17 abr. 2020

Working from Home: Space Planing

For many of us it has been a month already since Covid 19 has afected our lives in a way we could not imagine it before. In some countries people are expending 24h 7 days a week at home. And most of us living in flats where space is an issue (according to the RIBA the average one bedroom flat is 46sqm).

The challenge is how to addapt the space and make it flexible so it could be our work environemnt as well as our rest/leissure space? The aim of this post, and more to follow, is to tranform your house into a friendly workplace that is able to coexist within your home set up.


But let´s start from the begining and working form home needs some SPACE PLANING.

The first issue that we all have is the lack of space and the need to have a dedicated area for the home office. This is an issue when we do not have a spare room that we can use as an studio.

My first advice picking a space that is as far as possible from the bedroom. To be able to incorporate a routine we need to diferenciate these two spaces. We want to recreate the feeling of comuting, going to the office even if it is just walking 5 metres. Some of you may have jobs which, have to take a lot of calls and if you are two in the house that might make that difficult. Then use the bedroom as a conference room, but always come back to your desk space.

Where can this desk space be? Most of the popullation concentrated in big cyties lives in 1 and 2 bedroom flats. This leaves with only two options of space to use as a work station: the living room or the kitchen.

Let´s study the different possibilites within these two spaces, of course each case is unique and it is impossible for me to give a general rule that applies to all but by giving you general advice you will be able to decide, find that space or help you to decide what you need to set up your place to work at home.

If you have to work in the living room:
- Do not work from the sofa or lounge chair. No sitting up right is not only bad for your posture but it shortens the breathing patterns which will make you feel more tired. So please avoid the launge area from your living room. May be use it to take calls or to check emails while having a cup of coffee.
-Do you have a dining table? This would be the ideal place for you to sit. It has the ideal height and you would be able to sit correctly with good ergonomics to avoid future back problems. This is not a luxury that we all can afford in terms of space, so may be is the time to re think spatially your living room and order a desk.
-We are runing out of options. If you have ever practiced yoga or pilates, you will notice that the more you imporve your practice the more confourtable you feel in your squat position. Many curtures and tribes do not use chairs. Porbably this going to the extreme but you could give it a go. It is worth having a read at this post https://ekaminhale.com/blogs/news/standing-desk-vs-floor-sitting , which includes many inspirational quotes including one from the movie World War Z, quite ironic that the blog entry is dated in 2015 and 5 years later is so relevant.

If you have to work in the kitchen:
- Standing sometimes helps with concentration. Have you thought about working in the kitchen counter? In my previous workplace we had a hot desking approach and wvery morning you could sit anywhere. I normally picked a standing desk. I suffered from neck pain, back pain and more recently from knee pain due to excersicing and this really helped with my recovery. Also it is very good for multitasking, as you can cook at the same time you are working.


Finally we need to have the feeling that we are leaving the office, we have to be able to disconect and re set our minds thinking we are in off from work and in leissure mode eventhough we are in the same space. How can we do this if we work in the areas of our home where we do the cooking or watch tv, the two main activities during the lockdown. The answer is put your work things away. Put them inside a box, inside a drawer. If it is a pain for you to set things up again in the morning pile some books on top of the laptop, make it inaacessible. The key is to be able to to disconnect and to not have eassy access to your work.


What if your laptop ois your way of entertainment? Then change the set up, move from your work space and go and lay in the couch with your computer but do not watch your favourite series sitting as if you were working. It is important to set the boundaries and somehow tell the brain that work is over.

Finally when we talk about desingning spaces is not only how we phisically approach to them. Our perception of the space can be conected to other senses like sound and vision. When is the time to leave the office and to close down, why don´t you dim down the lights? Why not lighing up some candles. Set the the correct mood for you to relax and switch off. May be you change the music. Create a playlist that helps you to stop thinking about work, may be is chill music or may be is the opposite and it is your time to transform the living room into a gym blasting the latest pop hits on your Sonos.


In the next entry I will list some of the links worth having a look is you are thinking of buying a new desk and new work setting that will work with the style of your home without standing out too much.

#workfromhome

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