As lockdowns come and go, it's more important than ever that your workspace is flexible and organised. Since we were all told to work from home in March 2020, social media has been full of people demonstrating their home-office set-ups, but how can you get it right?
1. Find Your Space
How and where we work is continually evolving, and staying organised is critical. Whether you're home-schooling or negotiating workspace and time alongside a partner who's doing the same, you need to find a workspace you can call your own - even if it's just for a few hours.
A Social Market Foundation study in 2015 found that happy employees are up to 20 per cent more productive than unhappy ones, so make sure the space you use for work is stress-free.
Try to avoid a workspace that is easily disturbed by others in your home. If you're lucky enough to have a door that you can shut, place a sign on it when you need privacy for business calls or thinking time.
2. Get Organised
Have everything to hand. You don't want to be moving around the house to find a pen or a notepad when the muse strikes.
Smart working spaces are critical - even if you pack it all up at the end of the day.
It sounds obvious, but make sure your chosen space has power for your charging cables. Avoid overloading the sockets or having cables trailing across the floor.
3. Be Tech-Smart
Use the technology that allows you to work smartly. Whether you're using a laptop or a desktop, ensure it has the apps you need and keep them updated.
If you use a laptop regularly, think about using a separate mouse and even a keyboard. If you speak to clients online regularly, invest in a separate microphone.
Avoid loneliness by using an online calendar for planning catch-up calls with work colleagues. Zoom, Teams and Meet aren't just for business.
4. Control Your Comfort
Ergonomic chairs and sleek sit-stand desks can be pricey, but the key is to design your own office that suits you. There's even a Greek-designed bed-desk hybrid that is beautifully-designed and useful if you are pushed for space.
If you're fortunate, some bosses fund home office set-up, particularly as home working continues.
Consider whether you need a large desk where you can spread out papers, designs and stationery or just a space for your laptop.
Many online bidding sites are a great place to find desks and chairs on a budget, and some local markets still have stalls where you can pick up a bargain that someone else has discarded.
5. Bring Nature In
Natural light and plants are proven to have a positive effect. Research by Norway's Agricultural University in Oslo indicated that plants remove harmful volatile organic compounds found in paint, carpet and furniture.
Get the lighting right: setting up next to a window with natural light will help your eyesight, and opening it to let fresh air in fits with the key pieces of advice from the United Nations on halting the spread of Coronavirus and other diseases.
Many online businesses supply plants that suit your environment. Pop to a local garden centre and ask one of their experts for advice. Many local markets also have plant growers who would be happy to help.
Make sure the space you create brings joy. It should be somewhere that allows you to be productive and creative.