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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

Home-office improvements to boost productivity

How to implement home office improvements to boost productivity through the winter months

neutral coloured walls in home office with wall panelling and marble desk and dramatic chandelier
Image credit: Caffe Latte

You know I love a bit of home improvement (& if you are new here, head up to the menu bar and have a nose through some of the DIY projects, upcycling tutorials, home maintenance and IKEA hacks to get inspired!), so the idea of some home-office improvements to boost productivity really piqued my interest when I read about it.

Hands up if your working arrangements and location look different from pre-pandemic times. For many, working from home is a daily reality now and home offices are getting a whole lot more action than before the pandemic. For some of those (myself included), a home office is a (pipe) dream - meaning pockets, tables, corners and even cupboards in homes have to be truly multi-functional, changing between home and home office at regular intervals throughout the week. The image above from Caffe Latte, is pretty much my dream home-office, one for the vision board! I’m writing this from the local garden centre cafe while I wait for my car to be serviced, which a) makes a pleasant change from the kitchen table and b)kind of proves my point about how work life has changed.

Making the best of a not-ideal workspace can be challenging at the best of times, but through the winter months, it can be particularly difficult, resulting in a drop in productivity. Understanding this problem only too well, I was intrigued when some sterling advice on home-office improvement to boost productivity dropped into my inbox. I thought I’d share these top tips to help fellow work-from-homers survive the gloomy winter months.

The research on home-office improvements to boost productivity

Testament to the scale of this issue, Savoy Stewart teamed up with experts at Brainworks Neurotherapy and Hillary’s, who collectively researched and collected data on the subject before coming up with the following tips and advice for home-office improvements to boost productivity through the winter months.

1. Connection through colour

white home office with bright yellow internal door, lamp  and chair
Image credit: Furniture and Choice

Regular readers will know that I believe in the power of colour psychology and have experienced the negative effects of choosing the wrong colours in my own home. Back at the start of the year, I talked about how I planned to embrace minimalism in 2023 and as well as the big declutter, changing the colour palettes and layout of my home was a key objective to improve productivity, so I’m not surprised at all about the first piece of advice from Yvonne Keal, on behalf of Hillary’s home store: “Light and airy pastel shades such as pinks, dusty yellow, lilacs and mint greens are great colours to incorporate into your office in winter as they promote calmness and can help release any built-up tension in your work routine which still allows creative juices to flow,” she says.

Expanding on this idea further, Yvonne suggests, “Allow the colour to influence your mood and mindset in a more positive way, whether you paint a whole area or add a pop of colour to your desk, bright colours are proven to activate serotonin levels inside the brain making you feel more energised.”

Adding pops of colour (as seen in the striking image above from Furniture and Choice) complements the recent dopamine decor trend and is known as a ‘disruptor colour’ in interior design terms. You can use this idea even if you don’t have a dedicated home office, as pops of colour could come from picture frames, candles, vases or cushions if you are working from your kitchen or living room.

2. Connect with nature by adding real plants

plants on rustic wooden shelf above a home office desk with a laptop placed on it
Image credit: Leaf Envy

I’m a terrible plant Mum and kill almost every plant I get my hands on (usually through lack of water as for some reason, I find it impossible to keep on top if this basic task!), so this next point is not good news for me. Readers good at nurturing plants will be happy to hear that “Adding greenery such as plants to an office can hold huge benefits for work life. With reports suggesting that plants are capable of reducing stress and increasing productivity levels, they can also clean the air within an office and help filter out allergens.” The plants in the image above are from Leaf Envy.

3. Personalise your workspace

Two-tone pastel pen pot
Image credit: Martha Brook

The next of our home-office improvements to boost productivity is to personalise your workspace as an increased emotional connection with your working environment is thought to help. This is another idea that I can get behind as I spend a lot of time writing about building an emotional connection with your home through DIY projects and creative home styling.

It makes sense that you will feel more motivated and engaged if the space you work in is tailored to your needs.

Top tips for personalising your workspace

- add personal photos to your desk (or desktop screensaver)

- burn your favourite scented candles

- style with a vase of your favourite blooms (foraging is a great way to do this on a budget)

- add cool stationary items like the beautiful two-tone pen pot pictured from Martha Brook

4. Express yourself with artwork

Overlooking artwork is a bad idea as it's a great opportunity to express your personality and complement your interior style. I'm a big believer in creating your own art if you are on a tight budget and don't want to spend a fortune but also don't want generic off-the-shelf prints and canvases that don't hold any special meaning or connection for you. In my online courses, I look at ways to create art for your home, so check them out if this is of interest.

This point rings true whether you're working in a dedicated home office space or another multi-functional space within your home, as regardless of where the walls are located they (and you) will benefit from dressing them with consideration. Consider super-cool neon artwork like that shown above from Lime Lace

5. Assess your home-office layout

Dark blue home office with built-in storage and grey chair
Image credit: Sharps

As with all rooms in your home, it pays to spend time configuring the optimum layout for your needs. If you are squashed, or facing the wrong direction, or suffering with poor lighting, it figures that you won't feel creative or be productive, so take a step back and think practically about any improvements you can make. Use the experts for inspiration like this beautiful example from Sharps.

James Roy, on behalf of Brainworks Neurotherapy, comments: “Exposure to natural light is essential for supporting your hormonal system. This is because the amount of light that enters your eyes during these times directly influences the production and regulation of hormones in your body, such as serotonin, melatonin and cortisol, which play a critical role in mood and sleep patterns. This effectiveness extends even to areas with cloudy weather, as the light can penetrate through clouds.” So, it makes sense to position yourself as close to some natural light if at all possible. Consider opting for a lamp to counteract SAD if you really don't have much natural light as they have been proven to help.

6. Remove potential distractions

minimalist marble desk in masculine black office set-up
Image credit: Homary

As I mentioned earlier, I've been really focused on decluttering this year because I've noticed how being surrounded by mess and clutter has a negative effect on my concentration, mood and mindset.

The problem is, I'm a really untidy person so this is proving to be a challenge, but I'm determined to improve and will keep working at it! The Homary desk pictured is giving me all the motivation!

Senior Product Manager Yvonne Keal at Hillary’s Home Store, agrees that decluttering is a vital step towards improving productivity and creativity in your workspace: “A cluttered physical space equals a cluttered mental space, so remove any unnecessary items from your office to maintain concentration. Dim lighting can also make you feel tired, unfocused and increase chances of headaches, therefore placing your desk perpendicular to a window is best for the most natural light.”

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