Gym, office, classroom? Five steps for a flexible living and working space


Around 18.5 million people in the UK are currently working from home and with schools, colleges and universities up and down the country closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, British homes are now housing nurseries, classrooms, home offices and gyms.

Spare bedrooms and dining tables have been transformed into makeshift offices and classrooms, and living rooms are quickly becoming the go-to space for a workout. As a result, homes are becoming cluttered and untidy.

Research has found that clutter has a negative impact on mental health and wellbeing, with 54% of Brits admitting that clutter impacts their stress levels.

We have looked into how to keep our homes as functional as possible whilst adapting to living in lockdown and minimising the clutter.

Here are our top tips for creating a flexi-home during lockdown:

1. Identify your boundaries

You will want to create a separate space for both working, teaching and exercising in your home, so no one is disturbed throughout the day.

If you have a spare bedroom, use this room for work and teaching. Or, if you’re looking to work out at home, keep any exercise equipment neatly stored, so at the end of a workday or workout, you’re able to close the door and relax.

If you don’t have a dedicated room to use, perhaps ask your family or housemates if they can avoid using the area around your workspace. This will help you concentrate throughout the day and reduce distractions.

2. Decide what’s to stay and go

It’s easy to have everything you think you need for working from home or homeschooling spread out on your desks or dining tables, but try to keep things you don’t need tucked away in cupboards or storage boxes.

Things such as unused or full notebooks, textbooks or stationery that you find yourself not using or needing can be stored away, so they’re not cluttering up your living space when the day is done.

3. Use wall space

To save desk space, use any wall space you have in your home office, spare bedroom or living room to attach any useful work documents, school learning materials or even to display your children’s lockdown artwork!

Utilising unused space around the room not only helps your immediate workspace from becoming cluttered, but it is also a great way to encourage visual learning. You could also create a temporary wipe board wall for you or your children by placing a sheet of plain A4 paper inside a punched pocket and attaching to your wall using wall-friendly adhesive tape or tack.

4. Tidy away at the end of the day

One of the most important steps to making sure your home still feels like a home and not a classroom, gym or office, is to clear away your things at the end of the working day. If you’re using a dining table or coffee table, clear away everything into storage boxes so you still have the usual, homely space to eat with your family and relax on an evening.

If you have a dedicated space to use such as an office or spare room, tidy away any stationery, notebooks or used mugs and plates that have accumulated throughout the day. This will help you feel productive and ready for the day when you next come to use your working space.

5. Store everything correctly

Keeping a home calm and relaxing in lockdown is important, but taking care of your possessions as you store them away is equally so.

For stationery, especially pens or felt tips, always ensure the lids are replaced at the end of your working day and are stored away from sunlight, especially if your desk is near a window. You can store them away in a pen pot or drawer and this will stop them from drying out. Chalkboards are also great for creating a space to write notes or reminders on, so if you have one that you’ve used for meal plans, it could come in handy for your office.

If your home also doubles up as a home gym, keep equipment stored away from high traffic areas, so they don’t become a trip hazard. Equipment, such as resistance bands and yoga mats, can detoritiate or dry out over time, especially if left in direct sunlight. To help keep your fitness gear in good condition, clean it regularly with a natural cleaning product that doesn’t contact harsh chemicals and store away under a bed, desk or in a cupboard away from sunlight.