As the head of curatd. and team manager at The Furniture Practice, Doug Bodenham knows a thing or two about homeworking setups. In our latest ‘At home in the office with…’ series, he lifts the lid on his perfect working-from-home day and the things that make it not just bearable but enjoyable, too.
What led you to setting up curatd.?
We set up curatd. to help our clients adapt to working remotely during the pandemic. From the start of the lockdown there was an immediate requirement to supply WFH equipment. We already had a fantastic range of products to enable home workers but were lacking a platform to facilitate large volumes of retail style orders to home addresses. Initial orders were very admin heavy and we recognised that an e-commerce style solution would help streamline this.
What would you say are the key ingredients for a decent at-home work space?
In an ideal world, we’d all have a nice quiet home office in a separate room. In reality, many people don’t have the luxury of such a space. I would say the first ingredient is to minimise distractions as much as possible. Try to position your workspace where there is likely to be the least amount of noise - noise cancelling headphones are a good alternative if you don’t have access to a quiet spot. An ergonomic chair should be your first port of call in terms of equipment. You should lean on your employer to supply this as a minimum requirement.
What does your physical home working space set up look like?
I was lucky that my flatmate moved out around the start of the first lockdown in March. This meant I could turn his room into a home office, which has been a real stroke of luck. I’ve used the curatd. platform to equip myself with everything I need - I have an Albion X-lite sit stand desk and a Bestuhl J1 chair. IT-wise, I have my laptop, docking station, a big widescreen monitor and Humanscale monitor arm. Combined, it means my home setup is like-for-like with my office one – something we strive for with the curatd and TFP staff, too. As a business we look to invest in all our homeworkers’ equipment. They’re extremely busy and we don’t believe improper equipment should hinder their productivity at all.
What does an average day look like for you?
Thankfully, you’ve caught me at a good time where I’m being quite disciplined. Six months ago my answer would have been quite different. I typically get up, put on my gym kit and do some sort of workout. I’ve acquired a lot of random bits of home gym equipment in the past year which is useful. After that, I have breakfast, I answer emails and usually do a few meetings in the morning. I do more of my more focused work at the end of the day and in the evening when I find there are less distracting emails and calls coming in. I usually take a walk at lunch time to take in the local sights and maybe pick up a few essentials, too.
What’s the one piece of equipment you couldn’t work without?
I think my sit/stand desk has been a very positive addition to my life. I have always advocated their use when we were in the office but I use mine even more when I’m working from home. Before the pandemic I was doing around 15,000 steps every day, mostly in my commute alone. Now I’m lucky if I do 2,000 on a weekday. I find standing up a great replacement for the walking I would normally do daily. I normally end up pacing around in circles which I find helps me think and, of course, contributes to my step count.
Are there any rituals/ self care practices that have really helped you during this time?
I think keeping fit and healthy has been massively beneficial for both my mental and physical health. The first lockdown was more indulgent - less exercise and more food and drink. My energy levels are definitely higher now. I’ve started drinking a lot of tea too - possibly too much. It’s a minimum of six cups every day at the moment!
Which of these, if any, would you like to keep in your working life post-pandemic?
I’d like to keep up with my home fitness regime, although I’m looking forward to the gyms reopening too. I’d like to continue using video calls as well, as I think these have been so powerful during the past year. I still think face to face meetings will always be the best way to do business but where these aren’t possible, Zoom or Teams are a great alternative.
How do you curate your workspace for maximum concentration and creativity?
I try to keep my workspace tidy, which is hard for me as I am not really a naturally tidy person. I’ve tried to make it look nice too - I have a lot of plants, which I find quite calming and which aid my concentration (they say). Having the right equipment really helps too - I’m always looking for ways to upgrade my home office. It becomes quite addictive.
Which home office furniture would you say is worth splurging on and why?
A decent quality ergonomic chair should always be the first port of call. Assuming you are working at a desk for most of the day, it’s really important your body is properly supported. It should have castors (wheels), a tilt mechanism and adjustable arms at the very minimum. We hear too many stories of people with posture-related injuries from working on the wrong chair. Unfortunately, this is only going to get worse the longer these problems remain unaddressed.
What has been the biggest challenge of working from home?
I think focus is sometimes a challenge. Some days it’s easy to sit and work for hours, others I just can’t get into the rhythm I’m after. I try to overcome this by working more flexibly. If I can’t focus, I’ll just stop working and go and do something else for a while, then come back and make up the time when I’m able to focus better later. As I said earlier, I often find I’m most focused after-hours when the emails and calls stop coming and I’m able to focus on a single task. I also just miss the social aspect of the office - I’ve been working at The Furniture Practice for seven years so have plenty of good friends who I miss spending time with regularly.
…And the best thing about it?
I’ve loved having a bit more time in the mornings. I’m not really a morning person so being able to wake up a little later and work more flexibility has been a welcome change. Having a home office has allowed me to work at any hour which has made me much more efficient. I’ve enjoyed the novelty of working from home and it’s given me time to sort out my flat a bit more, too.
And, finally, what’s the greatest lesson that remote working has taught you?
I think like many I’ve learnt that a lot can be achieved at home. I’ve learnt to better understand when I work most effectively and when not. Like others I’ve been in a 9-5 type office routine for my whole working career. Being at home was a refreshing change, a chance to revaluate what works best for me and what doesn’t in terms of efficiency. Like most though, I’m desperate to return to some sort of normality. Hopefully with the best of both worlds moving forward.
Want to know more about how curatd. can help with your working from home needs? Take a look here.