coasters or even shout yourself a new mouse pad.”
Set up your workspace near natural light
If you can, set up your workspace near a window or glass doors, Ingall says.
“It’s a healthy thing as well – having any sort of natural light streaming through will boost your vitamin D, ward off seasonal depression and improve your sleep, as well as generally make you feel more comfortable,” she says.
Add a desk lamp
If you don’t have too much natural light in your place or work late, consider a desk lamp. “This will make your space feel warm and inviting and help to create a centre of focus,” she says.
“When you are needing to self-motivate daily, this is particularly important as the actioning of ‘turning on’ the lamp can provide structure and sense of centring.”
Place your mirrors strategically
Here’s one for those in a dark space. When placed strategically, mirrors can help to amplify light and double your light source, says Ingall.
“Play around with an existing mirror or buy a wall-hung mirror or floor-standing mirror that can lean against any area of the home,” she says. “This is an effective way of not only reflecting light, but also bringing the outdoors in.”
Change your lightbulbs
Another easy way to better the lighting in your home, as well as to adjust the mood and atmosphere, is to replace your lightbulbs. “Everything in a room is impacted by the light source in that room,” says Ingall. “And the colour temperature of your light can have a big impact on the way you live and work.”
So, what light should we be steering clear of? “Bright, fluorescent lights, which can be alarming, and warm, yellow-toned lights, which can create sluggishness and affect visibility while working at a computer,” advises Ingall.
“Opt for a natural-lighting globe – cool white LEDs,” she says. “It’s a happy medium and suits practical applications.”
Bonus tip: “Work in an area with the highest ceilings because it’ll feel more spacious and less dungeon-y. And with the globes – think less yellow, more white.”
Invest in a quality chair
If you’re still using your dining room chair, don’t. It’s time to invest in a proper one. A non-ergonomic chair can lead to lower back pain and stiff shoulders. Ingall recommends Seated’s Fast Chairs, or, for more of an investment, an office chair from Herman Miller or Wilkhahn.
And when you do go back into work, you can even take the new chair into work with you as it’ll be a personal fit.
Add fresh flowers or plants to your desk
Add fresh flowers in your favourite vase or plants (Ingall recommends Devil’s Ivy as you can cut and replant them around the home) to your desk. “Plants help to keep us in contact with nature and the outside world,” she says.
Maintain separate work and relax areas
And finally, and probably the easiest – yet most effective in terms of productivity – tweak you can make is to maintain a separation between your workspace and the rest of your home.
“Act like you’re leaving the house in the morning,” says Ingall. “And, at the end of the day, turn of the table lamp, pop your office chair into the garage or tuck it away under the desk and then clean the space so you’ll be ready for a fresh working area and mindset the next day.”