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Mumsnet users share their work from home experiences with IKEA

186 replies

JustineBMumsnet · 30/03/2020 14:56

This sponsored discussion is now closed.

School closures and social distancing mean that many of us will be working from home more than ever, and for those who have never done so before it can be a big culture shock. With that in mind, IKEA would like to hear your tips for working from home: whether that’s keeping your children occupied while you’re on a conference call, coping with no face-to-face interaction with your colleagues or how to repurpose a space into a makeshift office so that you can focus.

Here’s what Marie Tenglund, Interior Design Leader at IKEA has to say: “A good workspace for both yourself and your little ones are important. With smart planning, everybody in your family can have a comfortable, undisturbed space of their own to concentrate. One temporary workspace idea for your child could be to organize a trolley or a movable drawer unit with school books and stationery. Start the school day by moving it to the dining table where you can set up a workstation and tidy it away again when school day ends.
Taking some time out to play with the kids is important. Why not open a cafe, bake some cakes together or build the longest railroad? Whatever toys, crayons, and costumes you provide, fantasy will do the rest. Choo, choo - let the fun begin!”

Are you lucky enough to have the space for a dedicated home office? Or perhaps you’ve given a dining room or spare bedroom a dual purpose? How do you navigate working with your children in the house? Do you have ideas for making a home office space work for your entire family? Perhaps you have tips for maintaining your focus from home, by developing a home-based routine or getting a good start to each day?

Whatever your tips for working from home and creating a space that works for you, share with IKEA below to be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £300 IKEA voucher.

Thanks and good luck!


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Mumsnet users share their work from home experiences with IKEA
OP posts:
NineteenForever · 10/04/2020 12:38

Yes to lots of breaks. Have spent money on a suitable desk in the spare room as office computer is a desktop one, as I quickly realised this was not going to be over in 3 weeks.
My company allowed people to arange to collect their (good new,) office chairs for home use, I just collected my foot rest.
I ' commute' for 30 mins each morning by walking around the estate listening to radio 2 on my headphones.

ilovemyrednosedaymug · 10/04/2020 14:35

I am self employed so usually work at home 2-3 days a week anyway. I converted the garage to an office several years ago and because I have an employee, there are 2 desks, 2 computers etc. So seeing as it is just me and DD, we can easily work side by side all day every day.

DD follows the usual school hours including breaks. I do a daily quiz at 11am every day and stop and make a sandwich for lunch etc.

DD is 12yo and is happy to do her school work, a lot of it is online and you can't beat a real computer for some of it.

At the end of each day we go for a short walk.

So far so good, we are not cabin crazy yet

thingywotsit · 10/04/2020 15:33

I work from home regularly and have an office/sewing/craft room. Now there's two of us working from home DH has taken the office and I'm using the dinning room table. It makes life easier when we can shut the door whilst we're both having conference calls.

More often than not my working day ends at 2pm. So the kids do their work in the morning with both DH and I then I take over in the afternoon.

We've already had a move around in the office to make it a nicer space to be (I didn't mind the chaos). There's now a large rug to cover the concrete floor and less Billy bookcases. When the shops are open again we'll be buying a new desk as the one we currently have has seen better days and finally get a carpet fitted.

We're taking it day by day and generally winging it,but so far there's been no disasters. The kids are happy and DH has found a new love of working from home, and as an added bonus he finally understands what I do for a job!

MrsLeclerc · 10/04/2020 19:07

DH is a key worker but working from home 9-5 and I’m splitting my part time hours over 5 days to make them all up. And we have a 19 month old!

My desk is our dining table in the corner of the living room. I work from 6.30 to 9am while DH sorts the morning routine. I often have a little visitor befor he’s wrangled into his high chair and then I work to the calming sounds of Mr Tumble! DH is set up on my dressing table as he takes phone calls all day so need the quiet (and my PC takes over all of our dining table).

Then I take over childcare until nap time when I can get another hour or so done in peace. If I’m lucky I can finish a cuppa before he wakes up. If DH gets his lunch assigned around the start of nap time, he’ll put him to bed so I can start work.

At 4.30 I get him set up with a big cardboard box and crayons or the washing basket and lots or socks and small items he can sort. This normally buys me enough time to make dinner before DH finishes work and we sit down to dinner.

It does feel like we’re working 2 jobs and have much less down time than we used to. It’s hard and we’re still learning what works for us but there are millions of us all facing our own versions of the same struggles.

sharond101 · 10/04/2020 19:19

Get up before everyone else and get an hour or two in then settle the kids with breakfast and colouring/dot to dots/play doh etc and cram another hour. Play with them for a bit then another hour. Get outdoors and run around with kids then another hour. Video call Gran & Papa who babysit via videolink and get another hour in. Work when they go to bed. It's hard work!

Another888 · 10/04/2020 22:30

I set an alarm to remind myself to do a five minute burst of activity every hour, to prevent myself from getting sluggish.
If I'm working in the evening I'll use lamps instead of the main light, for me this reduces eye strain.

123bananas · 11/04/2020 01:27

Are you lucky enough to have the space for a dedicated home office?

No we use the dining table for the children which sits next to Ivar book shelves on which all the materials they need for learning sit.

DH has a computer desk on wheels under the stairs which can pull out.

How do you navigate working with your children in the house?

I try to work in the bedroom whilst they play as it reduces noise and distraction.

Do you have ideas for making a home office space work for your entire family?

Yes we did have a bigger IKEA desk in the living room before that managed to fit two PC's side by side so that we could supervise online homework for the children whilst working ourselves.

Perhaps you have tips for maintaining your focus from home, by developing a home-based routine or getting a good start to each day?

Be flexible around the needs of the day and treat any day of the week as a learning day not just Monday to Friday if that gives more time to provide learning support to the children.

On the days I am at home I try to get the children's work done early so that I can concentrate on what I need to do whilst they have down time afterwards.

I have recently finished studying alongside working 50 hours a week. I found that I was more focused and productive once the kids were in bed and my mind wasn't having to focus on making sure they were ok. Night working requires good lighting.

Quietvoiceplease · 11/04/2020 05:47

We are blessed with having a fair bit of space in our house and am mindful that solutions are much easier when not all crammed together. So the children have their own bedrooms with a desk, where they 'home school' - lessons are set online (they are all secondary) and they have to complete tasks as though it were a normal school day. During term time we only saw them for 'break times' and when one of them had a question, as timing was quite tight.
We also have a spare room with a desk which is great, but of course two of us needing space to work. So I have commandeered my sturdy Ikea desk (it's a very sturdy wooden top with thick metal legs that screw in: looks great, excellent size and, crucially, packs away (its normally a handy extra table for Christmas). Office chair from work, an old anglepoise lamp and we're away: a corner of our loft bedroom is now my study.
My office is functional rather than decorative as it is intended to be temporary. Our home office has lovely floating shelves for all our books, magazine holders for all our detritus, and a day bed (Ikea hemnes - honestly best bed ever) with huge storage drawers for all the craft materials. The key to both is to be able to separate from it at the end of the day in order to prevent never being entirely 'off work'.

Lifesbetterwithwine · 11/04/2020 11:22

We have got an office at home which doubles up as an airing cupboard and general dumping ground. It is fondly known as the ‘sh*t room’ but does have a proper desk, office chair, printer etc. My OH works in there and tries to stick to his former normal office hours, taking a lunch break at the usual time to come and sit in the garden. He’s had to organise the towels and crap behind him so it looks a bit better for video calls. Grin I have some work to do at home and tend to manage that on my laptop in the living room. My daughter is completing her first university year at home and has tutorials and group meeting via video chat in her bedroom.

unlimiteddilutingjuice · 11/04/2020 12:13

Are you lucky enough to have the space for a dedicated home office?
Or perhaps you’ve given a dining room or spare bedroom a dual purpose?
Dining room? Spare bedroom?! Ahahahha! No.
Lap top in bed, mate.
How do you navigate working with your children in the house?
I make them breakfast in the morning, then i return to my bedroom and lock the door on them. I work on my laptop in bed and come down to cook lunch. We do homeschool and play in the afternoon.

goldenretriever1978 · 11/04/2020 19:25

Have a work space separate from where you sleep and have no work things in the bedroom would be my tip as it helps to switch off from work. I do believe that most people with kids are not lucky enough to have their own office.

Bitterglitter · 11/04/2020 21:06

I am really lucky, my office is separated from the kids playroom by a glass partition wall, so I can see what they get up to. They're 3 and 5, boys, best friends/worst enemies, so need occasional intervention when the little fists start flying. Other than that, my tip is a really quality pair of noise cancelling headphones and repeated enforcement of the no children in mummies office rule.

SeasonallySnowyPeasant · 11/04/2020 22:37

I’ve been working at the breakfast bar while the kids have the dining room table and DP has the computer desk in the living room - all open-plan. It’s worked fairly well in that we’re able to supervise the DC without being all on top of each other. The DC are old enough to know to be quiet when I’m on a call.

I set up a timetable once I knew the schools were closing. I think it’s really important for us all to have structure and a clear distinction between work/school and home. It’s been tough but worth it to see the kids settled and secure.

I’ve set up regular meetings with my team and invoked the buddy system for the duration. On the buddy calls it’s just a chat and a catch-up like we would do on a tea break. Seems to be working well!

MrsFrTedCrilly · 12/04/2020 07:37

We are luck enough to have a study so it all happens on shifts in there. One of us parents and occupies the DC whilst the other does grown up stuff in peace and quiet. Having separate boxes with our stuff in helps keep us organised.

lillypopdaisyduke · 12/04/2020 09:54

Are you lucky enough to have the space for a dedicated home office?

I didn't before the lock down, but have have borrowed my sons Malm desk and Millberget chair for my laptop and spare screen which I have set up as a work space.

Or perhaps you’ve given a dining room or spare bedroom a dual purpose?

Yes, the box room,

How do you navigate working with your children in the house?

My husband has been furloughed so whilst I put a few hours in he is homeschooling, even does the Joe Wickes pe lessons in the morning. I have reduced my hours from 37 to 30 over the lockdown so i can do 5 short days (3 hours per session) so I can spend time with the family.

Do you have ideas for making a home office space work for your entire family?

An adjustable chair, good lighting, I'd love the Bekant standing desk to make the WFH more back friendly, I would need shelves for the paperwork and maybe a SVENSÅS for the wall.

Perhaps you have tips for maintaining your focus from home, by developing a home-based routine or getting a good start to each day?

Eat and have a drink before starting so you can concentrate, set a timetable, arrange meetings a few days in advance to accommodate others who are WFH, have breaks - look after your mental health as if you are working solo with no interaction for hours on end, you need some respite. Use the skype and emails to interact with your work colleagues.

StCharlotte · 12/04/2020 09:57

Are you lucky enough to have the space for a dedicated home office?

Not as such but there's a return on our landing where we have room for a ladder style desk with our desktop PC, on which work have installed a VPN. Once I knew I'd be working from home I ordered a desk chair.

How do you navigate working with your children in the house?

This is one of those rare occasions where I am hugely relieved not to have children and I am in awe of parents dealing with all this.

Perhaps you have tips for maintaining your focus from home, by developing a home-based routine or getting a good start to each day?

I've never worked from home before (it's not ideal for my role). I was determined to stick to my routine so I still get up and shower. Give my hair a quick blast. Put on some mascara and lippy. Wear work clothes. And do my usual 9-5 hours. Nearly a month in and it seems to be working so far.

I can't wait to get back to the office but I must say spending my lunch hour in my sunny garden chatting to my husband has been infinitely more enjoyable than sitting at my desk.

LittenKitten · 12/04/2020 10:00

Noise cancelling headphones! Great for when one of you needs to concentrate (and there’s another adult who can listen out for DC needing anything.)

RedLentilYellowLentil · 12/04/2020 16:16

I normally really laugh at threads where everyone is falling over themselves to name products by the sponsor, but in this case Ikea has really saved our bacon. I often work from home anyway and have an Ikea bistro table set up in one corner of the kitchen, which can also be used casually for eating/having a cup of tea when I'm not working at it and moved into the garden if the weather's nice. My partner usually works in a rented office and is at home instead now, and we also have two kids home from school and one home from uni, all of whom need somewhere to work and set up laptops for video conferencing. My partner has a couple of Ikea tables in his office, which we broke down and brought home when it became clear everyone would have to stay at home for a period, so we've set those up in the kids' rooms temporarily and everyone now has a tidy, quiet place to work at any given time. We also have a high stool from Ikea that a laptop can go on when they do skype instrument lessons. All of this stuff was cheap, and the fact that you can break it down and reassemble it wherever it's needed has been so helpful. It's school holidays atm of course, but during term time we try to get as much work done in the morning as we can, and then do something fun in the afternoon if possible. I'm not gonna lie, I love having everyone at home. It won't be many more years before they've all left for good and I want to look back at this summer as a special one, not an awful one.

bitheby · 12/04/2020 19:05

I'm autistic and struggle to keep on top of the housework at the best of times. I also work in the NHS as a manager and so it's been incredibly busy at work due to Covid-19 so I'm exhausted after a day of work and don't have the focus for tidying and sorting.

To be honest, I don't have a good home working space because I have too much clutter.

I'd be the last person to ask for tips because I'm so hopeless at creating a harmonious working environment at home.

My only tip for joke working is to be outside as much as possible. That helps me so I can ignore the chaos in the house! I need IKEA to sort me out...

bitheby · 12/04/2020 19:06

That'll be *home working but it feels like joke working sometimes 😂

Sadie687 · 12/04/2020 20:47

Set up sensory activities for younger children to keep them busy/help you get some work done. Make a space in your work area for them to play and work on their own jobs. Little books (paper stapled together for them to write in, they can write a shopping list, thank you letters to key workers and grandparents, friend etc. You can take a picture of them and pass on to the recipients. They can draw an obstacle course that you could chalk outside later on and pictured to decorate your work area to make it more homely.

A box with a small amount of water and kitchen utensils to scoop things up and out (have an empty box next to it for his purpose). Also add food colouring, bubble wands, funnels, water droppers, different size plastic cups for pouring. You can put bubbles in there and blocks for building, make a castle in the sky above the clouds!

If you can spare some small amounts of pasta and rice can be coloured for sensory play, hiding little toys inside and using spoons and cake wrappers to fill with sand. You can also put cars or other toys in there. Smile

Bee70 · 12/04/2020 20:51

We are both working from home, and we take turns looking after the kids while the other is in zoom meetings or on the phone. I try to find enough activities/ homeschooling to keep them busy during the day, but make sure that we all spend meal times together and reward the kids for letting us get on with work. Ultimately though, we have learnt to relax and accept that we aren't going to be as productive as we normally are, and to appreciate this extra time we get to spend with the kids

Serin · 12/04/2020 22:53

Unfortunately the covid lockdown hit us mid way through a kitchen/dining room extension so our home is now a bit of a building site.
DH is a teacher and is teaching all his lessons over the internet from the kitchen table.
I'm a community health professional and am seeing patients but am not allowed into our tiny office. Our team have laptops, mobile phones and trackers so we are well equipped for agile working.
We have 3 older teenagers/young adults home for lockdown, all competing for space (and snacks). We are lucky that the weather has been kind as they are studying outside and one has even set up a workspace in the greenhouse Grin using greenhouse staging!!
I think the big tent may get set up soon.
Noise cancelling headphones are a godsend but even so the playing of brass instruments has been temporarily banned. Wink

RomaineCalm · 13/04/2020 00:00

I'm lucky enough to have my own office at home as I usually WFH a couple of days a week anyway. It makes a huge difference being able to have everything to hand and also to be able to shut the door at the end of the day.

I do struggle with storage though and have years and years of work stuff that I never quite get rid of. Definitely a case for doing regular shredding and not keeping documents 'just in case'.

GloGirl · 13/04/2020 14:27

I have found it useful to consider what times I am using my home office as life has changed a little bit. I tend to use it later in the day so it has a little stash of fizzy drink cans i can grab easy. I also check in just before bed so i have my nighttime medication at the desk as well.

A good chair is really important, as is light. So i have an Ikea lamp.

Some artwork from the kids to bring a little bit of colour is nice. I keep the background clear for Zoom.

Tiny bit of background music, when I'm really concentrating I use binaural beats.

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