Having worked from home since I started my business in 2013, I consider myself a bit of an old hand at remote working.
Like many others who start their own business a kitchen table, spare room, corner of a room, garage or some other ‘make do’ space is designated and sequestered. For me it was a small bedroom that had variously been a nursery (my son is now 20), a craft space, spare room and dumping ground (room of doom as we called it).
Over the past seven years, my space has seen numerous iterations as I’ve learned what works well for me both functionally and emotionally.
To begin with, I designed my space purely with function in mind but over time realized that how it made me feel was just as important as how it functioned. Creating a space where you can be both productive but also where it can inspire creativity is important whatever our job title.
With so many of us working from home I thought I’d share some of my own lessons, insights, and learnings in the hope it makes your home workspace a delightful place to be both productive and creative.
1. Create a place to ponder
Having a place separate from your desk and screen in which to retreat and think is a must. In my case, I’ve created a cozy corner with a chair & flip chart for jotting thoughts and ideas down. We rarely have our best ideas in front of a screen or at our desks so simply finding your thinking space allows our brains to start its creative work.
2. Living things
Plants are not only good for air quality, but it also has an overall calming effect. Adding plants to your workspace is proven to reduce stress and boost productivity: One study found bringing plants into the workplace boosted overall productivity by 15%, while an analysis of 10 different studies showed that greenery consistently had a positive impact on mood.
Research shows that scents influence our mood, cognition, creativity, and behaviours.
Rachel S. Herz, an assistant professor of psychology at Brown University, shared in Scientific American “People in a positive mood exhibit higher levels of creativity than individuals in a bad mood. Odors can also produce the same effects. When people were exposed to an odor they liked, creative problem-solving was better than it was when they were exposed to an unpleasant odor,
I always have scented reed diffusers on my desk and often light a scented candle if I have a particularly taxing piece of work to focus on.
4. Multiple workspaces
One size does not fit all! Establish a few alternative spaces that work for different types of tasks you might be doing. Sometimes I go to the nearby park, take a walk with my headphones in and record my thinking on the topic I’m working on. I use an app called Otter which transcribes my thoughts into words. Being outside is important; studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology show that being outdoors makes people feel more energetic, less stressed, and more alive.
5. Regularly curate your space.
I am constantly (every 6 weeks or so) changing my workspace around. I will clear everything off my desk and refresh what is in my line of sight. For me, that constant change of visual stimulus is important, and I enjoy the process of intentionally curating my workspace. For example, next month I will be running several virtual training sessions with the same group over the course of one week. It gives me a chance to now plan and create what will work best for them and me in terms of lighting, energy, and fun.
What I’ve shared here may not work for everyone but the important thing is to intentionally create the space that makes you not only work smarter but creates the right environment for productive and creative work to happen.