Probably one of my best jobs ever…I recently was invited to design my ultimate home office workspace, inside the London Eye! What a scoop, to get inside this London landmark and create a room set in my signature colourful style. I’m all up for design challenges but this was a first. Designing a room inside a glass curved pod, that rotates 360 degrees, well the challenge was unprecedented.
But first up, on with the brief. This was a great opportunity for me to really analyse what I need from my office design and how the design really affects my productivity, creativity and wellbeing. I have made it my mission to look deeply into how our interior spaces make us feel and arguably since we spend so much of our time at work, our workspaces surely demand the most thought and attention. The project was commissioned by online platform Fiverr. Their mission is to change how the world works together by connecting businesses of all sizes with freelancers offering digital services including graphic design, digital marketing, programming, video and animation. I myself have been freelance for fifteen years and have in that time either worked from a home office or a rented studio space. I’m passionate about being freelance. It’s offered me so many opportunities and linked me with loads of interesting and creative people. I was super chuffed to be working for a brand that cherishes and builds on these creative connections.Fiverr have invested in some research that shows I’m not alone as data reveals 67% of Brits are thinking about quitting their jobs to go freelance. It’s fascinating to reveal that work habits are changing rapidly – as the data also shows nearly half of full-time workers (43%) have a side-hustle to help make extra income on top of their main job. And 77% of those asked prefer to work away from the office given the chance. The data also reveals that a new generation of millennial workers are shunning the traditional 9-5 with 8 out of 10 millennials (25-34 year olds) saying they prefer not to work in the office.
So with this research in mind, it couldn’t be a better time to discover what you can do to make your workspace the best place to be. My intentions when designing my workspace was that it reflected my personal style and my brand (hence, full on colour!). It was also a space where I could happily work alone or with colleagues and host meetings.
Nobody feels creative when they’re sitting in the dark! Getting as much natural light as you can is crucial to feeling like you’re wide awake and ready to take on the day’s challenges. It boosts vitamin D production in your body – and helps your body’s natural rhythm keep in-sync, which is especially important for those of us who spend a lot of time flexi working around the clock. I went so far as putting large glazed doors onto the garden to get this effect in my own home office. However, the London Eye dishes up the daylight in spades! Just need your shades.
If you can, try to place your work desk near a window. Of course, not everybody will be able to get the gorgeous London skyline yawning out into the distance from the spot they sit in to answer their emails. But even if it’s just a garden or a window box – a view that stretches out further than three feet in front of your face will give you something to look at and feel inspired by when you’re trying to hit that creative peak. Most of us now spend the vast majority of our working days staring at a screen but this short-range vision isn’t conducive to creative thinking.
As it’s important to have a break from the constant screen time, a great way to do that is to fill your workspace walls with pictures, visual ideas, mood boards, even artwork. Placing something into your environment that has real physical presence can make a real difference to your day, to your mood and your productivity. I work in a visual industry, so for me, images are an essential jumping off point too not only keep me inspired but also focused. You can do a vision board for any area of your work or life. Take a project and use images to represent your goals as we respond to pictures more powerfully than the written word. I have my colourful Betsy Benn yearly wall planner up where I can see it as it helps me to visualise what I have coming up even though all my appointments are managed on my digital calendar. Anything that stops me being too much in my ‘head’ helps me enormously.
Biophilia is the scientific name for the love and connection we humans have for the natural world and is being implemented in the way we design our workspaces as it’s scientifically proven to reduce stress and enhance productivity. You can easily add the feel-good vibes by adding living plants and flowers to your desk and choose natural materials like wood and stone to furnish your space. Plants also improve the oxygen levels – because they breathe in the opposite way to us – Carbon Dioxide goes in, and Oxygen comes out. That means more fresh oxygen to power your creative mind when you’re in the zone. I have a window full of plants in my home office but for this project, I created the wow with floral installations created by Kate Langdale, with leaves spray painted in my signature colours. The floral cloud Kate suspended over the desk area is an incredible focal point in the pod and it fulfils my mission that workspaces should be just as inspiring and stylish as any other room in your home.
It’s important to recognise that if you’re a home worker or freelancer, you’ll be spending a pretty large proportion of your day in your workspace. It’s vitally important that you invest some time, and even money, into making it as interesting and useful as it can possibly be. That means getting yourself a comfy chair, organising your space so you have plenty of storage to keep the clutter out of sight, and having an inspiring view and/or a visualisation wall. I invest in colourful stationery, objects, and accessories to furnish my office. Even my notebooks that I use daily are in a design that makes me feel happy and energised.
When I’m working at home I’ll often go from the desk to the sofa, to the kitchen table, and back again all in search of a creative spark or feeling energised. Try to build as much opportunity for movement into your workspace, so that you’ll have the opportunity to freshen up your perspective when you’re hard at work. Again movement has been proven to enhance our wellbeing, stress levels and improve our productivity. If all else fails my most useful work hack is to take my shoes and socks off and take a short walk on the grass. Then I come back to my desk and nail it!
Betsy Benn, betsybenn.com
Floor Story, floorstory.co.uk
Kate Langdale, instagram.com/katelangdaleflorist
Little Greene, littlegreene.com
Oliver Bonas, oliverbonas.com
This blog post comes to you as part of a paid partnership with Fiverr.