Simple things to do to reduce noise while working at home.

While a year ago, many of us would have loved to be able to work from home a bit more often, now that it has become the norm, we are experiencing newfound challenges. In this article, we would like to delve into one of the main reasons why working from home could be challenging for some of us, namely, noise. There are several factors that could potentially affect the extent to which we are able to work in a quiet environment, starting from a noisy neighbour and outside sounds to our own flatmates or family members. If not addressed properly, this situation can become quite frustrating in the long run and could affect our focus, our productivity at work, and even our well-being. For this reason, in this article, we will share a few suggestions regarding how to manage noise at home more effectively. For additional tips on how to nurture your well-being while working from home, take a look at our other articles here and here.

Several factors could potentially affect the extent to which we are able to work in a quiet environment, starting from a noisy neighbour and outside sounds to our own flatmates or family members.

1. Consider the furniture & layout of your home office

The objects present in a room, as well as the way they are positioned can both have an impact on the way that sounds circulate and reverberate in the space. It’s important, for instance, to make sure that the room that you are working in has enough furniture in it, preferably with soft surfaces, so as to avoid an echo-ing effect. If you don’t have enough space for furniture or that is not possible for whatever reason, then you could try to prevent this effect from occurring by using the walls to hang framed pictures, prints or paintings, or by adding plants around the room and rugs on the floor. These will also be effective at absorbing the sounds. Depending on your situation, make sure to place your desk in a position that keeps it as far away from the source of noise as possible.

2. Use headphones

Whether you prefer listening to music, to ambient noises, or simply not playing anything at all, headphones will tone down other noises in your environment and allow you to focus on your work much more easily. If you would like to make sure that you’re able to work in complete silence, you could also consider investing in a pair of noise cancelling headphones.

3. Acoustic panels

If you would like to invest in a sound proofing technique, one of the most affordable and practical options is to purchase acoustic panels. There are many types of acoustic panels, some more decorative than others and some more expensive than others. However, you do not need a fancy solution if you do not want one. In essence, even a piece of foam glued to the underside of your desk (where it will not be visible) will do the trick. Regardless of what kind of acoustic panel you choose, it will reduce the echo effects to a higher degree and will ensure that the sounds allowed in your office are kept at a minimal level.

Due to the current circumstances, managing our home environment has become one of the priorities that we have to pay close attention to, compared to in previous times. For some of us, dealing with outdoor or indoor noises could be one of the biggest challenges that working remotely poses. If you find yourself in the situation of having to work in a noisy environment, we recommend that you apply a combination of layout, interior design, and soundproofing techniques to manage the soundscape of your home in a much easier way.

If you are wondering how the space in your home could be better adapted to deal with the daily sounds in your environment, then get in touch with us. We would be happy to help you with the process of redesigning your home in a way that supports your working from home dynamic.

Four suggestions for improving your mental health while working from home.

It is easy to overlook our mental health in these challenging times. This is not only because we might be too busy or because it seems like there are more urgent things going on in the world right now, but also since the activities that previously helped us recharge might either not be possible at the moment, or they might have to take a different form. However, this is not to say that mental health is any less important than it used to be before. If anything, the current lockdown should remind us even more of why it’s so important to treat mental health and wellbeing as priorities.

This might sound easier said than done. So, let us clarify what we mean by prioritising mental health and wellbeing. In this article, we aim to transform this into a process that is easy to follow, by dividing it into three dimensions. We hope that our suggestions will come in handy regardless of whether you are currently working from home or you do not have the option to do so fully.

It is easy to overlook our mental health in these challenging times.

1. Create a routine

The one aspect that is at the heart of preserving our wellbeing while working from home is sticking to a nurturing routine. This will make it much easier to follow any of the other suggestions presented in this article. For most of us, sticking to a routine includes having clearly delimited working hours during weekdays, and dedicating a time frame for relaxation and recreation. In other words, making as much of an effort as possible to respect the office working hours, without falling into the trap of working from home non-stop.

2. Mental wellbeing

The first dimension of wellbeing is the mental one. As previously mentioned, maintaining a good mental wellbeing is closely connected to maintaining a balanced routine. Having breaks, for instance, is an essential aspect of it. In terms of recreational activities, we suggest engaging in somewhat creative ones, such as reading, listening to music, or adult colouring books. If you would like to know more about breaks and creativity, check out our other article here. Additionally, incorporating meditation in your daily routine is another very effective way of ensuring an improved mental focus and better stress tolerance during work1. Keep in mind that there are different meditation methods designed for different purposes, so you can choose what works for you best.

Sticking to a routine includes having clearly delimited working hours during weekdays, and dedicating a time frame for relaxation.

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3. Physical wellbeing

Our physical wellbeing is just as important as the mental one. In fact, they are often interconnected. Exercising is essential for maintaining our physical wellbeing, and this could also be easily incorporated into a routine. For instance, going for a walk at lunchtime is a great way of getting some fresh air and having a break. If you consider yourself more of a morning person and if you would like to start your day in a way that ensures your mental and physical wellbeing, then a home workout in the early hours might be the choice for you. Alternatively, you could have an evening one, in the same way that some people prefer to go to the gym at the end of a workday, for instance.

4. Consider your environment

Lastly, there is a connection between interior spaces and our wellbeing. Natural light, for instance, has been proven to reduce stress and increase satisfaction. For this reason, you might want to make sure that you allow as much of it as possible into your space. With the right balance of bright colours, decorations and plants, you can make the most of your space in a way that supports your mental health while working from home.

In these crucial times, our mental health and wellbeing are essential to help us cope. By maintaining a routine and taking into consideration both the mental and physical dimensions of wellbeing, we can adjust our daily activities in a way that is meaningful and suitable to the home environment. However, it is important to remember that we are all doing our best to adapt to an unexpected situation that keeps changing. So, do not be too harsh on yourself if you can’t keep it up every day, and, if things get too overwhelming, know that it is sometimes more productive to just have a break.

If you would like to know more about the link between interior design and wellbeing, or if you are wondering how your space might be affecting your own situation (for better or for worse), then get in touch with us. We would be happy to help you with the process of redesigning your home in a way that supports your wellbeing while working from home.

Four tips to recreate the best of the workplace at home.

Do you remember what it felt like to work surrounded by colleagues? Things like hearing the sound of a printer or having a chat with a co-worker during a coffee break used to give our days a completely different feeling. With the current state of events, it might seem like this kind of atmosphere is so distant from us, unreachable in the near future. Most of us have adapted to the new routine in one way or another, often leaving certain aspects of the old one behind. When not having as many interactions, working from home can sometimes make all days feel like they blend into one. To change things up a bit, it is worth attempting to recreate some of the details of our office experience that used to make up a pleasant and familiar routine.

1. Staying connected to our colleagues

The relationships between coworkers are essential for creating a good workplace experience. It’s why most HR managers focus on fostering a feeling of belonging within the company. In the absence of a physical workspace, we might need this sense of connection even more than before. Luckily, social interactions are one aspect that can be taken to the digital work environment. But an email or text message might not always be enough to foster this feeling. To make this experience seem more personal, you could consider sending voice/video messages, as well as scheduling calls more often in order to work together or discuss ideas. Additionally, since body language and verbal cues are lost in written messages, this is a much better way to ensure that you and your co-workers are communicating effectively.

The relationships between coworkers are essential for creating a good workplace experience.

2. A digital open-door policy

This is a working from home equivalent to the policy that allows employees to pop into a manager or team leader’s office in order to ask questions, discuss ideas, or pose any concerns they might have. It could be an open, walk-in type of online meeting within a designated time frame of the day, similar to university professors’ office hours. In this way, the manager can stay connected on the call while working, so that employees can log into the call and have a chat with him/her whenever something pops up.

3. The soundscape of an office

While in regular times it may go unnoticed, this is another key element of the workplace environment that could be adapted to remote work. Listening to ambient noises is a common way of creating a workplace experience at home. This website, for instance, has been built with the intention of creating the atmosphere of an office. Due to its interactive nature, you can select the number of co-workers you would like to share the office with and click on individual objects in the room in order to hear different types of sounds. It includes the sounds of water being poured, keyboard typing, footsteps, and low background conversations. Furthermore, these office noises could make you relax, zone out, and increase your focus during working. This could be especially helpful if your living situation makes it more difficult to work in a quiet environment.

4. Digital Friday evening drinks

This is an idea that has been implemented by many companies, and its purpose is meant to respond to the same needs. Informal meetings between colleagues are constructive for team building, and having drinks at home is a good way of having a social break while rewarding employees for a successful week of work.

Changing the environment we are working in has the potential to offer new opportunities for working more effectively than before. In order to make the most out of working from home and to achieve a good balance between work and life, it is a good idea to try and transfer some of the key elements that create a healthy office environment to the home one. A sense of connection is essential for maintaining this, and a few ways that it could be achieved through is by using a combination of online interactions and ambient sounds.

If you have any questions about adapting your house to your own desires and needs, then get in touch with us. We would be happy to help you with the process of redesigning your home in a way that supports your working from home dynamics.

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