Make Working From Home Work for You
Lifestyle expert at Contura shares guide to WFH Scandi-Style.
Nearly twelve months on from the first UK lockdown, many Brits are still struggling to combine their home and work life. Considering that working from home has always been viewed as a luxury for the lucky few, this struggle has undoubtedly come as something of a shock. And with wfh set to continue for the foreseeable future, what is the secret to working from home successfully?
Catharina Björkman, Scandi lifestyle expert at Swedish woodburning stove brand, Contura, says “We’ve all struggled to adapt to the new normal and it’s important to remember that we’re not alone in this.
“This past year we’ve spent more time than ever before at home, facing daily battles for space at the kitchen table, retreating to the garden shed or the car for privacy and quiet during work calls, and working out how we can possibly fit walking the dog into a packed daily schedule that, sans commute, should – in theory – allow for more down-time.
“It’s something of a comfort to know that many are facing the same daily battles when it comes to working from home. However, with a few practical hacks and the understanding that flexibility is key, it really is possible to work successfully from any space.”
Read on for Catharina’s guide to making working from home, work for you…
Unless you’re lucky enough to have your own home-office and kids who can be trusted to get on with their home schooling without supervision or constant encouragement, you’re likely crowded around the kitchen table, jostling for space with the rest of the household – all of whom have their own preferences and priorities when it comes to how they enjoy running their day, working or – in the case of our locked down children – avoiding work.
The key thing is to be flexible and not be too hard on yourself or those around you. We’re all living and working through unprecedented times and it’s easy to forget that you’re not only working from home, but working from home whilst home-schooling kids, fitting in family mealtimes, conscious you all need to make time for some daily exercise, and trying to get along with the same people 24/7 during a global pandemic.
It can be helpful to start each day by making a list of non-negotiable tasks that have to be completed that day. How you complete them doesn’t matter, so get creative – morning emails in bed whilst you enjoy a cup of coffee? Go for it. A team brainstorm whilst you walk the dog? Absolutely fine! A client call while you finish the washing up? Why not?
And if nobody manages to get dressed, who cares? Try to pick your battles and go easy on yourself.
Schedule in what’s important
Whilst flexibility is important, there are a few non-negotiables that we should all make time for every day.
A daily walk will not only improve cardiovascular fitness but will allow you to soak up the sunshine vitamin – vitamin D – which is crucial for strengthening bones and regulating the immune system. If you’re otherwise sitting indoors all day, a walk in the fresh outdoor air will also help to improve brain function, concentration levels and reduce stress levels.
Regular screen-breaks will help increase your focus and productivity as well as release tension across your back, neck, shoulders and arms. A few minutes at a time is all that’s needed – whether you use your break to enjoy a quick stretch, wrangle the kids, or indulge in a 3-minute meditation is up to you.
And don’t forget to fika. Fika is the Scandi version of the office tea break and is often translated as a coffee and cake break. In reality, it’s much more than that; it’s a chance to take 15 minutes to switch off from work and catch up with colleagues. If you can’t remember the last time you chatted with your colleagues about anything non-work related, fika is long overdue.
Set a time with one or two colleagues and just enjoy the opportunity to catch up about what you’re all reading, watching on TV or share anecdotes about how your housemates, other half or kids have made you laugh.
Fika isn’t purely for chatting to work colleagues though; catch up with a friend or loved one, or just enjoy some quiet time away from your computer screen and emails.
And treat yourself – instant coffee and whatever you find at the bottom of the biscuit tin just won’t do. Enjoy a cup of good quality coffee and a well-deserved fresh cake or pastry.
Prepare the essentials
Laptop, mobile phone, charger, notepad, pen and a water bottle are essentials that you will need to hand every day but that often go walkabouts when you most need them.
If you’re sharing your ‘home office’ with others it can be easy for essential items to be misplaced so it’s worth keeping everything you need in a box or bag and re-tracing your steps at the end of the day. This will ensure you have everything you need ready for when you next need it. Keeping your work essentials together also means they can easily be tidied away come the weekend and won’t clutter up your home or distract you from enjoying your well-earned leisure time.
If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated workspace or desk, it’s likely that your housemates or family members know you have everything you – and they – could possibly need, so make it clear that anything that’s borrowed needs to be returned by the end of the day or replaced.
Ensure spaces are light and bright
Make the most of the lighter, brighter days by sitting near a window, even if only for a few hours a day. The importance of natural light for health and wellbeing is not to be underestimated. Numerous studies have shown that natural light in office spaces improves worker satisfaction and productivity, so why wouldn’t you want the same when working from home?
Exposure to natural light helps regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythms (sleep-wake schedules) so not only will you feel more awake during the day, but you’ll also sleep better come night-time.
A simple place to start is by making sure that windows aren’t blocked by furniture such as bookcases, wardrobes or even high-backed chairs or sofas. Make sure that your windows are regularly cleaned inside and out too, to ensure you’re maximizing the amount of daylight able to stream through into your home.
Plants are proven to increase productivity and general wellbeing, which means there’s never been a better time to feed your plant addiction. Invest in plants that serve both as a visual connection to nature and cheer up your space and also provide other health benefits.
Aloe Vera is not only easy to grow, but is also known for its air purifying qualities, removing common household toxins from the air. It also has antibacterial properties and its gel can be applied topically to help heal small cuts, grazes or burns.
Fragrant herbs such as basil, rosemary and mint are easy to grow and their natural scents will lift your workspace. They’ll also prove useful when cooking and baking. Fragrant plants such as lavender are known to lower heart rate and blood pressure and promote a more peaceful and restful night’s sleep – vital for a productive wfh routine.
Create a dedicated video call space
Allowing colleagues and clients into our homes, albeit virtually, has taken some getting used to. We’ve all joined video calls and had to spend the entire meeting sitting at an awkward angle so as not to reveal the pile of boxes, laundry, un-made bed, childhood memorabilia, or kids’ mess in the background. It’s advisable to make a dedicated, comfortable space for any video calls. Ideally this should be somewhere quiet, with an uncluttered background, and where you are less likely to be interrupted.
This could be an area of your or your child’s bedroom, a garden shed, or even a small alcove or corner of the living room or a landing. You just need enough space to be able to sit comfortably without worrying about personal items being on display or who or what might appear in the background.
Know when it’s time to switch off…
Taking care of yourself mentally and physically is key to ensuring you’re able to work to the best of your ability – overloading yourself and burning out is not.
The longer days and lighter evenings provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy a light walk or jog to physically break away from work mode. The combination of fresh air and physical exercise are natural stress busters and will also help you to enjoy a better night’s sleep come bedtime.
So, whether your cut off is 3pm, 5pm or 7pm, it’s time to down tools, switch off the computer and focus on down-time with your loved ones.
For more information, visit www.contura.eu
Notes to editors:
- Rooster PR will coordinate comment, interview and profile opportunities for Contura UK Country Manager, Phil Wood.
- The Contura PR team will also arrange visits to the nearest Contura Design Centre dealerships or the Contura showroom in Doncaster to see the product range.
For further press information, please contact:
Elsa Findlay | Jo Kendall | Julie Aguilera
T: +44 (0)20 3440 8930
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Contura is Europe’s leading manufacturer of wood burning stoves, offering an extensive range of classic and contemporary wood burners; from traditional insert stoves suitable for existing fireplaces, to freestanding statement models made with innovative materials such as soapstone.
Starting at £1,095, Contura stoves are premium yet affordable. Award winning, timeless Swedish design means the products complement or enhance any style of home, whilst also offering outstanding performance, maximum efficiency, practicality and ease of use.
Designed and assembled at the factory located in Markaryd, Sweden, and manufactured to the highest standards, Contura stoves are highly energy efficient, offering powerful convection, superior combustion technology and clean burning systems. Currently, 95% of Contura stoves are DEFRA Clean Air Act exempt and thus approved for use in Smoke Control Areas.
Contura stoves can be purchased through a network of 165 independent retailers nationwide.
Contura is part of the NIBE group, a Swedish manufacturing company producing world class solutions in sustainable energy across Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.
Contura is a founding member of the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) in the UK.
For more information please visit www.contura.eu