Working from home - Tips on creating a productive environment.

Why creating the right setting for working from home can make all the difference.

Whilst watching a UK TV show one Sunday evening, I learnt a fascinating but when I think about it, obvious fact. Humans need time in nature not only for sunlight and fresh air but because our bodies rely on our sense of smell to connect with nature – without it we don’t thrive. I am totally intrigued by this!

For the past few years, ever since I’ve started running my own business and working from home, I’ve been on a quest to perfect my home office set-up! I started with the more obvious things like the adjustable electric desk that allows for standing and sitting throughout the working day.

I then moved on to the wobbly stool (inspired by a friend’s partner) to help with my posture and bad back.

I worked on my tech set up – the height of my screen, headsets and Bluetooth keyboard and the list goes on (likely a blog for another time!). I even created a docking station for all mobile devices and installed a state-of-the-art printer.

None of these basics made me feel any differently though fundamentally. Work was still work and the home office could have been pretty much anywhere.

So, I started to think about the things that would make me feel different and approached it from a more intuitive and tactile perspective. Thinking about things like textures, smells, light, visuals. How could I create a space in which to work from home, where I felt invited in and enjoyed spending time?

To help create the sense of being invited in, I included my favourite books, pictures and even installed a yoga pad on the floor for times when I want to reflect or work in a different way. 

Light has always been an issue for me. I’ve spent years working in fancy metal boxes some of them very high up in the sky (even though I dislike heights intensely) with tinted windows feeling very light deprived the whole year long. In my home office, I have one window that looks out onto a lovely apple tree that I have open most of the time, but it still doesn’t afford sufficient natural light especially on those long stretches of London grey that we get between November and March. I decided to install a SAD (seasonal adjustment disorder) lamp. The lamp is switched on most of the day at this time of the year and it makes a huge difference. The space now has a lovely warm glow almost to it and I feel better.

I also have classical music playing for much of the day in the background. Especially when I am doing work that requires me to focus. The research is quite interesting when it comes to classical music and concentration.

Letting you into a secret though, there is one item that has had the biggest impact. Without knowing the research about smell and connecting to nature, I decided I needed a diffuser*. Using it primarily in the winter months when the days are short and it’s often hard to get outside because it’s so wet! For me, it’s a game changer – if I’m struggling with concentration, inspiration, tiredness – there are different smelling oils to help with each of these. Many of these oils connect you directly to nature. Before dismissing it – try it. You may just be amazed!

My home office is now somewhere I feel comfortable. Critically, in these times, it’s an important and welcome part of our home. I recognise that many are struggling to find places where they can feel comfortable to work from especially if your home is constrained in size. But it looks like we’ll be working in this way for a quite a while longer so it may be worth thinking about even some small changes you can make to help create a space that works for you and welcomes you in which forms a welcome part of your home.

It is amazing what you can create if you listen to your intuition and needs as a starting point. You may just surprise yourself!

I would love to see any photos of what you create or have created, so please feel free to share.

*if you’re unfamiliar with what this is, it’s basically a little electric gadget which allows you to add oils to make rooms smell – avoid the artificial ones and go for natural oils. Rebecca Hill

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