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Mumsnet users share their work from home experiences with IKEA

186 replies

JustineBMumsnet · 30/03/2020 14:56

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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:
AgentCooper · 13/04/2020 14:34

I’m wfh 3 days per week (university administrator) and my DH is wfh 5 days (financial services). We have a very lively 2.5 year old so it’s bloody hard! DH uses the desk and desktop computer in the attic and I use a laptop in our bedroom (due to WiFi constraints). I set it up on my dressing table and it’s actually a decent wee spot! It’s a lovely, light room which faces onto the street so I don’t feel too alone. I could do with a decent chair though, as my dressing table one is no match for my specially fitted comfy one at work Sad

Because DH’s job is much busier than mine and he’s the main breadwinner I’m doing pretty much all the childcare and snatching bits of time where I can, often at weekends or after DS is asleep. It’s very hard and I would definitely not want to continue longterm, but I do find having a nice room to work in, a lovely mug for my tea and a wee plant makes it a space I actually quite like retreating to after a full day of full on DS!

MeMeMeYou · 13/04/2020 20:38

If you do have a teeny little space enough for an office table, you need an ikea swivelly chair. My husband’s working from home experience has been much better for it.

I save my kids screen time for when I have important phone calls or google hangout meetings as I know they’ll leave me in peace then. Screen free time equals quarrels and I’m bored, so that time falls when I’m able to stop and start my work

ainsisoisje · 16/04/2020 08:29

Have a separate area for down time and breaks from work. Make that space cosy and nice so you feel you are getting away from the 'office'. The bedroom is currently the office and the lounge provides 5-10 minutes of escape when I need a screen break.

Fespital · 16/04/2020 20:15

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

We were in the process of buying a house with just that but obviously it's ground to a halt Sad

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

So it's me, DH and 2 DC at the dining table.

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

I organise set tasks for them at the start of the day. Then answer any questions whilst sat next to them.

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

The home office space we would have had would have had room for all 4 of us at a squeeze or we could have taken turns rather than have to decamp to the bedroom for peace and quiet!

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

Definitely worth having a rough routine/schedule sketched out, with massive room for flex. Planning the English and maths using workbooks then project based afternoon work for science, geography, history etc.

MollyBloomYes · 16/04/2020 20:54

I'm very fortunate to be in a lockdown with (young!) grandparents. I can't imagine trying to work from home full time with a 4 year old and 5 year old!
We have two work spaces as my mum already works the majority of the week at home so there's her fabulous home office upstairs (all kitted out in Ikea as it happens, particularly Kallax!) and then there's the dining room downstairs where I work. It's definitely not as comfy and I really miss having a proper office chair but there is a lot of room to spread out and set up some of the equipment I need. Dining room also doubles as the 'home school room' and as that's my department it makes sense to have that space serve both purposes.

What we've found has worked really well is carving out the day on a rota of work time and child time. We also play to our strengths: my mum is great at crafting and baking type activities, I'm a former primary school teacher so doing all the more traditional academics like phonics, reading, maths, science and some sort of topic and my dad is excellent for outside play/horsing around/enlisting them as tiny apprentices to whatever bit of house or garden maintenance he happens to be doing! They're with mum in the morning while dad and I work, I do lunch then a chunk of home Ed, then dad takes over in the afternoon as he starts early and finishes early with his work. I'm contracted to the most hours and this way I can fulfil them whilst also being able to spend some time with my children. I know that friends who have husbands are taking similar rota approaches and it works well.

Office/classroom space: I'm set up at one end of the dining room, the kids' stuff is down the other end. We do worksheets, project books, reading, apps and websites on tablets or laptop and generally try to keep brains ticking over so they don't forget everything when they go back! All finished work goes into their 'tray' (cardboard lid they've decorated and named) and I'll bundle all this together to give to teachers after some careful editing, particularly my youngest who is quite a prolific artist! I'm also taking pictures to create a bit of a scrapbook to take into school and the school also has a dedicated home learning email address that I can send in videos to.
I'm actually really enjoying working and teaching at home, it's nice not to be tied down by curriculum and go with their interests and we're gradually adding more pictures or key information (eg number bonds) to a washing line strung across the dining room window. I'll probably add another one soon or fashion one across the ceiling. I'd also like to get a pinboard to display more things on as they seem to really enjoy seeing all the different things we've been discussing or that they've been working on.
Although I miss the social aspect of my office I love the focus working on my own gives me. If I could I'd definitely have a comfier chair and a dedicated desk area with all stationery in drawers and accessible and a printer I don't have to traipse up and down the stairs to every time I want something! However, the dining room table is working well for me and I've been amazed at how quickly the kids have recognised that when the dining room door is shut they're not to come in.
We don't just do paper work, there's also the trampoline in the garden for when they need to have a bit of a brain break (especially the oldest who is autistic) and they're both fiends for Lego so some afternoons we plan out all sorts of elaborate constructions. My mum has also this week been making an animated film with them using the Lego people which they've LOVED, starting with a plan of a story, then story boarding it, building what pieces they'd need, deciding on background's been a brilliant little project. And of course there's 'tablet time' where they can minecraft or YouTube to their hearts content because everybody needs a break sometimes (it's such a nice quiet time of the day, headphones must be worn on the tablet at all times!) We also start each day with a walk in the fields across from us which is fab for waking me up and getting me ready to focus-I really wish this could continue when we all go back to school or work but I imagine the school run mania will probably make it impossible. I'll probably replace this walk with Cosmic Kids on YouTube if the weather turns naff. I've heard enough about the Joe Wicks workouts to know that this is not something I'll be attempting as I like my thighs to be pain free
I'll stop there because it's all a bit nauseating and people probably hate me but I'm very lucky to have supportive parents. My children are normally absolutely feral so it's been a pleasant surprise that they've taken to lockdown life so well. I hope very much it continues and I'm not a gibbering wreck by the end of it as they rediscover their more typical bulldozer approach to life Wink

schy28 · 17/04/2020 19:03

We live in a house with my in-laws where in total 3 kids live. Two of them go to school and another one is under school going age.
We do not have adequate spaces for all of us so try to make the best use of the spaces we have.
My husband uses the study desk of his cousin to do his work. Things that he needs I.e laptop, calculator, pen and paper everything is in there and he starts working early before kids wake up to be ahead. During calls he close the door of the room and I look after the kids so he does not get interrupted.
My uncle in law uses the space of dinner table. He always sits on the same side with his laptop and portable printer when he works and remove the staff once finishes his work.
When the sun comes out kids spend a lot of time in the garden and after lunch they take a nap. And they study after waking up by then adults are done with their house work.
We do not have any television in the hose and screen time for kids are very limited. We try to occupy them with painting, solving puzzles, blocks, Lego etc. They use the space we have in our sitting room.
We also try to involve them in simple daily household chores such as tidying their toys after play, piling the cloths before putting them in wardrobe, helping us in the kitchen while baking and so on.
It’s not easy to work from home and look after the kids at the same time. But if we can organise ourselves and keep the kids busy with things that is fun and good for their future developments as well I believe it’s doable.
For the very first time we are spending most of our time together as there is no going out to work and school. Why not trying to make this experience worth remembering!

Likethebattle · 17/04/2020 19:51

We actually have the Ikea hemnes desk and office hair set up in the spare room. It’s got loads of space and plenty of drawer and cupboard areas to store things. I’ve been evicted as husband is using the spare room as he has to I use a desktop system and I have a laptop. I’d recommend the hemnes desk if you need a desk in the house.

StickChildNumberTwo · 18/04/2020 18:00

We're fortunate in that I work from home anyway so have a dedicated study and my husband has a desk in the spare room. We're needing to communicate well about who needs to be undisturbed when to try and avoid kids walking in on conference calls. It's a challenge sometimes getting my husband to remember that yes I work too (albeit part time) and so on my working days he does need to take some of the responsibility for the kids....

Clo12 · 19/04/2020 08:10

I live in a studio flat, we were just exchanging on a new build house before the development shut! I’m 6 months pregnant and working full time from home in the kitchen area which is also the sleeping, lounging area. This week will mark the start of my 5th week working from my laptop at my IKEA Melltrop table. Last week I gave in and had to go into the office to collect my office chair, laptop station and keyboard as the prospect of at least 8 more weeks of being hunched over my laptop my back and neck were screaming. If we get to move to our new house anytime soon I will have a spare room to work from, away from all the food and tv distractions!! With a desk and proper set up more like a work environment, I look forward to shutting the door after work and resuming home life as at the moment it has merged into one continuous cycle. fingers crossed they open the development site soon!

DonLewis · 19/04/2020 08:25

I've actually been browsing IKEA to find a solution to this. Both me and ds are working at the dining room table, which is no good when I have a Skype call! I like the idea of the moveable trolley. Off to browse some more!

TolstoyAteMyHamster · 19/04/2020 08:34

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

Yes. Although it does not have the set up I have at work (double screen, standing desk etc). I have bought a better chair as it was becoming a problem. Also from next week it won’t be feasible to use it much as the DC will be having video lessons some days and for safeguarding reasons those are meant to be in a room with an adult around.

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

Mine are old enough to be reasonably self sufficient but I get up early and do about 90 minutes before they get up so that I have time during the day to check in on them. I keep lunch free in my calendar so we can eat together and they know if I have headphones on that I am on a call and they should try not to disturb me.

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

That isn’t really feasible, but I’m trying to find a way for the youngest to be in the home office with me at least some of the time. We look at his timetable in the morning and work out where he is going to do each lesson.

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 am finding the inefficiency of everything means I have to focus as everything takes longer and so I don’t have time to procrastinate. I am trying to have 30 minutes of just getting organised at the end of the day - making a list, checking my calendar for the next day etc, so when I start I know what I am doing. It’s really hard, though. I miss the office and my colleagues very much.

WutheringBites · 19/04/2020 20:22

I have a small set of wooden IKEA desk drawers that I put my laptop on; with a plug in keyboard - meaning my laptop camera doesn't look up my nose - handy for Skype meetings!
A decent desk lamp helps for working at funny times when it's darker and the children are asleep.
and I have a desk in an alcove in the hall, so I can see and hear the children in the rest of the house if I need to do some work at short notice.

fishnships · 19/04/2020 20:29

A tiny bedroom now designated as a study with a folding screen to hide the mess!

Furzedownfolly · 19/04/2020 23:23

My original plan for how to structure our day fell apart by about 11am on day one! All of us getting on with our respective work around the dining table, break time, lunch.... oh was fun... it was not! No-one could concentrate and it became clear this was not going to work.

We take it in turns with work in the dining area but have both had to be more flexible as all of our sanity is the priority.

My husband works mornings and so that's not my work time, our son does school work in the mornings and I do jobs and help as needed, mid morning break and we have a later lunch for us all to eat together. Afternoons are for music, drawing, playing so we rotate who's working then evenings are when I work.

Our looser routine is far from perfect but everyone's happier than trying to drag schoolwork out until 3.30. Working evenings is not ideal but it avoids the frustrating feeling of not getting things done and it's just made us be more creative with our approaches as we can't all have it all so either things get done at different times or something has to give.

Whilst I obviously wouldn't want this forever, I am now getting more done by not spending time taxi-ing to and fro from clubs etc. so if nothing else, I've realised some of the stress of feeling 'busy' is self-induced by arranging too many activities for everyone so that's something I can change in the future.

Arriaga · 19/04/2020 23:26

I normally work from home in the kitchen as there's more space but since lockdown I have moved into the box-room which is our study as my kids/TV is too distracting. My tips include being organised and having everything to hand, having a list of what needs to be done for that day (and allocating time frame for each task) and making sure the chair/desk is comfortable as otherwise I get back ache. Also have to remember to take regular breaks as I do in the office to avoid eye strain looking at the screen for extended periods.

SillyMoomin · 20/04/2020 16:21

Not really got an official space, so DH has taken over half of the Dining table. If this continues for much longer we’ll probably have to change the table completely, make it one for 4 people rather than the 8 seated we currently have, as let’s face it, no ones coming round for dinner parties at the moment!, and put a small desk in the corner of the room.

Would ideally like something that’s not too “office”esque, but looks like it could almost be a sideboard or something

TellMeItsNotTrue · 20/04/2020 17:00

Having a dedicated space helps to signal that you are working and shouldn't be disturbed, but it depends on the age of the DC

CormoranStrike · 20/04/2020 17:24

Are you lucky enough to have the space for a dedicated home office? I do have now; I had been using the dining table, but bought and Ikea desk and drawers to fit under the stairs in the hallway. It’s perfect! I’d never have thought of it ore lockdown.

Or perhaps you’ve given a dining room or spare bedroom a dual purpose? Briefly yes, but it’s so bad for your posture!

How do you navigate working with your children in the house? My kids do live at home but are both key workers, so rarely in at the same time as me.

Do you have ideas for making a home office space work for your entire family? Try not to have it in the main family room of the house - that was you can close the door on your office at the end of the day.

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 start early and go for a walk after work, a good sixty minute gap.

Wargghhhh · 20/04/2020 18:13

We have quite a structure.

Kids up at a set time and getting on with school work - I'm in the lounge working flexibly, husband is in the office a bit less flexible with this job so better to be shut away!

I'm on hand to help with the kids (they both work up in their rooms separately - they'd fight if they were downstairs together).

Our daughter uses her dressing table as a desk and son uses a small Ikea table and chair. We try and keep them up in their rooms so communicate via mobile or Skype, at least just for the morning - lets us get on with our work a bit better if we're not constantly being interrupted. We also encourage them to seek help from their friends if they are stuck on tasks - they're 10 and 12 so slightly easier age to manage!

We always have lunch together and go for a walk, and do have some of the day doing a fun task like baking or crafting.

We have a deal that if they get on with the day and do their work then come late afternoon they can have their 'tech time' whilst we crack on with making tea etc and doing a bit of housework.

The routines are really helping us as the kids know what to expect.

dadshere · 22/04/2020 11:18

We converted dd's playroom into an office, where I can work and she can do her school work. DH works from the kitchen! We try and stick to a routine with me helping dd in the morning and dh taking over after lunch. It is not perfect but works more or less.

BuryBury · 23/04/2020 11:05

I have office upstairs next to the toilet , used to be junk room . I have a letter box on office door so children can still talk to me I case of emergency and they sometimes put their art work through it . Hard getting work done with kids about when putting IKEA stuff together but we try to make it into a game

TheClitterati · 23/04/2020 16:13

I've WFH for 2 years now - but having 2 DC at home full time takes things to a new level.

I am lucky enought to have my own office space at home and an IKEA high/low desk.

The DC seem to want to talk to me when I am on the phone - they are slwoly learning that when I am on a work call they can't interrupt.

DD2 is anxious and would often kick off after school - not great if I was on a work call. Now she is home full time she is a lot less anxious - much more stable and calm. Its really nice.

Fimofriend · 23/04/2020 21:36

My husband and I both work on our Laneberg dining table in the dining room. We have it fully expanded, so when we eat, we just move our screens and keyboards to the other end of the table. We made a schedule for the children so they take turns working in the office on the computer on our nice corner desk. The child not in the office will then work in the lounge. We have also put all our exercise equipment in the lounge so there is no excuse to become unfit. Our daughter was doing cooking in D&T, so she has been baking bread, buns and müslibars. Our son cooked us a lamb's leg for dinner the other night and our daughter cooked us a chicken another night.

Achooo · 24/04/2020 12:57

This reply has been withdrawn

This has been withdrawn by MNHQ at the poster's request.

Stovokororbust · 24/04/2020 20:48

Some great ideas here! My best so far has been a genius sign I stole from someone on FB: it's a chart for the home office door which says if kids can come in or not (but in a more humorous way...) Stops the awkward moment where they think they are waving at their Auntie and it turns out to be my new boss...

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