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Aah, working from home. It's the dream, isn't it?
Getting up minutes – rather than hours – before your official start time. Commuting 'down the stairs' or even 'across the landing' to your dining table or desk. Dressing formally to the waist – newsreader, style – for video calls to the boss. Little do they know you've swapped your killer heels for fluffy bunny slippers.
Related: Want a better work-life balance (and to go to work in your pyjamas)? Join the 2.5m who work from home
A recent survey by comparison site Love Energy Savings reveals that 44 per cent of brits prefer to work from home rather than traipse into the office, But it's just not always practical.
So how can employees and employers make the workplace feel like home, so that the office becomes somewhere we all want to visit? Well we think these steps are a good place to start.
1. Decorate your desk
Make your workspace seem like an extension of your home instantly with a few desk ornaments. Add framed photographs, pop your pens into a favourite mug and treat yourself to a new mousepad.
You could even use your own mouse (you might want to check with the IT department beforehand, but it shouldn't be an issue). Logitech has lots of quirky designs, and there's sure to be one that rings true with your personal style.
Even if you're hot desking, it should be possible to have a few personal belongings around you that will brighten up your day.
2. Introduce some plants
Did you know that plants are proven to reduce anxiety, tension, depression, anger and fatigue by as much as 58 per cent?* So after that umpteenth call or email from a particularly frustrating client or co-worker, it might help to have a few succulents or sponge plants nearby.
If you're struggling to get your employer on board with this, point out the findings of Legal & General’s Workplace Wellbeing report of November 2013. It estimates that sick days cost the average UK business £120,000 a year. We bet you'll see greenery sprouting up all over the place shortly after!
Grow your own: Indoor plants – our pick of the best
3. Dine in style
'A real pleasure of home working is the ability to cook whatever you like, whenever you like,' says Phil Foster, Managing Director at Love Energy Savings. 'There’s no need to worry about what the boss might say. You can snack to your heart’s content!'
'We think that's why lots of businesses are relaxing on the food front nowadays,' Phil adds. 'They realise that letting staff eat their favourite foods at their desks is a small price to pay for higher productivity.'
To make desk dining that bit more pleasurable, bring your own fancy tableware to work. It's so much nicer to eat your meal on a pretty plate with a metal knife and fork, that from a plastic or paper plate or bowl using plastic cutlery. And it's better for the environment, too.
That said, we're big fans of Sistema's Soup-To-Go mug and Noodles-To-Go bowl. If you're looking to bring productivity-boosting home-cooked meals into the office, they're ideal.
4. Speak to the boss about an office makeover
More inspiration: Home office ideas
We've all heard the rumours about the offices of digital start-ups, with slides instead of stairs, meeting rooms made out of gingerbread and water coolers dispensing gin and tonic. Well, something like that.
But for too many of us, work resembles doing eight-hours-a-day 'time' in a gloomy grey workplace prison. If you feel that's the case, it might be worth having a word with the 'powers that be' about a makeover.
'To transform the office into a place that employees actually want to travel to, a business must invest in comfortable furniture and décor,' says Phil Foster. 'Sofas in a chill-out zone, plants speckled around the room, colourful wallpaper… all of the above contribute to a homely sort of space that people enjoy working in.'
*According to a 2010 study by the University of Technology, Sydney.
Amy Cutmore is Editor-in-Chief, Homes Audience, working across the Future Homes portfolio. She works on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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