Sharing your work space can inspire you in ways you never imagined. Meeting new people, making contacts and the infectious buzz that comes from working alongside people can all strengthen your business.
Of course some people prefer to work on their own from home. We've spoken to some freelancers about how they set up their work spaces to keep them inspired and working effectively.
Before we dive into these shared experiences, we talk to expert Colin McAndrew, Director of COLHR, about setting up workspaces:
Colin says there are three main things to consider when setting up your workstation:
- The Environment – Your location needs to be quiet and comfortable (not too hot or cold), have the right lighting (no bright sun on the screen or the person using it), contain enough space to accommodate the furniture and any extra equipment while still giving you room to move about.
- The Equipment – Your equipment - particularly electrical items -should be fit for purpose and in a safe condition. The desk should be at a comfortable height and the chair adjustable to ensure good lumbar support and positioning of the arms and wrists for keyboard/mouse use. Your screen should be at eye level so you can read the screen simply by moving your eyes and without having to look up or down.
- The Person – Ensure you’re familiar with the HSE guidance on how to set up your work station correctly, the guidance is available free on the HSE website. Remember to take frequent breaks from the workstation to allow your muscles and eyes to relax. Short, frequent breaks are preferable as it’s better to prevent any aches and pains than to recover from them.
So once you’ve got the basics sorted and your ergonomics just right, how do you make sure your workspace is a stylish, creative place to be?
We asked freelancers working from home and at coworking space Rentadesk based in London Bloomsbury, how they've made their workspaces inspiring:
Kary Fisher, 40 is a graphic designer and Creative Director of the Talented Ladies Club
She says: ‘I've been a graphic designer for 16 years. I work from home and am lucky to have a completely separate home office on the ground floor of our Victorian house in Worthing.
‘It overlooks the garden and has French doors so I can always see daylight which I find really important.
‘My partner made a triangular desk which fits perfectly into the corner of the room and I covered the wall with wallpaper and shelves.
‘I surround myself with as many bright things as possible and looking around at the pots, sculptures, letterpress blocks and buttons I have around me really helps inspire me with my designs.
‘Sometimes by looking around me, I’ll see a new combination of colours – a mug against some flowers with the wallpaper in the background - that I hadn't thought of putting together before and it’ll help me with the website. And I move things around every couple of months to keep things fresh and stay inspired.’
Louise Hall, 36, is an interior designer and writer at Buzz Features
She says: ‘My home office is a garden studio in West London. It was purpose-built by London Garden Studio's talented Marc Salamon, who I found after seeing an article on the simple, light-filled structure that he built for another client.
‘I wanted to create a light-filled work space (to enable me to work from home and be there full-time with our two-year-old son.
‘I love the extra dimension that the studio brings to home work–living; that I can work largely undisturbed listening to my son playing in the garden or see him playing with our nanny in the kitchen.
‘The interior is white and light-filled and the surfaces are light oak. Behind the desk an antique mirror refracts the natural light around the room.
‘The studio is fitted with a sink, hot water, electricity, WiFi and a landline. It has an electric radiator and is very well insulated so it’s perfect for working in comfort.’
Rachael Dines, 34, is a Freelance Marketing Consultant
Rachel says: ‘My home-working space is shared with my husband as he frequently works from our house in West Sussex too.
‘Known as the 'play room' it’s painted in blues and greens with a bold blue carpet and various coloured toy storage drawers.
‘There’s a big bay window, which lets in a lot of light and up on the wall at one end, we have the word 'PLAY' in coloured letters and at the other 'WORK'.
‘There are two desks, files and the printer/scanner in the work area and huge variety of toys and books in the play area.
‘And if I end up surrounded by dinosaurs, balls and lego, it serves as a reminder that I went freelance to enable me to be a mum and also that I’m a better mum because I work.
‘The bright space keeps me inspired to serve my clients well and stay passionate to win new business.’
Rebi Merilion, 47, is a co-director of Mrs Robinson Management, a modelling agency specialising in models over 25.
Rebi says: ‘I used to work for an agency but I decided to leave and set up Mrs Robinson last October instead.
‘My partner Fleur and I started off working from her bedsit. It was just a bed, a sofa, a desk and us!
‘We coped for a little while but we needed something more comfortable and looked round lots of different freelance offices before we chose Rentadesk's coworking space in Bloomsbury..
‘The office is lighter and quieter here at Artist House and there’s a really nice atmosphere. You feel like you belong to something and everyone helps each other out.
‘In terms of our actual desk area, we've been lucky enough to negotiate a fixed desk space so we don't have to hot desk.
‘It was important to us to personalise the space a bit so we covered our wall with Gripping Stuff – a kind of film that allows you to stick things onto it without pulling any paint off the walls.
‘Then we stuck up all our models’ cards – the information they take around with them to castings and meetings – with their pictures on. It helps to have a good visual idea of everyone we work with and it’s nice to have a bit of an identity within the office too.
‘We chose a bright red for the wall as it makes the models’ faces stand out and packs a really nice punch.
‘As well as the wall, we have our special ‘Lucky Cat’ that my husband bought us as the company’s first Christmas present. He helps drive new business in our direction!
‘And we have a little Buddha too that helps us feel a bit calmer and more ‘centred’ in times of stress.
‘We make sure to have some nice flowers – daisies or gerberas – from time to time too as it makes the area a bit cheerier. I think it does help you work better if your desk looks good.’
Navin Chandak, 33, is an IT consultant, specialising in app development and excel based projects at Mach 47 Productions.
Navin says: ‘I started out at Rentadesk at the weekends while I still had a full-time job.
‘So when I decided to take the plunge and work for myself in October 2012, it was the obvious place to base myself.
‘I loved the fact that the office is so light and that you can have access 24/7 if you need it.
‘I have a fixed desk at Golden House and I really liked how everything was set up so I didn’t need to do much.
‘I'm a big fan of natural light and my work area means that I get a lot of that flooding in which makes me feel good and helps me work effectively.
‘The main personal touch that I added was a framed photo of my dog Aparna – labrador, pomeranian cross - when she was a puppy. She’s four and a half now and is really cute to look at.
‘I work with two computer screens and I'm always changing the wallpaper on those to pictures of me with my family and holiday snaps.
‘I figure your day is 99% working with about 1% downtime so it’s nice to look at something that makes you smile when you're taking a break.’
Pierre Smith Khanna, 25, is a Project and Operations Manager at Connell Guides, a company producing guides to works of literature. Pierre says:
'We founded the company three years ago and it was launched commercially eight months ago. We had another office but found that Rentadesk Artist House had a much better atmosphere and environment.
'The fact it’s located right in the centre of London really helps too. Being able to meet and talk to other, interesting people around me is very important.
'Rentadesk has a great diversity of people sharing the space all of which are interesting and inspiring to talk to. Moreover, the office has managed to create a very friendly culture in which people are happy to help each other out and give others advice - something you won't find in many corporate environments. I suppose this is due to the fact that many people at Rentadesk are in the same boat - i.e. starting their business, and being passionate about what they do.
'I confess we haven't done much to customise our actual workspace. The office looks really good and has lots of modern white furniture – lots of stuff from Tiger and Ikea, which makes the place look clean and tidy. For me, the desk isn't what’s important, it’s all about the atmosphere.'
We asked more Rentadesk members about the one thing they do to make their workspace better…
Here’s what they said:
So how do you create an inspiring work space for yourself? Let us know in the comments below.
The Rentadesk co-working community helps Freelancers, Independent workers, and Entrepreneurs build their dream business in a fun, inspirational environment, surrounded by like-minded individuals. Check out if Rentadesk is right for you.