The pandemic year has awakened the world to the possibilities of multi-use space in the home. Previously considered as the place where we eat, sleep, and relax, most of us now spend more of our time at home working, learning online, and trying to keep ourselves healthy.
The demand for flexible and efficient space is more important than ever before.
Whether you live in a home in the suburbs or a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre, we have all likely been using rooms for more than one purpose. Dining room tables used as a make-shift office, and living areas converted into a cluttered workout space give off an aura of chaotic disarray. But with a few creative design elements and a strategic sense of organisation, the perfect multi-use space is easy to achieve.
Think about integrating the critical elements of work-life balance.
The size seems to be getting smaller but the basic design of homes and apartments haven’t changed much. What has changed are the things we need to accomplish with the available space.
Reimagining what a room could be used for, rather than being trapped by traditional functions is a good way to begin. Many formal dining rooms are rarely used outside of holidays or special occasions, so why waste the floor space for most of the year? Maybe you have a guest bedroom crowded with a queen-sized bed, and you only have overnight visitors a few times a year. It’s time to think outside the box - your imagination is the only limit to how a space can be used. Think about integrating the critical elements of work-life balance: health, family, work, and leisure, within a convenient space in your home.
The best way to begin designing a multi-use space is to take advantage of multi-functional furniture. With pieces of furniture that transform into something else or conveniently fold away, you won’t be limited to having either a bedroom or a workout room, or a dining room or an office. Focus on arranging the space for the activities that mean the most to you.
Unique solutions and tools that fit your lifestyle.
For the health conscious, folding and storable treadmills and bikes have been around for a while, and new fitness equipment options that mount on the wall and even connect online to live personal trainers are the next wave in exercising at home. High-tech fitness companies are changing the way we view the integration of a healthy lifestyle with home life. Now the movement towards work-from-home has presented opportunities for unique home office furniture as well.
A home should always still feel like home, so a good rule of thumb for any furniture that must act in double-duty, such as a sofa that converts to a bed, or a piece that folds and hides away, is that it must retain both style and functionality in either configuration. When it comes to creating an elegant and functional workspace for the new generation of flexible working professionals, nothing compares to the DropTop.™ from Pith & Stem.
DropTop.™ is the first artistic solution to provide a professional office-type space that is fully integrated with monitors to plug-and-play with any laptop, and then easily converts into an element of modern decor. When not in use, it offers space for family and leisure and adds an ingredient of style to any home. DropTop.™ has made having a home office possible for almost everyone regardless of how compact their home might be, and is the leader in innovative work-from-home solutions.
We live in unprecedented times. The world is changing in many ways and one of them is the way we work. Remote working is now part of our lives and all signs suggest that it is here to stay. There is a lot of debate around this subject with many corporates wanting employees back in the office and many employees resisting. But let's have look at one of the reasons non remote working does not work for many people.
Making Effective Use Of Space In Smaller Homes
The Tiny Home Movement was underway long before the pandemic drove working people out of their offices and into a makeshift workspace on the dining room table. Over the previous decade there was an architectural revolution occurring that was embraced by people from several generations, towards a more simple life in a smaller space. It was a revolt against the burdens of huge mortgages or rent and the emotional attachment to lots of STUFF.
Less Is More
In truth, the beginnings of this movement are probably rooted in the 1980’s and 90’s, when people started to mull over the idea that “less equals more,” driven by those who still romanticized over the teachings of Emerson and Thoreau. And perhaps, by people who realized they were wasting precious financial resources on rarely used square footage, when they could have been using it to create memories and explore the world. Now many professionals and retirees alike are trading three-thousand square feet for six-hundred or less, and some of them on wheels!
It’s as much a social movement as architectural, in that living a simpler life with less home space removes many of the obstacles to people’s happiness. There are significant financial benefits, including the upfront cost of the home, and smaller electricity and gas bills. A tiny home has fewer maintenance costs, lower property taxes, and usually results in spending less money on frivolous purchases. Less utility usage also has a smaller impact on the environment, and less consumption means less waste being deposited into landfills.
Considered a fad by many real estate moguls before 2020, it has accelerated even faster during and after the pandemic. As people transitioned to work-from-home models or seeking completely new jobs, a paradigm shift occurred. A wide range of jobs that we used to think of as exclusively limited to in-office work, could apparently be done quite well from somewhere else, and the new landscape of digital knowledge-work created more time for controlling and living our lives the way we want. People don’t want to go back to long commutes or the confinement of a cubical, and many have shed the restriction of working solely for one company. They now work for many companies around the world, unbound by commuting or time zones.
Making Effective Use Of Space
The big challenge in transitioning to tiny home living, is how to incorporate the essentials of a full life into a compact space. Even in a large house, storage space can be a problem, so in a tiny home you have to be genuinely creative, but there’s a lot of space that is often overlooked. The empty space under stairs is a great place to start, as well as creating accessible storage under furniture and beds. Utilize the space that is always left empty over cabinets and close to the ceiling, and don’t forget the corners and awkward spaces.Using stylish double-duty furniture, such as sofas that convert into beds and lifestyle pieces that fold and hide away, like collapsible exercise equipment, are great ways to convert limited space into a multi-functional environment. And walls, the most underutilized area in any home, are the perfect location for a DropTop.™ from Pith & Stem.
As the nature of work has changed for brave new-worlders, and for those who seek to simplify their lives in a more compact dwelling, they must also find ways to work from the same space.
DropTop.™ is a stylish, space effective solution for tiny-home professionals. When not in use it folds neatly against the wall and offers an element of modern decor, and when opened it provides a compact workstation able to rival the best corporate office setups. It provides generous desk space and is fully integrated with monitors, ready to "plug and play" with any laptop.
For those who seek to reduce their footprint in the world, and yet still be able to work effectively and have a career, the DropTop.™ is an innovative work-space for the compact home revolution.
WFH In 2022: What You Really Need To Make It Enjoyable
Why are we struggling so much to find a work life balance at home?
Why can we not just enjoy the extra hours gained by not commuting?
What are the 2 main issues holding us back from actually enjoying the benefit of remote working?
Remember catching yourself daydreaming about how great it would be if you could work from home a few days a week? Today, working remotely is nothing new. Everyone’s doing it and seem to be too busy doing so. Where did the freedom go though and why does everyone seem to work at least 12 hours a day?
There is a ton of information available out there on how to work remotely effectively and efficiently, but there’s hardly anything on how to enjoy the process. Is it here to stay, is it still temporary, are we more productive in the office, is the Hybrid model better, should we go back to full time in the office or at home? These questions seem to be all over polls on LinkedIn.
I believe the answer is, there is no one size fits all. Working for a GP surgery is different to working for a tech startup which is again very different to working for Twitter. Whilst there is no clear answer to what will happen by the end of the year, let's look at how we can make it a bit more enjoyable.
The First reason is Psychological. You don't feel that you are doing enough.
When going in the office, things are a little simpler. You come to work 15 minutes early with a cup of coffee and a croissant, you do your work in an efficient way keeping on top of your workload as much as you can, avoiding too much chit chat with that colleague that never knows when to stop. You then leave 10 minutes after your shift has ended and you feel satisfied with your efforts for the day. You were there, everyone was there, your productivity was in many ways witnessed so it won't be questioned.
When working remotely though you naturally feel that you need to do more. You feel that you have been entrusted with your workload and since there is no-one there to witness you working you need to keep on top of absolutely everything, otherwise anything that goes wrong is your fault and everyone will think that you were slacking and not actually taking your work seriously.
Lowering your expectations a little bit and trying to prioritise life a little more is generally the best thing you can do. Many people end up falling into the trap of repeatedly working late because they're "trying to catch up" ending up in an endless loop of working really long hours, then feeling tired the next day, then working at 40% capacity for the biggest part of the day and having to work really late again just to keep on top of that their basic tasks. Clearly that's not a sustainable practice and the more you do it the more you get stuck in that energy sucking loop. I always find myself procrastinating and feeling extremely unproductive if I had to stay and work late the previous evening to achieve a deadline. Try to avoid it as much as you can.
Good working equipment is key
Screen real estate is seriously underrated. Endlessly minimising tabs, windows and programs and stubornly trying to split a small laptop screen to fit 3 different programs to the point where you cannot even see what you're typing is not the way. With the amount of different tools needed to perform most jobs in todays world, an ultra wide monitor next or above your laptop is an absolute must. I spent a year working from a sofa hunched over my laptop on a coffee table until I finally decided to listen to a friend and make space in a corner for a little cluttered corner desk that would allow me to use 2 monitors. The world changed, I felt invincible. It felt like I was doing double the work, in half the time, twice as easy. My setup today is a DropTop.™ Pro L that has 2 screens side by side that are about 30cm above the desk level on adjustable arms and I have my laptop in the centre under them. I use my laptop's screen as the "menu" to access browsers, files and programs and drag them up on one of the working screens. This is the perfect setup for me, I always seem to have everything I need in front of me and big enough so I can comfortably see it. The dining table is not a desk, it was never designed for work. Dragging screens out of cupboards every morning, plugging power leads, chargers adaptors, connecting keyboards and looking for that misplaced mouse again gets very soul consuming after a while and will set you up for a bad start for the day.
A comfortable chair is equally important, your dining chair is designed for short usage and when it starts feeling uncomfortable, you have probably overstayed your welcome as far as that chair is concerned. The sofa may have been good enough for lockdown V1 but it's certainly not a work setup. You will spend more hours on that chair than you spend doing any other activity so definitely invest in comfort, it will change your mood and improve your productivity.
Nothing works without good internet and nothing can be more frustrating than a bad internet connection that keeps on dropping all the time. Have you ever been working on something for 5-10 minutes intensely just to see an error on your screen saying that your work was lost because your internet is down? Yeap, there is no turning back… it feels like handing in your resignation there and then. Why am I working? What’s the meaning of life? To be or not to be? F*ck you internet connection provider, it's all your fault. Thankfully, for most of us this is one of those problems in life that money can actually solve. Speak to your neighbours or check your postcode online and find which provider offers the best internet service at the best price in your area and make the switch today. You will not regret this one.
These are in my opinion the 2 fundamental things you can change, that will have a great immediate impact. No1 your attitude an expectations and No2 your WFH setup.
How to get productive working from home in 2022.
Tip #1 create the perfect home-office setup.
Working from home is fantastic! Right? It certainly can be and be an ideal environment for many but without proper planning it can be a disaster. Mental health statistics are suggesting that the majority of professionals that are now working remotely are still struggling with the transition resulting in high anxiety levels and burnout.
What may seem like perks of being able to perform your job from the comfort of your own home may also be distracting and an obstacle to getting the most out of your working day. Having the comfiest sofa, TV, a fully stocked kitchen, a games console and you pets or kids around you may seem like an amazing benefit of having your home as your office but without discipline these can soon have a negative impact on your work.
Not only can these distractions result in less productivity, but they can also be detrimental to your health. A healthy routine is good for your wellbeing and losing the commute to work for many can mean losing their only daily exercise. Having your whole kitchen at your disposal can mean eating more than you usually would at work. Companies invest a lot of money to ensure that the equipment you use meets health and safety and provides you with a comfortable and correct working environment. So, although the sofa may be comfy, or the kitchen table and dining chair may seem like the most practical solution but these are far from ideal for your body, your mental health and your productivity. Poor desk posture can lead to health implications affecting your back, neck, wrists and eyes (among others) and working in uncomfortable positions will affect your mood in a negative way.
So how do we stay productive, and ensure we have a healthy working posture at home with no health and safety teams keeping an eye on us?
Here we look at some top tips to staying safe and productive:
Treat a workday with the respect it deserves, get up on time, get showered and have a healthy breakfast like you would if you were going to the office. Dress appropriately and don’t work in your pyjamas. This puts you in the right frame of mind to get the most out of your day and helps maintain a healthy work/life balance.
Start and finish work on time and take regular breaks. It can be tempting or too easy to work late but always aim to stick to your working hours and push yourself to get the most out of yourself in those hours.
Leave the house/flat even if only one a day. A 20 minute walk every day in the fresh air either as a break or before you start work can reinvigorate you and help keep you more active and able to focus.
Define your spaces and separate your work life from your home life. Have a room dedicated to working, even if this is not an actual office or study and use this same space every day. If you do not have the space for a dedicated office, then a space saving, folding desk is a great solution. The DropTop. ™ from Pith & Stem. is the perfect space saving folding-desk for any home-office. It provides an extra-large worktop when open and includes integrated monitors in either an ultra-wide screen or dual 24” monitor configuration to maximise productivity, but folds away when not in use leaving a stylish framed print in its place, so perfect for any room. Being wall-mounted it can also be positioned at the perfect height to aligning your eyes with the monitors to ensure healthy siting position. Also try to avoid allowing your pets or children play around you whilst working! Play with them as a pleasant distraction during your break.
Try and keep your workstation or desk area clean and tidy. A tidy desk helps keep a tidy mind, which helps make your day more productive. Having a suitable sized desk can help with this, with large desks allowing you to organise your notes, equipment and have space to breath.
Use a supportive and comfortable chair. A supportive chair for prolonged use is essential, and ideally mesh backed ones that allow you good airflow around your back. Make sure you can comfortably tuck your chair right under your desk, and that your forearms can rest on the desk with your elbows resting at a 90-degree angle.
Once you have your tidy and clean workstation and a supportive chair then it is essential to ensure you have your desks and monitors setup at the correct height to encourage correct posture when sitting. Our diagram below shows the ideal sitting position. You want to ensure your eyes are facing forward and as level as possible, so you are not craning your neck or hunching you back. Now you’re good to go!
So, in summary, treat your home-office be it a separate study or a dedicated area of a living or bedroom as your place of work. Treat it like you would your office, dress appropriately and be disciplined with your time. Use the correct equipment and invest in a purpose-built desk and chair and you will find working from home as productive as working in the office and will ensure you maintain healthy posture!
Is your WFH setup ready for Plan B?
The Prime Minister last week announced that the government was implementing its ‘Plan B’ strategy to cope with the rising threat of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. These rules include face masks to become compulsory once again in most public indoor venues, Covid Passes to be mandatory in specific settings, and that people should work from home wherever possible. Boris Johnson said: "Go to work if you must, but work from home if you can."
In 2020 35% of workers in Britain did ‘some’ work according to the Office for National Statistics, with many preferring a hybrid model of going into the office at least one or two days a week once restrictions were lifted at the end of the last lockdown.
With the recommendation that we now work from home wherever possible back in place it brings the focus back on our working from home setup. If working from home is going to be a fundamental part of the government’s fight against Covid, we need to be ready to flex our working from home muscles. Dedicating a whole room to a desk or study is not only not feasible for many, but it’s also not practical for those only working at home one or two days a week, or those who only work from home during the recommended periods.
What we need is a flexible home office solution that does not waste valuable living space but at the same time provides a fully equipped, practical working environment to ensure that we are equally as productive working from home as we are in the office. Even once this winter is over. Traditionally, as a nation, we continue to go to work even when we have a cold, especially if we still feel well enough to work, despite having a cough or runny nose. Working from home is one of the most effective tools to prevent viruses’ like Covid from spreading and as a society we now have viable alternatives to calling in sick and should all be looking to work from home whenever we feel unwell.
Folding desks have become an excellent option for home offices, especially in smaller homes or flats. Typically, though these have been lightweight and susceptible to damage, especially if a careless bum happens to perch on them. DropTop.™ from Pith and Stem’s unique design however not only provides an extra-large work surface, but the reinforced desk is also strong enough to support a fully grown man standing on it meaning the desk will last for many cold and flu seasons to come!
Having integrated monitors built into the unit also means that DropTop.™ provides an instant home office setup equal to any office-based workstation. So even on an impromptu day off our productivity is not impacted. Out of sight and neatly hidden behind a framed wall canvas print also means DropTop.™ can be located in any room of the house without impacting your living space, giving you the best of both worlds of style and practicality.
Remember, although there may be a Plan B, there is no planet B. So not only does working from home limit the spread of viruses it reduces our carbon footprint massively. Travel and commuting are some of the biggest sources of carbon emissions in the UK. We can all help do our part by working from home as often as we can.
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