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Do your homework

17th November 2020

For many of us, our homes are currently also our workplaces. But how do we create a space and a routine that’s conducive to work but also calming in these stressful days? Alison Huntley asks the experts

As regular homeworkers already know, working from home (WFH) can raise a few issues. How do you turn home space into workspace? And how do you keep a firm boundary between work and home life?

Self-employed for 30 years, Lin Brice of Annie Moses Decorative is an old hand at WFH. Her top tip is zoning. “Try to pick a quiet area in the house to set up your ‘office’ and make it your dedicated space. Find a table or desk, at comfortable height, and a chair that fits the height of the table. I have a lovely old Victorian dressing screen as a room divider to ‘close the office’ at the end of the day.”

Birdie Fortescue loves her antique desk by a window overlooking the garden but suggests that if you don’t have a view, try the artful approach. “Find a piece of art that you love and hang it above your desk – I find art so inspiring,” she says. “I like to keep my workspace fairly minimal with a good lamp that gives a nice, even light.”

Birdie’s desk

When it comes to the all-important chair, Birdie adds that it helps if it’s sturdy and “doesn’t creak every time you move”. Use a cushion for back support and keep a throw nearby “just in case it does get a bit cold so that there’s no excuse not to keep on working!”

Interior designer, Kate Libovitz, always has a nice cup of tea on her desk and a scented candle. Both items may be small but they’re stress-busters. 

“I also like to have a pin board close by to tack up any cuttings from magazines, inspirational quotes, scraps of fabrics or images to keep me inspired when it’s busy and I am struggling to focus.

“I have also found I’ve been a lot more productive working straight after some exercise, be it walking the dog, or a spot of online yoga.”

Kate’s desk

Nanci Gillett of Burnham Interiors stresses a minimalist approach is best to aid concentration and avoid distraction.

“You are likely to work better if not surrounded by stuff.  Take what you can off your desk and put your pens, pencils and bits and bobs in pretty storage pots and organisers. Create a cosy, inviting and productive space with a comfy throw and a large pretty mug for that important coffee or tea.” Nanci also advises vigilance when it comes to maintaining work/home boundaries. “Clocking in and clocking out should become a priority.”

Janie Thompson of Thornham Deli says structuring your day like a normal workday helps, as does taking food breaks at usual times. She also thinks that the stress of current events is seriously tiring and that if you can, you should finish work a little earlier than normal to compensate.

“And as soon as you finish, do some form of exercise, even if it is just lying on the floor and doing basic stretching. Do something which takes your mind away from the situation around you.”

Whatever you approach working from home, the crucial thing, as Kate Libovitz says, is to “be kind to yourself and know that we are all in the same boat”.

Get in touch

Annie Moses Decorative,

Birdie Fortescue,

Burnham Interiors,

Kate Libovitz Design,

Thornham Deli,