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Beth Erskine Working From Home Beth Erskine Hard at Work … From Home!

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Now You’re Working From Home

Interior Designer, and American in the UK, Beth Erskine gives us some handy tips on setting up our home office spaces

Published on March 30, 2020



It’s Business As Usual at Design In A Day, but we work from home all the time. Now that more of us are working from home, we want to help you set up a home office where you can actually work. It may have seemed like an indulgence before, when you only occasionally worked from home, but now is the time to get yourself set up properly. More of us are going to be home for awhile, so let us help you. We have some great advice and we know all the suppliers that are still delivering. Read on and then get in touch to have us design a proper space for you.

Critical Issues to Consider

Access - Think about the traffic patterns of the house and how that impacts your work. Do you need to shut yourself off for teleconferencing? A little or a lot? Can you manage with people (kids) coming in occasionally or do you need silence? Do you need total privacy? Setting up in the living room is fine until the kids are killing each other for the X-Box. Look for a location that allows you as much quiet and privacy your job demands.

Electricity - Is there power in the area you’ve selected? If not, can you safely bring an electrical lead to the area? Leads are a major trip hazard, for you and your office equipment. We’ve all pulled things off the table before, don’t let it be your laptop. And speaking of electrical leads, please, Please, PLEASE be sure to use one lead per socket and spring for the more expensive leads that have a power trip switch, in case of overload. Your laptop will thank you.

Lighting - You need to be able to see your computer screen. If the ceiling lighting is going to cast shadows when you sit down, you need a desk lamp. If the only place you can find is in front of a window, think about installing a sheer or blind to cut the glare. If the room is too dark, change out the light bulbs and take a cue from the Scandinavians; the white paper shades they favour amplify the light, making the room brighter.

Furniture - Can you get a proper chair to the area and sit your normal distance from the work surface? Being squished isn’t going to be a lasting solution and knocking something over each time you shift will lead to frustration. Do you have a desk? Is that desk large enough for you? You’ll be sitting there for several hours, so be honest with yourself about the amount of space you need. You may need to re-arrange the furniture for the duration, or move a piece to another room.

Storage - Do you need storage? File boxes or in trays? Where does the printer live? Do you need layout space that is larger than the desk? While most of us have paperless offices, there are still plenty that need to have paper copies. So think about how and where you’ll store them. Maybe you can get by with an expandable file, maybe you really need a file cabinet. One of those takes considerable floor space to be useful.

Teleconferencing View - This is a BIG ONE, so let’s break it down into 3 areas.

Background - Teleconferencing is going to show your co-workers and clients where and how you live. Think it’s not important? Think again. Everyone looks at the background. Everyone. What they see is what they’ll talk about. So set the stage carefully. Do you really want your co-workers to see that beach holiday photo? Remove it. Is that laundry drying behind you? Move it. Are you in your daughters bedroom surrounded by BTS posters? Move yourself. Scout out a few locations that will work without compromising your reputation. Call a friend, do a trial run.

Lighting - You need light IN FRONT of you people, not behind you. If the light is behind you, you are dark shadow. That may be fine for your family, but for business, it is aggravating. Face the window if it’s bright. Turn on a desk lamp if the room is dark. Do not rely on overhead lighting and do not leave it to chance. Call a friend, do a trial run.

Camera Location - Sitting on the sofa with the computer in your lap never works. I-pads and tablets are the same: we get a good view up your nose and that’s it. The webcam should be looking you in the eye. If it’s higher, we see your forehead. If it’s lower, we see your nose hair and double chins. Eye level is flattering and also lets you see the screen. Equally important, keep enough distance between you and the webcam to see your head and shoulders on screen. No more, no less. Call a friend, do a trial run. Can’t say that enough.

One Practical Consideration

You know your heating and electricity bills will go up, but this might be something you hadn’t thought about. Don’t be the guy that has to apologize for not getting your part done on time because you were fighting for bandwidth with Peppa Pig. If you have kids at home, and value your sanity, call your internet provider and see if you can increase your capability.

How We Can Help

We can’t come to your house right now, but we can still help and this is how:

1. Ideas - We've set up a Pinterest Board with creative and achievable ideas for home offices. Some are temporary, some permanent; some for singles, some double. 1 for kids! But most of them are do-able with simple tools. www.pinterest.co.uk/ErskineInteriors/workspaces

2. Bite Size Advice - We’re opening our calendar for hour long consultations for your home office: how to make some of the Pinterest ideas work, where to look for particular items, how to rearrange for a desk, or maybe you want us to be your trial run for online meetings. We’ll set up a Skype, Zoom, Facebook, or WhatApp video session with you. www.design-in-a-day.co.uk/contact

3. Remote Design Services - We do remote design services frequently and we’re offering a reduced fee for home office design services (and playrooms) while we’re all required to stay at home. All items for home offices will be in stock and available for immediate delivery. Items for other rooms may take longer. www.design-in-a-day.co.uk/book-a-day

4. Bespoke Design - We’re happy to undertake larger projects during this time. Playroom? Living room? New construction? Whatever you need. It’s the perfect time to be developing concepts and putting together schemes. A lot of our trade sources are still open and manufacturing. We can get it done and be first in line for delivery when we have the All Clear. Let’s talk and see how we can help you. beth@elizabetherskine.com

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