After the long sunny days of summer and enjoyable spells on holiday, a return to work can feel loud, busy and often quite exhausting. So, it helps to return to a light, calm space which has been designed for our wellbeing. In addition to light, air and thermal quality being essential concepts to consider when it comes to creating spaces that promote productivity, sound and acoustic comfort are equally important.
Working from home is no longer considered a luxury. In fact, according to Statistica, it is “of crucial importance for employment decisions” these days. Now that remote working has become the new normal for many of us, we need to ensure our working environment is efficient and effective – a place that lets us be our best work-selves. Perhaps your garden shed is being transformed into a quiet office? Or you’re revamping your box-room to give it that ‘new office’ feel. Whatever your set-up may be, it’s important to create a space that motivates you and boosts your mood.
You also need to consider your exposure to unwanted noise, as the Quiet Mark National Noise Report revealed two thirds (66%) of UK 18-34 year olds would like a quieter home.
With products that combine innovative design and acoustic technology, Quiet Mark, the independent, international approval award program associated with the UK Noise Abatement Society Charitable foundation, offers a range of Home Office Essentials designed to enhance productivity by reducing disruptive noise levels.
Here’s a roundup of top 10 working from home essentials that aim to create a quieter and more focused working environment for everyone.
Shield Yourself From Noise & Distractions
Image: BuzziSpace BuzziWrap Desk Acoustic Panel
Minimise unwanted noise and visual distractions with a desk shield such as the BuzziSpace BuzziWrap Desk Acoustic Panel. It wraps around your desk, converting a plain worktop into a cocoon while hiding the typical cable clutter on the backside of your table. It’s easy to install, and thanks to its various sizes and fix positions, it can be attached to almost any existing desk. In combination with the colourful palate of BuzziFelt, it will brighten up your day in silence.
To get even more out of your workstation, make sure you keep some space clear. Nobody can work around clutter or ‘organised’ mess. Add some personal touches, create areas and use storage containers for your stationary.
Image: Jura Z10 Coffee Machine
If you find yourself asking if it’s coffee o’clock yet, you’ll be pleased to know that this popular beverage has more to it than meets the eye! A recent study by Nespresso Professional found 67% of UK employees agree they feel more productive after a coffee break, with a further 53% saying they’ve come up with a creative idea during their coffee break.
However, coffee machines are well known for producing a large range of sounds within the different stages of the brewing process. The solution lies in acoustic isolation, which basically means there is less noise being transferred to the outside structure of the machine – making it quieter than the rest.
Quiet Mark certified coffee machines will not only make the perfect cup of coffee, they will also do so on the quiet. The JURA Z10 coffee machine for example, prepares an entire range of hot products, from intense espresso to flat white. WiFi connection is a standard in the Z10, which lets you connect your smartphone to control the machine remotely and get that coffee ready for you before you get up from your desk.
Bring The Outside In
Image: BuzziSpace BuzziPlanter
Studies have shown houseplants to be good for our health and our psyche, so bringing nature into your home can help boost your happiness, creativity and focus.
Quiet Mark certified BuzziSpace BuzziPlanter adds an extra feature to that list. The upholstered colourful pot, made from high-density foam, has the acoustic superpower to absorb excessive noise in open spaces, creating healthier environments for people to thrive.
If you want a low-maintenance option, you can opt for biophilic wall murals or fun wallpaper prints. BuzziSpace BuzziMood Biophilic Acoustic Panels for example, has a lush, botanical appearance, which promotes a more relaxed and calm atmosphere, whilst BuzziSkin Printed Felt Acoustic Wallpaper brightens up corners and nooks with a pinch of creativity.
“Even having natural wood furniture in your home partnered with green accessories or wall paint can bring that outdoor feeling inside”, says interior designer Rebecca West. Quiet Mark certified WoodUpp Akupanel is an acoustic wooden slat wall panel which invites the beauty and calming essence of nature into homes and workplaces. Creating a new era of design, WoodUpp use sustainable materials to produce their products.
Stay Quietly Cool
Image: MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator
There’s nothing worse or more distracting than sitting in a hot office. You try to get the work done, but your concentration has physically left your body and there’s nothing much you can do about it.
Keeping your working environment at a comfortable temperature is vital for your health and productivity. In fact a study by Loughborough University found more than one billion workers across the globe experience heat stress at temperatures in excess of 35°C, which results in an average of 35% decrease in productivity throughout the workday. This goes up to a staggering 76% reduction when the thermometer reaches 40°C.
Quiet Mark certified fans are the quietest currently available on the market. The MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator for example combines market leading DC technology with a large airflow giving you a quiet, low energy fan that moves a large amount of air to keep you cool all summer long. If you want a quiet fan for the bedroom to help you sleep at night, a timer function gives you the option to programme when the fan will turn itself off so you don’t wake up cold in the middle of the night.
Take A Break In Your Quiet Sanctuary
Image: BuzziSpace BuzziSpark Soft Lounge Sofa with Acoustic Shelter
Selecting a place within your home to be your “quiet space” can make all the difference – especially when your home also doubles up as your office.
BuzziSpace offer a number of acoustic pouffes and chairs, made of upholstered foam and fabric to absorb sound and decrease echo and reverberation – all while adding a modern touch. The BuzziSpace BuzziSpark for example, invites you to relax into the comfort of an acoustic shelter. Its different layers of cushions and the thickness of the shields of this upholstered lounge seating, increase the absorbing properties. The entire cocoon soaks up sound waves, which results in more internal privacy and less background noise from the outside world.
Keep your “quiet space” clutter free to maintain a peaceful environment. According to Psychology Today, neuroscience research has found that too much clutter reduces productivity.
Make The Perfect Zoom-call Cuppa
Image: Dualit Pour Over Kettle
Taking a break to make a cuppa can work absolute wonders, especially when you’ve been staring at the screen for hours. The simple task of getting up from your desk, having a good stretch and walking to the kitchen can give you that much needed break your body genuinely requires. A tired mind is a less productive mind, so make sure you recognise the signs of burn-out.
Furthermore, research commissioned by the makers of the Quiet Mark certified Edge Low Steam Kettle by Breville, in partnership with The Mindfulness Project, found Brits need to let off steam at least 14 times a week, with Mondays between 3 and 4pm being the peak time for stress.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) recommends those working with display screen equipment, should “take short breaks often, rather than longer ones less often. For example 5 to 10 minutes every hour is better than 20 minutes every 2 hours.”
Kettles are notorious for being noisy, so to make your break as calming as possible, take a look at Quiet Mark certified kettles such as the Dualit Pour Over Kettle, which is ideal for using with drip through coffee makers or for when you need a precise brewing temperature. The temperature control can be altered by one degree at a time from 38°C to 100°C. The precision, curved, “gooseneck” spout allows for better reach and a more even flow of water.
Keep Calm And Purify
Image: Daikin MC55VB Air Purifier
We spend around 90% of our time indoors, yet indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outside. That’s because indoor air is made up of a concoction of particles including dust, mould, smoke, bacteria, viruses, VOCs and pet dander. Whether you work from home or the office, activities such as cooking and cleaning with chemicals, contribute to poor indoor air quality along with outdoor pollution from transport that makes its ways inside.
Air purifiers help reduce air pollution and in doing so, minimise allergy symptoms, neutralise unpleasant odours and keep your workspace cleaner.
Daikin air purifiers, such as the MC55VB, minimise asthma and allergy symptoms by removing dust particles, pollen and other allergens from your indoor air, helping to keep you healthy by filtering out airborne bacteria and viruses. This particular model has been designed for near-silent but powerful cleaning capability – all in a compact unit.
Stay Toasty Whilst You Work
Image: Duux Three Sixty Heater
As we start to plan for the colder months ahead, it’s impossible to forget about heating, especially with the cost-of-living crisis looming over our heads. On a cold winter day, it can be very tempting to work from your bed, although it probably isn’t practical and it’s definitely not great for your posture! Investing in a reliable portable heater that you can set up near your workspace will be a game changer for you and will ensure you are feeling comfortable from your usual spot.
The Duux ThreeSixty Heater for example, is a stylish, compact, innovative and affordable ceramic smart heater that offers the ultimate in personalised heating. Featuring a dynamic built-in fan, it balances power with efficiency to evenly distribute air, warming a 30m² room twice as fast as conventional heaters. With WIFI connectivity, smart app compatibility and adjustable temperature and ventilation settings, Threesixty features a tip-over safety switch and overheat protection for 24/7 heating.
Minimise Glare And Reduce Eye Strain
Image:Silent Gliss Motorised Roller Blind Systems
Having an office in your home would be ideal, but dining tables, kitchens and other rooms are still doubling up as workspaces.
Thinking about where you sit can make all the difference. While sunlight is welcome, sitting somewhere with the window behind you can cause excessive glare on your computer screen. Equally, sitting at your desk with the window in front of you can cause distractions and limited visibility when the sun is shining brightly.
According to Specsavers, eye strain issues have become particularly common since March 2020, with 1 in 3 people noticing a deterioration in their eyesight as a result of increased screen time during the pandemic.
By controlling natural light with roller blinds, you can significantly minimise glare and reduce eye strain. Silent Gliss motorised roller blinds for example, feature virtually silent operation, programmable intermediate stops and a built-in safety stop if the movement is interrupted. Their wide range of systems accommodate all blind sizes, weight and preferred control methods.
Set A Bedtime Routine
Image:Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB
According to the NHS, a healthy adult usually needs around 7 to 9 hours of sleep, but this also depends on age, health and personal circumstances. Making sure you have a good routine (and sticking to it) can have a significant impact on starting each day at peak productivity.
The Sleep Charity suggests most people generally need a quiet bedroom to sleep well, with noise tending to be most disruptive in the lighter stages of sleep but most damaging when it wakes us up from our deepest sleep.
According to Sound Sleep Medical, “light in the morning, even artificial light from a sunrise alarm, can help reset your circadian rhythm, and help your natural sleeping and waking cycle function optimally”.
The Quiet Mark certified Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB is the brand’s premium Bodyclock sleep/wake-up light. At bedtime, the sunset feature helps promote your body’s natural sleep response allowing you to drift off naturally. As your room gets dark, the light-sensitive display switches off to help you switch off fully. Then in the morning, the light mimics a real sunrise for a gentle and natural wake-up.
Quiet Mark is the international certification programme associated with the UK Noise Abatement Society charitable foundation (est. 1959). Conducting expert acoustic testing and verification of products Quiet Mark has over the past 10 years driven change in manufacturing worldwide to prioritise noise reduction within the design of everyday machines, appliances, technologies and house build materials, creating the first one-stop platform for third-party approved noise reduction solutions for every living space to health and well-being.
Through specialist acoustic measurement and product assessment, Quiet Mark identifies the quietest products in over 80 product categories giving consumers and trade buyers a more informed choice about the sound levels of the products they buy. The Quiet Mark scheme drives designers and manufacturers to reduce sound levels of their products enabling households and workplaces to rebalance the soundscape reducing stressful unwanted noise.