Thinking positively – making your office space work for you

home office

We have all dealt with working from home differently. We’ve adapted in ways we never thought we would and have become used to aspects of our working lives being diversely different. One of the key topics of the WFH debate has been around mental health and general wellbeing. We’re not all fortunate enough to have a home office, so in light of recent discussions about hybrid working being here to stay, how do we make sure we feel good when we’re ‘at work’, despite not leaving the house?

A workspace for you

Your WFH environment needs to be a place that you feel comfortable in, but also where you can be productive. Some people like the surround themselves with the familiar, or clutter, while others want no distractions at all. If you think about your office environment in your workplace, it’s often quite neutral, sterile even. The space is functional and it serves its purpose. Aspects like plants and sofas sometimes add a bit of minimalist character. But employers are realising that when more effort and thought is put into work environments, the greater rewards they garner in terms of staff wellbeing and productivity. The same should apply to where you work at home too.

Dressed to impress

At home, some people differentiate between relaxing and working by dressing differently. This is a good way of maintaining the boundary between these different activities. The jokes about people working in their pyjamas or from bed only go so far and eventually both productivity and mental health will be impacted. Not differentiating between where you work and where you sleep can have serious impacts on your sleep patterns, especially if you begin to associate negative aspects of work – such as stress – with your bedroom. Equally, if your other living spaces become given over to work – your kitchen table for example, or your dining table – then you can start to associate somewhere that was always a relaxing, neutral space with work. Dressing for work can help buffer against any negative associations with your environment, as you are ‘at work’. It’s a separate ‘you’ from just being at home.

Colour me confident

It’s all about discovering what works best for you. I tend to use different clothes, to distinguish from work and home life – even though the kitchen is only one step away from my home office.  It just makes me feel as though I’m not ‘at home’, but rather engages my mind in a more productive, business-like mode. You hold yourself differently if you are more smartly dressed and your posture impacts on how you feel and how you appear to others – for example, via video conferencing. Also, as someone who likes colour, it’s very important to me and energises me when I’m in a positive environment.

Having vibrant colours for me makes for a really creative environment and one that I feel comfortable and confident in. For you it might be something more functional, that more closely resembles your workplace office. Or it may be completely littered with clutter – again, perhaps that resembles your workplace office. It’s about getting the balance right. You don’t have to stick to one environment. Swap things around and find out what works best for you – for you to work best.

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