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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

  • Claire Douglas

Wellness ideas for your home office: Boost productivity

Updated: Apr 30

How to implement wellness ideas for your home office to boost productivity and wellbeing

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

As someone who works from home, I know only too well how challenging it can be to balance productivity and wellness. Unless you are very fortunate and have a large home office that is kitted out to facilitate wellness whilst working (I don't!), then there are compromises to be made. In this post, I'm going to share my first-hand experience of homeworking along with some expert advice from Daniel Ufland, co-founder of Flitch, who will explain the effective strategies that enhance productivity, comfort, and wellness in your home office.

Let's explore some unique wellness ideas tailored for the home office using a blend of creativity, practicality, and innovation.

Making the best of a less-than-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.

How to improve home-office wellness and productivity

You'll love these wellness ideas for your home office.

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 wellness idea for your home office 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 wellness ideas for your home office 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

When it comes to wellness ideas for your home office, 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 by decluttering

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.”

  • Effective Storage Solutions: Use drawers, filing cabinets, and desktop organisers to keep necessary items within reach but out of sight. Daniel says, 'Having a place for everything minimises distractions and streamlines your workflow.'

  • Digital Organization: Keep digital clutter at bay by regularly organising files, deleting unnecessary emails, and clearing your desktop.

7. Designate a Dedicated Workspace

home office with pink walls and green chair

Establishing a designated area for work within your home can help create boundaries between professional and personal life. Whether it's a spare room, a corner of the living room, or even the kitchen table, having a dedicated workspace can enhance focus and productivity while minimizing distractions from household chores or personal life. You can read my tutorial about how I turned some IKEA BILLY Built-ins into an upcycled home office if you are looking for DIY inspiration.

Creating a dedicated and inspiring home office is more than just setting up a desk and a chair; it's about constructing an environment that promotes focus, efficiency, and your overall well-being. ‘The right home office setup not only enhances productivity but also helps in maintaining a healthy work-life balance by clearly delineating work hours and personal time,’ Daniel explains.

8. Prioritize Ergonomics

an ergonomic office chair

Invest in ergonomic office furniture such as an ergonomic chair or a balance board to support proper posture and reduce the risk of strain or injury. Small changes like using posture correctors or incorporating essential oils for relaxation can have a significant impact on physical comfort and mental well-being throughout the workday.

  • Chair and Desk: Invest in an adjustable ergonomic chair that supports the natural curve of your spine. Ensure that your desk height allows your arms to rest comfortably at a 90-degree angle to avoid shoulder strain. Daniel advises, 'Adjust your chair and desk to promote a posture that prevents slouching and encourages sitting upright.'

  • Monitor Height: Position your monitor so the top of the screen is at eye level to avoid neck strain. 'Using a monitor stand or adjustable arm can help maintain proper neck posture and prevent fatigue,' Daniel adds.

9. Eat healthily

vitamins surrounded by fruit and veg

Incorporate healthy snacks and meals into your daily routine to fuel your body and mind. Set aside time for a proper lunch break away from your desk to enjoy a nutritious meal and recharge. Consider joining employee wellness programs that offer resources and support for healthy eating habits and weight loss goals. Healthy food will nourish your body rather than sugary, convenient snacks and caffeine, which will negatively affect your concentration levels and leave you craving more. 

10. Focus on a Work-Life Balance

Establish a daily schedule that allows for regular breaks and boundaries between work and personal time. Practice stress management techniques such as mindfulness or participate in wellness initiatives like stress management workshops (all the better if these can be in-person events rather than more screen time!) to support your mental health and well-being.

11. Implement good lighting

office lighting done well with layers

As we've seen in some of my posts that are dedicated to lighting (eg bathroom mirror lighting guide, best kitchen lighting for low ceilings or decor hacks to up your home lighting game) you need to build a lighting scheme as you would a colour scheme with layers and varying lights for varying roles.

"Combine general, task, and accent lighting to create a well-lit workspace. General lighting provides overall illumination, task lighting focuses on your work area, and accent lighting adds aesthetic appeal."

Locating your desk near a window to maximise your exposure to natural light during the day is a good idea if possible. 'Utilise blinds or curtains to control glare and reduce eye strain,' suggests Daniel.

12. Foster Connection and Engagement

Combat social isolation by leveraging technology to stay connected with colleagues and team members if you aren't self employed. Utilize social media platforms or virtual team-building activities to maintain a sense of community and camaraderie among remote workers. Alternatively (& arguably more enjoyably) attend networking or in person-training events which provide an opportunity to socialise with people in real life.

13. Embrace Flexibility and Adaptability

Understanding that working for yourself can change a lot, being flexible and adaptable is really important. To handle the ups and downs of freelancing, try using flexible ways of managing your work, like apps such as Trello or Asana, to keep track of tasks and deadlines, and adjust easily to new needs.

By prioritizing wellness in our home office environments, we can create a space that supports not only our professional endeavours but also our personal lives.

14. Manage sound levels

Unwanted noise can be a stressor, so when working in a home environment, it pays to invest in some good noise-cancelling headphones. Noise-cancelling headphones can be invaluable for high-concentration tasks. 'They help create a personal auditory space where you can focus without external interruptions,' explains Daniel. 

Integrating these wellness practices is not just a great idea but a necessity for nurturing both our professional endeavors and our home life. By embracing a holistic approach to wellness, incorporating small changes into our daily routines, and fostering healthy habits for the long term, we can optimize employee health and well-being. From ergonomic office chairs to stress management workshops, each element contributes to creating a work environment that prioritizes physical wellness, mental health, and overall vitality. 

Where next?

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