Three working from home upgrades you should make for a happier day at the office

A man sitting on a sofa working on a laptop
10,000 Hours/Getty Images
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
18 February 2021

What with kids gatecrashing your Zoom calls and the kitchen table doubling up as your desk, working from home can be difficult – especially if you don’t have a separate space that you can use as your office. There are, however, some very simple things you can do to improve your space and make working from home a more relaxing and productive experience. Take a look at these three upgrades you could do this weekend, and get set to revive your WFH habitat with some easy yet super-effective tweaks.

Three cheers for a standing desk

Sitting has been labelled “the new smoking” in terms of how it impacts your health: in other words, not good news. Yet, a lot of us are probably hunched in the same chair most of the day – and now that most of us have been working from home for most of the last year, we’re not even benefitting from the exercise we may have had commuting to the office.

One way to combat that is to work standing up – which comes with a whole heap of benefits. According to an NHS study, people who spent less time sitting down while working were less tired and more engaged. The same research also found that people who stood for even just an hour a day reported an improvement in musculoskeletal problems.

A Deskmate standing desk converter

If you’re considering making the switch to a standing desk – even just to use for a few hours a day – Deskmate, a company that received a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp, could help you do it. Deskmate’s standing desk converters mean that you can make any surface a standing desk – perfect if you’re currently perched at the kitchen counter.

Pop on those blue light glasses

Chances are over the last 12 months, your screen time has increased significantly. Thanks to lockdown, most of our socialising is now done via Zoom rather than at the pub so even when we clock off from work, we’re still facing the screen. That digital glow is a constant companion in our lives – and not in a good way. 

According to a National Sleep Foundation study, the blue light from our laptops, tablets and smartphones is affecting our ability to sleep. The glow from screens impacts the production of melatonin (the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle) making it harder to fall and stay asleep.

A man working on a laptop wearing Ocushield glasses

So what can you do? Research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2020 found that wearing blue light glasses, especially just before you sleep, can lead to a better night’s sleep, better career decision-making and even makes you more productive at work.

Ocushield, another company that received support from Virgin StartUp, offers some stylish options for blue light glasses. “With our blue light blocking glasses you can spend time on screens without all of the nasty stuff that comes with it – such as headaches, tired eyes and sleepless nights. Unlike other glasses, our lenses won't turn everything orange,” marketing manager Chelsea Battle said. “Our glasses are FDA approved and have added anti-glare, anti-fog and full UV Protection function.”

Surround yourself with plants, glorious plants

Having some greenery in your home working space will certainly lend an Insta-worthy interiors edge for all your video calls – but did you know that having plants in your office can also make you happier and more productive at work?

A woman working from home with plants on her desk
borchee/Getty Images

A study where psychologists brought plants into previously bare offices found that people’s ability to remember things and perform other tasks improved substantially. Dr Chris Knight, who worked on the findings, told the Guardian: “What was important was that everybody could see a plant from their desk. If you are working in an environment where there's something to get you psychologically engaged you are happier and you work better.”

What upgrades have you made to your home working space in the past year? We’d love to know. Share your tips and photos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.