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WFH trends 2020: from the 'flexi-office' to the 'Insta desk'

Olivia Heath
·4-min read
Photo credit: John Lewis & Partners
Photo credit: John Lewis & Partners

From House Beautiful

Since the coronavirus pandemic, the remote working revolution has now become an everyday part of life, with every room in our home turned into a new place of work.

It's what John Lewis calls 'working from the flexible home', and using sales insight plus results from a customer survey, the leading department store has unveiled the key WFH trends witnessed during the coronavirus lockdown in its new Flexible Living Report 2020.

'The sudden shock of lockdown led to a scramble to find a space to work. Coffee tables and even ironing boards became desks,' says John Lewis. According to the research, 28 per cent repurposed a room for a home office, and now, six months on since lockdown, nearly half of the nation say they will continue working from home at least a few days a week.

Photo credit: John Lewis & Partners
Photo credit: John Lewis & Partners

Read on for the latest working from home trends...

1. Lightweight tech

Finding a flexible approach to working at home was difficult, especially in open plan living environments, with distractions from other household members and noisy household appliances. If there was no option but to work in communal zones, noise cancelling headphones came to the rescue, with sales at John Lewis increasing by 30 per cent from March to May. Tablet sales are also up 65 per cent.

'The portability of today’s technology makes it easy for people to move around the home while they work, with a change of scene bringing a welcome productivity boost,' explains John Lewis.

2. Fragrance

Spending more time working at home led to an increase in sales of fragrances in our living space. Sales of essential oil diffusers increased by 22 per cent.

'Fragrance can be a powerful tool for separating work from rest,' says Will Law, Partner & Home Design Stylist, Leeds. 'An essential oil diffuser is perfect for creating the right mood. The change in smell, perhaps supplemented by a change in lighting, can create a shift in a room and help you separate the day, even if your work things still remain visible.'

3. Statement walls

Those surveyed said they have bought books and bookshelves (26 per cent), plants (19 per cent), wallpaper and paint (16 per cent), and 'statement artwork' (13 per cent) to make their work spaces look 'more attractive on camera'. John Lewis says sales of plants have increased by a staggering 419 per cent, while artwork has increased by 35 per cent, as customers look to prints and wall art to showcase their personality to colleagues during video calls.

Read more on the top trending backdrop accessories for video calls

Photo credit: John Lewis & Partners
Photo credit: John Lewis & Partners

4. Office chairs

As we settled into our new working environments, comfort was naturally a big factor, and the biggest priority was a comfortable home office chair. John Lewis saw sales of premium office chairs rise by 86 per cent.

5. The Insta-desk

With our home working environments on display, stylish, small writing desks displaying objets d’art now take pride of place in the home, and all are worthy of an Instagram shoot. As a result, John Lewis says small designer desks are up 73 per cent.

A popular purchase was the John Lewis & Partners + Swoon Franklin Desk, new for AW20, which sold out, but the retailer assures more stock is coming soon. The desk is designed with marquetry techniques to create a tactile, geometric facade and accented with opulent brass hardware. In fact, mid-century inspired designs are proving popular with the design-savvy Hairpin desk up 32 per cent, and the faux leather-topped Soren up 73 per cent.

Additionally, calligraphy pens are up 406 per cent, notebooks and journals up 207 per cent, and String furniture up 65 per cent.

6. Desk lighting

'As we head towards winter months, desk lighting is likely to become the next focal point for the nation’s "Insta-desks". Adjustable angle-poised options will prove popular for finding the most flattering on-camera looks,' says Fionnuala Johnston, Partner & Senior Designer. 'Lighting used to be all about ambience, now we have multiple people working or studying in one space, so you need more fit-for-purpose task lighting, especially as the nights draw in.'

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