If you are a regular reader of the IBA Blog you will know that we are extremely passionate on the benefits of having a dedicated work space if you’re an at-home blogger. Having your own work space is essential for anyone that works from home and making sure you dedicate enough time to its design as you would any other room is just as important. We’ve asked the experts their working from home advice to help you create a motivational home office…
Melanie Lissack headshot
I treat my home office the same as the rest of my home, by filling it with things that I love and get incredible enjoyment looking at! It makes me want to spend as much time in the space as possible and is a key element in raising my productivity levels. Brands like HAY make beautiful versions of usually ugly, functional office items like paper clips and scissors. I also always light a candle on my desk, even in summer, as I love the air to have a soft, calming scent. It just relaxes me when I know I have an inbox full of emails to answer! I choose citrus fragrances in summer and more musky, woody scents in the winter. Read Melanie's blog.
Kate Baxter, Fabric of my Life
Where you work should be a space that makes you feel empowered and motivated. It’s important to remove anything from the space that doesn’t spark joy (think piles of bills or stacks of unpaid invoices – grr!), keep things as organised as possible and bring in a few biophilic elements, such as potted houseplants or a naturally scented candle, to help reduce your stress levels and boost productivity and creativity. Anything in your workspace that connects you to the natural world can help facilitate effortless concentration when your direct focus on a task begins to wane - just a few minutes looking out onto the garden can help my mind recharge and regain focus. Read Kate's Blog.
Victoria Jackson, Apartment Number 4
Feng Shui is something I’ve only recently started to delve deeper in to but a simple change I made in my office at the end of last year has been incredibly impactful – for both my business and my bank account. It is said that if you place your desk against the wall, which let’s face it most of us do in smaller properties to save on space, you’re ultimately putting yourself in the “Poverty Position”. According to the ancient rules of Feng Shui, you are literally turning your back on income and opportunities that come through the door. But by simply turning your chair around to the other side of the desk, you are opening your mind to new possibilities and welcome fresh income with open arms. I made this change, and regardless of whether you believe in the power of energy, it was refreshing to look out onto an open space, rather than directly into a wall. Read Victoria's blog.
Emma Jane Palin
Working from home can be tricky, even if you have the perfect setup! Home is full of distractions and for me, it's important to separate the two. I try to curate a space that feels like I'm entering the world of work with a good office chair, large desk, task lighting and even little things like a jug of water to stop me from leaving every two minutes. Storage is key - a messy office is never appealing - and I like to have some of my favourite books and magazines around as a reference point or to just break up the day. Oh, and let's not forget the key ingredient of wearing shoes. Shoes change everything. Read Emma Jane's blog.
Carole King, Dear Designer's Blog
Working from home does require a certain amount of discipline. I'm lucky that I have a room to call my own and I'm quite self-motivated, but it's always tempting to down tools when writers block hits or the sun is shining outside. Which is why I made it a priority to make my home office a nice place to be. And why I am obsessively tidy. I simply can't work with a messy desk, or with stacks of paperwork around me. Some people love to work with music playing, but I'm the opposite. I need silence. In fact my morning ritual is this; make coffee, shut door, tidy desk, light scented candle, turn on PC, start. It's what works for me. Read Carole's blog.
Bianca Hall, French for Pineapple
Working from home can be tricky if you’re easily distracted like me, but there are four key things that help me focus, which are lighting, warmth, comfort and calm surroundings.
The directional light of a desk lamp helps me focus, and I also have my desk right next to the window for natural light which definitely makes me happy. Replacing an old, too small radiator has turned my office from an ice-box to a cosy space, and I have a super comfortable Flokk chair at my desk.
I prefer not to have too many visual distractions when I’m working, so although I have my pin board for inspiration and reminders, I have used very neutral calm tones for the wall and furniture colours, even the fabric I have used on my pin board tones in with the wall colour.
I find a combination of the above definitely helps me stay focussed. Read Bianca's blog.
Gemma Gear, That's So Gemma
Working in the design industry, I have to keep my office quite organised so that I can get the most out of the space I have, and utilise storage to the maximum. I use labelled storage boxes, magazine files and drawers to keep everything orderly. Despite being a huge lover of colour, I’ve recently found that keeping my office scheme monochrome makes me far more productive, as it’s less distracting and doesn’t in any way influence any of my design ideas/projects. I also absolutely love plants, and think they’re brilliant for adding a focal point to any room. Along with all their air purifying benefits, they also help reduce stress and fatigue which is perfect for an office environment! Read Gemma's blog.
Alison Davidson, @alisonaddingstyle
First of all you need a routine, not always easy…but I make myself get up at 7.30 each day, check in and post on social media then get stuck in. Lists, I can’t live without them. It gives me focus at the start of each day and reminds me where I got to yesterday. When the lists start to get scrappy, make a new list of whatever is left on the old list, crossing things off is very satisfying. You could put this onto a calendar and be super-efficient.
It’s too easy to sit at your computer all day and not move which isn’t good for your mental or physical health. Try and get out for a walk each day even if it’s just around the block, even if it’s raining.
If you can, a separate work space is the best idea, I am lucky in that I have a room on the ground floor (it used to be the playroom) and it looks onto the garden, so again good for mental health and makes you feel connected to the outside.
Instead of a traditional desk, I have a large piece of painted mdf with glass on the top. This gives me a larger working surface and the glass makes it easy to clean. A proper office chair is a must, especially if you spend a large part of the day looking at a screen. For your computer screen, make sure it’s the right height to prevent neck, wrist and eye strain.
Regular clear outs – you inevitably end up with lots of paperwork. Invest in a filing tray, put everything in it, and once the paperwork reaches the top, have a clear out. I have a series of shelves above the desk, custom-made to fit the space, where I keep magazines for reference, catalogues, past work and also props for shoots and accessories. Buy folders or files in the same colour, it looks less messy.
A Bisley small set of drawers is also essential, for all the little bits – business cards, scissors, Sellotape, spare pens, glue, blu-tak. I also have a filing cabinet with all of my personal paperwork in it, then I know exactly where it is. Stuff like mortgage and council tax documents, insurance, utility bills etc. A notice board is nice, but to be honest mine just has family pictures on it. See Alison's Instagram.
For some of us, an at-home office can quickly become a place to put non-work related items if we’re not careful. Your designated workspace should be for business and writing projects only. Laundry baskets, storage containers and your kid’s school assignments don’t belong in your office. Before you start designing your workspace, clear out anything that doesn’t have a home in your office and doesn’t help you achieve your professional goals.
Several studies have attempted to determine which colours and visual motifs help people feel more creative and focused when looking at them. A 2009 University of British Columbia study found that blue is the best colour for creative working environments, as it promotes communication and opens the mind to new ideas. A 2012 University of Munich study also revealed that the colour green can enhance creative performance. Regardless of which colours or types of art you choose to have in your workplace, make sure that by being surrounded by these items, you feel happy, alert and visually stimulated.