Home Improvement Options to Consider for HomeworkersLynda Cosentino
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated many social changes, one of the most notable being a huge increase in home working. In a recent BBC poll surveying almost fifty of the UK’s biggest employers, who account for 1.1 million workers in this country, almost all of them said that they do not plan to bring staff back into the office full-time when Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed. Instead, they will encourage employees to work partly at home and partly in the workplace.
As people adapt to their new lifestyle, now is a good time to make improvements to homes to reflect the longer hours that will be spent there in the future.
The heart of the home
While, pre-pandemic, the kitchen might have been a fuelling station that topped and tailed the working day, visited for breakfast in the morning and dinner at night, lockdown restrictions have often seen it increasingly become the central hub of the house, where the family can meet, chat, work, cook and eat together throughout the entire day.
It has also become a multipurpose space; lockdown has seen a resurgence in interest in home cooking and the surface where you knead sourdough in the morning may be needed as a workstation or a school desk later. So it’s important to use a material that it’s robust enough, such as Oak Timber, to stand up to repeated and varied use. “Alongside its natural beauty, our Oak Timber has its origins at the Black Sea Region and it grows to become up to 15% denser and harder,” says House of Worktops Director Mert Yashar, “Hence this makes […] Oak Worktop an extremely hard-wearing timber surface that will certainly last a lifetime.”.
In an ideal world, every home would have a spare room that could be converted into an office, but that’s simply not possible for many. Yet creating a dedicated space is often quoted as the cardinal rule of homeworking. It’s time to look around with a critical eye and decide where space can be adopted and adapted to accommodate homeworking.
A pantry with inbuilt shelving which can be converted into a snug office could be an ideal solution. Or, think of creative ways to utilise unused space under the stairs to cover into a cosy home.
However, a kitchen table or even a breakfast bar can also be utilised as a workstation with a bit of imagination and practical application. If it’s possible to isolate your new ‘office desk’ from the rest of the room using a piece of furniture, a screen or a curtain to create a ‘work zone’, so much the better.
Clear your clutter
If you have no option but to commandeer the kitchen table that’s going to be used for its original dining purposes later, there are ways of making it work for you. Try to minimise your use of stationery and only spread out the paperwork and accessories you really need to use, so there is less clearing up later.
Hang a large canvas bag from the corner of the table or nearby, so you can scoop all your work into it, or maybe invest in a storage trolley with wheels, so you can load it up and move it to an out-of-the-way location when you’ve finished.
Health and safety
Your employer has a legal duty to maintain a healthy office environment and you should take your physical and mental wellbeing equally seriously when you’re working from home.
In a survey by Hubble title ‘Should we ditch the office?’, 1 in 5 respondents named a negative impact on their mental health as one of the main reasons why they’ve disliked working from home. Therefore it’s a great idea to make the most of natural light whenever you can; exposure to daylight not only prevents eye strain but can lift mood and morale.
An ergonomic chair or chair supports for an existing seat are a sound investment to avoid back trouble and AXA also recommends raising your laptop to eyebrow level to avoid slouching; if you don’t have a laptop stand, a pile of books makes a perfectly adequate substitute!
By foregoing your commute and your shop-bought lunch every day, you are already improving your carbon footprint, so why not look at other ways to go green?
You will be generating more refuse while working at home, so dispose of it considerately or reuse it whenever you can. Old newspapers placed in the bottom of your food bin to soak up liquid leakage or used to wrap smelly food waste will help absorb foul odours – a useful tip if you’re working from your kitchen and have no outside space to store rubbish.
Energy costs will also probably rise when you’re working from home all day, so it makes sense to research a provider that offers greener practices, as well as a cheaper tariff.
While you want your home work station to look business-like for those inevitable Zoom calls, don’t forget the kind of personal touches that will make it an attractive place to sit, such as a pot plant, quirky stationery or a favourite photograph.
Your commute may now be reduced to a few steps within your own house, but by making your workspace both practical and personal, it can become a place where you look forward to ‘going to work’ every day.
Author Bio: Kelly Edwards has always had an innate passion for design, construction, and art. Since graduating many moons ago, Kelly is now in the process of writing her first book around interior design for newcomers – watch this space! Feel free to check out Kelly’s style over on Pinterest: @KellyEdwardsInterior.