Emergency ‘chic’ home-working environment

If you’re likely to be working from home unexpectedly in the coming weeks, you may not have time to create a dream home office – but you can certainly make the space available work as well – and look as good on video calls – as possible.

Ergonomics & practicalities

  • Choose, if possible, an ergonomic chair & desk. Working from your bed will rapidly cause you pain.
  • If you are in a shared house with minimal space, a leaning desk is a good space-saving option;
  • Corral into the ‘office’ all the chargers, plugs, adapters, etc you need to operate all your tech, including headphones with a microphone.
  • Prepare for the internet to be slow with everyone using their home networks. Aim to plan ahead, identify work you can do offline and download the documents you need in advance.
Attractive velvet sofa and round side table with beats headphones, water and umbrella plant
Home working essentials
Cat’s work-station with built-in toe elevation
Desk set up for home working with two screens
Jo’s home-working set-up

Get ‘Skype-ready’

Even if you’re a regular home worker, you can expect a huge increase in video-calls if your colleagues, clients, etc. are also working from home. As well as the vital advice in this article on making yourself presentable, prepare your workspace:

  • Set your video-camera at the right height. A desk-level laptop will generate a view of your chin. Either raise your computer (and prepare for not using it for the duration of the call by printing docs or making notes in advance) or use your phone or ipad/ equivalent as your video portal – prop it on a shelf/ stack of books, etc.
  • Think about light. Maximise natural light by opening curtains, but be aware that if these are behind you, you will be a mysterious silhouette on screen – so you may need to set up suitable desk lighting too.
  • If the view behind you is in any way embarrassing, and not easy to change, create a theatrical backdrop. This could be a lovely screen or drape, or even an (ironed) sheet.
  • Ideally, dissuade co-habitees who are also working from home from ‘walking through shot’ in the background (especially if partially dressed)
Vectorworks with a view – Katherine’s sunny spot
A rare at-desk selfie against a stylish Peignor-painted wall.
Desk set up for home working with mobile phone stand, cable tidy boxes and anglepoise
Cable tidy boxes, a mobile phone stand, and a separate monitor all help with ergonomic set up.

Make it lovely

You may be spending a lot of time in your home office. Make it a space you are happy to be in. This is particularly important if it is actually a corner of another room.

  • De-clutter – daily if you need to…
  • Reduce cable spaghetti with a cable tidy box (or even use an old handbag to do this!)
  • Add some house-plants (see our Biophilic Design blog for more on why this matters)
  • Bring in some artwork or ‘objets’ from elsewhere in your home that make you happy – ideally as natural as possible.
  • Keep (Skype-suitable) cushions/ throws nearby to change how your space looks and feels during the day.
  • Light a candle (remember to extinguish it before leaving the room) or use a diffuser.
  • Use the time you’re compelled to spend at home thinking of how you can make it better – paint a wall, hang some art, rearrange some furniture – or for more extensive renovation/ redesign advice, call us…
Sheer curtains and hanging plants in  south facing window in a home-office
Sheer curtains are a must in a south-facing office, and plants are just a must!
Fruit and a gorgeous desktop picture (Rose Bay Sydney) keep Leah’s spirits up
Artwork on top of a shelf of books and boxes in a home office
Artwork on top of otherwise cluttered shelves keeps the view skype-friendly.