Kaitlin Kingrey

by Kaitlin Kingrey

Interior Designer

Working from Home? 5 Ways to Improve Your WFH Situation

  • APRIL 09, 2020
  • READ

Award-winning Interior Designer, Kaitlin Kingrey, is the brilliant mind behind nationally recognized workplaces, including the new White Castle Home Office, and Columbus powerhouse companies like Borror and NAI Equities

Using her expertise, she’s breaking down the top 5 ways to improve your work from home situation, with design principles that will support you now, and serve you later once we’re back in the office. 

1) Take a Lesson from WELL  - WELL certification is the leading tool for advancing health and well-being in buildings globally, often touted as the “next step” beyond the more commonly known LEED certification standards. The principles of WELL teach us that investing in your employees’ well-being is integral to achieving success in the workplace. How can you remember to invest in your own well-being while working from home? Look to the 7 concepts of WELL for inspiration in finding balance and comfort:

  1. Air - Open up those windows (even if it's cold outside) to take some breaths of fresh outside air.
  2. Water - Track your water intake throughout the day, and remember to refill! You no longer have the excuse of sitting far away from the office water cooler.
  3. Nourishment - The interior design studio at M+A has been sharing delicious recipes with each other to experiment with during Quarantine. Reach out to friends and family to broaden your culinary horizons and do the same! Take the chance to cook at home or find health conscious meals from local restaurants that support your community’s economy while nourishing your body.
  4. Light - Do your own "sun study" at home, and chase the daylight. Which rooms get morning sun? Try working there in the mornings, and see if you can move throughout your house as the sun moves throughout the day.
  5. Fitness - Challenge yourself everyday to find a way to move your body. Whether it’s walking outdoors, or connecting virtually with a local studio that’s offering free fitness classes during the pandemic, make movement a priority. Check out Columbus born System of Strength’s Digital Studio for awesome free classes that will keep you moving.
  6. Comfort - There's nothing wrong with a PJ day! A defining characteristic of Danish culture, "Hygge" is a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being. Embrace the comfort and cozy up with some blankets and make yourself  truly "at home."
  7. Mind - Exercise your mind to keep it healthy. Think about the things you’ve always threatened to do if only you had time - now is your chance. From finally developing a consistent yoga practice to finding a way to connect with nature daily, or reading, cooking, or meditating, quarantine has given us the space to cultivate new healthy habits. The time will pass anyway, so why not make it count

2) Switch it Up! - While having one dedicated "work zone" is excellent for establishing routine (and managing acoustics, if you have kiddos running around!), don't forget the value gained by the concept of flexible working. Consider switching up your WFH environment throughout the day, based on your tasks at hand. You may find that the variety helps to keep those creative juices flowing. For example:

Is it sunny and 70 outside? Try taking that conference call on your front porch, or better yet - during a walk around the neighborhood.

Does your kitchen have a lot of natural daylight? Take advantage of it and try sketching/concepting at your kitchen table for a change of pace.

Have a lot of emails to get through? Undock that laptop and dedicate 30 mins of comfy couch-time to sort through your inbox more comfortably.

3) Pre-Plan Respite Opportunities - Maintaining a good quality of mental health is more important now than ever, as we deal with the heaviness that is our new reality of COVID-19. 

So what is respite? It’s whatever taking a break looks like, and feels like, to you.

Break up your day with pre-planned opportunities for respite, to ensure some dedicated YOU-time. People confuse mindfulness with having to sit in a dark room in a pretzel pose, when in fact it’s anything you do where you are completely present in the moment - not distracted by thoughts and focusing simply on whatever you are doing there and now.

Human connection can also revitalize your energy and help to move your day along with touchpoints. Sip your coffee with a friend or family member before starting work... either virtually or in real-time! A call to your mom might be the boost you need first thing in the morning.

Take 10 minutes to unplug with some yoga, stretching, deep-breathing or meditation. 

4) Transform your Workspace - Not all of us have the luxury of a dedicated office inside our home. So, what's an apartment-dweller to do? Whatever your scenario, make your WFH space feel special. Turn your makeshift work zone into an environment you look forward to being in. Some thought starters:

Personalize your area. Do you have a favorite photo of a loved one that makes you smile? Grab it off the wall and temporarily move it into your new work space!

Liven it up! Order some inexpensive succulents (even fake ones will do the trick!) to add some much-needed life and greenery. 

Let it burn. Take a candle with your favorite scent, (or some essential oils) and only use them in your new work area. It creates a subconscious positive association with your space.

Pump up the tunes! Search for a new playlist to bring a little energy to your routine. 

5) Stay in Touch - This is something both introverts and extroverts can agree on - feeling connected to other humans is vital for your mental health. Americans suffering from loneliness and social isolation are 30% more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than individuals with strong support networks, and all age ranges are affected.

The risk of loneliness and social isolation as the transition to working from home continues is at risk of rise, with studies from Cigna already reporting that 61% of Americans felt lonely and disconnected.

If you're feeling disconnected, turn to a virtual interactive solution. Simple interactions in digital forms, like Zoom, Google Hangouts, or FaceTime, can help build emotional connection and combat loneliness.

Whether it’s a virtual happy hour, Sunday dinner, or a trivia night with family and friends, these tools that have emerged facilitate digital human connection and create comfort.

If you haven't already, set up regular check-ins with your personal and professional circles, find and explore new ways to communicate. Apps like Slack and HouseParty make keeping in touch easier. 

As we move through this unprecedented time, we at M+A are committed to giving you the tools and resources you need to handle things in the best way possible. Remember to take things one day at a time, and to focus on what you can control - and in this case, it’s creating the best workspace possible! 

If you're interested in learning more, continue the conversation by contacting Kaitlin Kingrey, Interior Designer, at kaitlink@ma-architects.com.

Kaitlin Kingrey

by Kaitlin Kingrey

Interior Designer

Award-winning Interior Designer, Kaitlin Kingrey, is the brilliant mind behind nationally recognized workplaces. She is a responsive designer who is able to not only present beautiful designs but also befriend everyone on the project team and earn their trust for innovative ideas. When Kaitlin isn't hard at work, she enjoys hiking and exploring new places.