With everything that has happened over the past few weeks since the pandemic lockdown began, a significant number of people are now working from home, many for the first time. There wasn’t much of an opportunity to prepare for an enforced relocation situation and what with the children now being at home as well, successfully navigating the practicalities of a very different working environment has presented its own challenges but challenges we’ve had to embrace.
But within this push coming to shove, necessity being the mother of invention situation, many home workers will have discovered that there are benefits to this newly imposed remote working edict. Avoiding the torturous daily commute, finding workable solutions to complicated and expensive childcare arrangements, freedom from spending hours in offices not fit for purpose and sharing a work space with people you’d rather not share anything with are just a few of the positives. And once life returns to normal, working remotely is going to remain a popular choice; home will not just be where the heart is, it will be where the office is too. So if you are considering making this very 21st century mode of working a permanent option, now is the time to think about how you can leave the kitchen table behind and successfully create an office area on a permanent or flexible basis within your own four walls.
Whether you decide to repurpose the guest room or use an alcove in your hallway, once you have found a location for your home office (and not before you have taken the tech side of things into consideration checking your wi-fi connection works sufficiently well) the most important item you need to install is the right desk. Unlike the pre-Internet age, vast surface areas for landline phones, files and desktop computers aren’t necessary as more often than not you’ll be using a laptop, smartphone or a tablet and for sustainability’s sake, be running a paperless office. For smaller office areas, the New Perspective Concrete Console Table (£799) shown above is an ideal solution: its sleek, full of urban cool and importantly, highly functional and narrower than a traditional desk. And when your home office evolves, this piece of furniture can happily return to its original function whilst continuing to look stylish wherever its placed.
There are of course situations where physical storage is a mandatory requirement for your business and this is where the Dea Cabinet (£1099) comes into its own. It’s contemporary, neat and very good-looking, providing space for files, folders, stationery and more. The interesting surface texture of the doors together with their rounded-square shape, give the sideboard an organic feel; ‘natural luxury’ is a big interior design trend for 2020. And with Instagram and Facebook lives and meetings via Skype or Zoom growing in popularity, the background scenery in the home office should reflect your business in a positive and professional way rather than be a window into the world of your children’s toy box so in this way, the New Perspective Concrete Console Table and Dea Cabinet make a great supporting cast.
Working from home has some rather unique advantages too; you can wear casual, comfortable clothes and your working area can be any style or colour you like: grey signifies stability, security, authority and strength of character whilst blue is a reflection of calm, confidence, sincerity and integrity. As you are the home office boss you can even choose what design appears on that all important spine-supporting cushion. The Geo Raphaelite (£48) cushion above has classical references and is an ode to elegance but look closer, there’s also has a cheeky side to its design. The naked woman’s modesty is subtly covered by grey stripes which in themselves form a traditional monochrome landscape print – a great design with a sense of humour.
And talking about being cheeky with a sense of humour, how about a suitably saucy mug for your refreshments during the day? The one shown below wears a face based on Jeff Koons’ muse Illona Staller and forms part of a collection of mugs from the Moody Muse Collection by Lauren Dickinson Clarke. Called The Provocateur (£25), when you own this seductive little number you’ll be glad you work at home because a fine bone china mug with luxurious gold trim like this could prove too much of a temptation for co-workers who might like the idea of having her company during their working day too.
Once you have your office furniture and equipment sorted, you need to establish a positive working routine because routine is key to organisation. Within your daily timetable, take regular breaks. Apart from having a lunch break and keeping hydrated throughout the day, go for a walk around the garden or have a ten-minute wander through the pages of a great book like ‘The Greatest Rooms of the Century’ from Phaidon Press; the tactile velvet cover comes in a variety of colours (£43.22 + p&p www.agreatread.co.uk). Or if you are an art lover like me and intrigued by the work of Aubrey Beardsley, leave the business world behind for an hour with one of the excellent ‘Sex & Sensibility’ The Allure of Art Nouveau programmes from the television trilogy or the highly watchable ‘Scandal & Beauty’, both currently available on BBC’s iPlayer: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer
And after your work is done, as dropping into the pub on the way home isn’t currently an option, how about visiting a new venue where its all about good news? The Country & Townhouse online magazine ‘What’s On’ features include some great reads covering anything from fitness studios offering online classes to must-read books, food delivery options and podcasts. There is also the ‘Good News You Need Right Now’ daily post, so pop a link in your RSS feed or Google Email Alerts and receive an email that always leaves you feeling positive: www.countryandtownhouse.co.uk
So good people, look after yourselves and I hope you’re inspired to create a home office that is not only fantastically functional but somewhere that is also a rather fabulous place to spend time in too.
Chris Billinghurst | April 2020