With the majority of workers in the UK continuing to work from home, the home office has moved from a luxury to a necessity.
The right home working environment is crucial for productivity, but also to provide the right headspace and to help ensure a separation between our home and working lives.
It’s only natural to experience feelings of cabin fever when faced with the same home and working environment every day, however, there are elements of Scandi design and lifestyle trends such as fika, that can ensure a more balanced experience for those working from home.
Here, lifestyle expert at Contura (opens in new tab), Catharina Björkman, has provided expert tips and advice on how to achieve Scandinavian calm while working from home.
HOW TO ACHIEVE SCANDINAVIAN STILLNESS AT HOME
'As working from home becomes the new normal for many of us, it’s important to create the right office environment to ensure a positive impact on your wellbeing,' says Catharina. 'The space should enhance your workability and aid productivity. There are several ways to add inexpensive Scandinavian touches to your work space to help keep you motivated and inspired.
'Keep in mind that working from home is likely to extend for many months yet, so it’s worth changing up your home office space if you’re able, to ensure it continues to work well for you. Adding personal touches, greenery, and using a soothing colour scheme can all help to ensure a calming work environment, allowing us to work to the best of our ability.
'In Sweden, lagom is a part of everyday life and is all about finding balance – something that can be applied to working from home. It’s important to take regular breaks, communicate with your team and managers often, and understand that we shouldn’t expect too much of ourselves. We are in extraordinary circumstances right now and can only do our best when working outside of our usual office set-up.'
1. THE RIGHT SPACE
Consider whether your current workspace is working for you and look at alternative options if you’re finding it hard to concentrate or keep getting distracted. In lieu of a dedicated room, an alcove, corner, bay window, nook, or under the stairs space can work well. If space is lacking in the main living areas, a corner of a bedroom can also work well if carefully planned. Consider bespoke, built-in furniture, clever storage solutions and slimline furniture to maximise every inch of space. An ideal solution could also be a cupboard or ‘pull out’ workstation, which don’t encroach on living space and can be opened and closed away as required. Being close to nature has been shown to increase productivity and instil a sense of calm, so if possible, consider working in the summer house or even the garden shed if you are able to make them habitable and provided WI-FI and electricity can be extended.
2. USE NEUTRAL COLOURS
Scandi design uses neutral colours, which enhance feelings of calm and create a zen-like environment. Choose soothing colours such as cream, beige, brown, white, blue, grey and green; sticking to the most natural tones and hues. Avoid using colours like red, purple and orange, but if you like bright colours add them as accents through accessories such as your chair cushion or pen pot. Inspirational art work is also a great way to add a pop of colour and personality to a workspace.
3. CREATE AN OFFICE 'ZONE'
Consider styling the home office slightly differently to the other rooms, as this will help to mentally keep it a separate space from the rest of the house and as such, will likely help you concentrate better. You can create a dedicated ‘zone’ for your home office by using Scandi design principles of minimalist and fuss-free interiors. Not only will this ensure an orderly, calm area, but less fuss also means you’ll be more able to focus.
Keep the space uncluttered, use a wireless keyboard and mouse to avoid too many wires on the desk, keep items on the surface to a minimum, and tidy up at the end of each working day, storing paperwork and stationary away wherever possible by using stylish boxes or files. If your workspace is appealing to look at, you’ll feel more compelled to be in it, work from it, and likely be far more productive in the process.
4. GO FOR GREENERY
Plants can add a breath of fresh air to a space and boost air quality. They can also provide added interest and texture – ideal if your workspace is looking tired or lacklustre. You’ll be amazed at how quickly plants can improve the overall look and feel of a space. Easy-care varieties include spider plants, cacti, yucca, succulents, ivy or ferns, and most are available in large supermarkets. For your desk, add small pot plants and ensure they have enough sunshine and regular watering in order to flourish.
5. TAKE FIKA BREAKS
Fika is a Swedish tradition and takes place each day in most work places. Around 11am, teams stop working to enjoy a hot drink and sweet treat, taking around 15-30 minutes before returning to work. Regardless of where you’re working it’s crucial to take regular breaks away from the screen. If you and a partner are both working, why not schedule in a coffee break mid-morning, or factor in a non-work related catch up with colleagues every week? This will give you a chance to catch up and socialise, which is crucial for wellbeing and good mental health.
6. GET OUTDOORS ONCE A DAY
Everyone should get outdoors at least once a day. Even if you can only spare 15 minutes, you will soon feel the benefit. Head into the garden, visit a local park or simply take a walk around the block. Make the most of time outdoors with a cycle, run or jog, yoga or Pilates class, or an aerobic workout.
You can also bring the outdoors in to your work space to make you feel closer to nature. If possible, position your laptop and desk with a view to the outdoors; greenery and trees are the preferred outlooks, but any view is better than a blank wall. Open windows for fresh air and surround yourself with natural materials (wood, stone, rattan and wicker) for an instant connection to the natural world.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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