Never in the bedroom, sometimes in the kitchen...Which rooms are best for working from home? 

As coronavirus forces more and more employees to work from home, here is our guide on the best rooms to make use of (and ones to avoid)

Premium
Which rooms are best for working from home?
"Only two activities should happen in the bedroom"...Here are the rules you should follow when working from home Credit: PeopleImages / Getty Images

It’s not just supermarket shelves that are emptying out. Now, as a precaution against coronavirus, offices are emptying out as employees increasingly work from home

Working from home seems appealing. You can roll out of bed, switch on your laptop and catch up on emails, all while still in your dressing gown. It also brings benefits to your employer, as it increases productivity by 13 per cent, according to a 2013 Stanford University study. Everybody wins - in theory, at least. 

In reality, however, it can be quite difficult to concentrate when working from home, as you are surrounded by distractions - whether that be your children, Facebook, or a midday viewing of Loose Women.  

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can boost your productivity by choosing the right spot in which to work from home. Naturally, it’s best to have your own private study in the spare room. However, if that’s not possible, these are your other options for working more productively from home. 

Bedroom

“I think there are only two activities that should happen in the bedroom. That is sleeping and mating,” quips Jonas Altman, productivity expert at Social Fabric

Even if that is the case, 80 per cent of young professionals work from bed, according to market research in New York published in the Wall Street Journal. It’s easy to see the appeal: being under your duvet is relaxing. It feels like you’re not really working. And that is part of the problem. 

“You tend to be slumped in your bed, with your laptop on your knees, and it can be comfortable and it’s okay for short periods - but not as a working environment,” says productivity coach Clare Evans. Lying in bed encourages you to be “lounging around in your PJs all day,” she adds, which is not good for productivity. 

If you want to work in your bedroom, you need a desk and chair in the corner, Evans says, as you should sit up straight at work. “Posture has an impact on how we feel generally. So if we’re standing or sitting upright we’re going to be more engaged, your blood and the oxygen is going to be moving around your body,” she says. 

Living room

If the bed is off limits, does the same go for the sofa? In a word, yes. “Similar to the bed, the sofa isn’t always a good place for working,” Evans says, as “we tend to lounge on sofas, rather than sit upright”. This is fine for a short period of time, but you shouldn’t spend your whole working day on the sofa.

Aside from the “temptation of the TV in the corner”, working from the sofa can be bad for your neck, as you have to bend it to look at the laptop in your lap. Evans recommends installing a desk and chair in the corner, if you have space to do so. 

Yet there are some tasks that you can complete on the sofa, according to Altman. “It’s a great spot for reading, researching, and planning,” he says. “I find it just the right level of cosiness to get lighter stuff done that can often be performed reclined and even with a glass of wine from time to time.”

Kitchen

The kitchen is particularly suitable for “a cognitively demanding work,” according to Altman, as it is not very comfortable so it forces you to focus. “I favor pulling up a bar stool at the kitchen countertop, as I find it's only comfortable sitting like this for one or two hours max. This is the perfect amount of time to go deep in your work - writing, learning, planning, or prepping.” 

However, working in the kitchen does have its downsides - namely, interference from others. “You’re more likely to have people coming and going, needing to clear things away, food preparation, etc,” Evans says.

Working in the kitchen can have its distractions... Credit: Chad Springer/Image Source

It’s harder to maintain the boundaries between work and home in the kitchen, adds Karin Mueller, career coach at Liebfrog. However, it can help if you put your laptop away for meal times and at the end of the day. 

Dining room

If you live in a house with a dining room, the table is a popular place to work, according to Evans. “It’s an underused room, there’s plenty of space and you can shut the door and effectively turn it into your office - even if it’s only temporary,” she says.

If you live in a flat where there is no enclosed dining room, Evans recommends the kitchen table as an option. 

Child's room

If you want to work in your child’s room while they are at school or university, take precautions. “Consider what’s behind you,” Mueller warns. “As remote working is taking off, more and more organisations encourage people to turn on their webcam for virtual meetings.

“I certainly have been on plenty of calls with people calling from their kid’s bedroom, with pink unicorns peeking over their shoulder as they are delivering the latest project update.” For this reason, some video conferencing platforms now allow you to blur the background. 

The location is just part of the picture, however. Follow the steps below on how to stay productive when working from home.