For many, working from home has been part of their life for years. Honing remedies for writer’s block, or developing little rituals amid snow-blind screen-overload, the weekly rhythms of homebody business are long established and deeply personal. All change.
As the country begins its fourth week in lockdown, the fine arts of kitchen-counter laptop-balancing and not getting distracted by the cat have settled almost without warning into the national curriculum. While we’re all prioritising the essentials, it’s easy to forget the absolutely central importance of creating an environment for calm and focus; in times of crisis, more than ever.
How to carve space which allows for productivity, as well as inspiration — not to mention basic functionality? How to insist on your right to inhabit a world beyond breaking news alerts and twitter spirals? It’s no small feat, but we’ve pulled together our top tips for adapting to work’s sudden arrival in the places where we sleep, eat and play.
1. DRAW A LINE
Boundaries are paramount when it comes to keeping work where it belongs. Hyperconnectivity makes work-life equilibrium elusive at the best of times, carrying our careers around in our pockets as we do — how to draw a line when there isn’t one, between the place where we switch on and the site where we rest? Designating a particular room is one strategy; most people aren’t lucky enough to have a dedicated study at home, but temporarily repurposing the lounge (between nine and five) or even tucking an extra desk into a hallway alcove can be immeasurably beneficial in dividing work and play with physical limits. Otherwise, sectioning is superb: screens, or strategically placed shelves, can make a vacant corner feel like a CEO’s corner office. And if all else fails, retreat: our Eero Aarnio ball chair conjures its own universe, ideal for self-isolating in self-isolation. Snuggle down in a sphere, and keep the world at arm’s length.
2. STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES
There are countless upsides to working from home, as its dedicated practitioners will tell you. Beyond skipping the commute and wearing whatever you please, undertaking Serious Grown Up Responsibilities chez vous means you’re in total control of the set-up. Just because the normal state of play involves desk-and-chair-plus-pot-plant, there’s no reason you shouldn’t dictate emails into your phone while practicing downward dog. Or send invoices from the garden. Or work on the quarterly business plan, nestled in an outrageously playful anti-desk. Try a hammock, consider the swing chair, rent a squiggly sofa and embrace the flexibility of working on your terms.
Speaking of flexibility, it’s smart to aim for items which can fulfill more than one function — especially when square footage is lacking. If a table can hold family breakfast before folding out into a desk, so much the better — but there’s more to double-usage than surfaces. The right mirror can make a pokey spare room feel twice the size, while the subconscious benefits of breathing space (even if it’s a trick of the light) infuse that morning-routine companion with multi-use magic. Speaking of mirror gazing, experts recommend getting ready for a day at the dining table just as you would for one out in the world; dressing and grooming help people feel like people, so don’t throw in the towel there just yet — if only for that lunchtime zoom meeting.
We hope you’re enjoying the unique content our partners are sharing with you at this challenging time. At a time when it’s difficult to come together, we invite you to join us in supporting the vital work Mind Islington are doing to help the most vulnerable in the wider community.
You can donate directly to the charity here.