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    Blog by Toby Brown

    Top tips to increase happiness and productivity in your home from Sekisui House

    09 September 2020
    A 6 minute read by Toby Brown

    We’ve all spent a lot of time at home in recent months, often improvising with the way we structure our working day.

    It’s a time which has put the spotlight on the layout and design of our homes, something our colleagues and partners at Sekisui House have done much research into this summer; a new survey conducted in May 2020 amongst Japanese homeowners revealing how they are using their home in a changing world.

    The research from Sekisui House Human Life R&D Institute found some clues to realise wellbeing and happiness – which we’ve listed out below...

    Create flexible space with Town House

    1 — Rethink your space

    Many of us have had to carve out desk space at the dining or dressing table, something that isn’t ideal for productivity or for relaxing when the working day ends; the Sekisui House survey found that 87.4% of respondents spend most of their day in their living room – with 58.3% working from their living space.

    How to resolve this? Try distinguishing your workspace from the living area in any small way you can; use bookshelves or a screen to create partitions and a separate environment that makes it easy to focus even if other family members are in the same room.

    The survey also showed that 34% of Japanese homeowners had “no personal space” in their current home. If this is affecting you, think about adding in some small personal items to the space where you relax ; colourful cushions, favourite books or an object that invokes a great memory, little pieces that will help make a small corner of your home feel like your own.

    Create space for children to study, play, draw and relax

    2 — Think of the kids...

    Kids need their space too, especially since home school has become the norm and distance learning may continue to be part of our lives in future.

    How to resolve this? Try and create “multi-learning spaces” around the home, spaces where children can study at any time, but also play, draw and relax; our Japanese colleagues also reminded us that learning activities can be done standing up too; no need for desks and chairs when children are keen to learn (and get them up off their bums at the same time! Win win).

    And remember, the concept of the "multi-learning place" can also apply to working from home. Having a few alternative workplaces can help our own productivity and peace of mind.

    A clean-up box helps to switch smoothly from work to the end of the day

    3 — The Genius clean up box

    This is a great idea from Japan that we are very keen to adopt. In order to separate work time and private time, create a “clean-up box” where you can put your laptop and work materials as soon as you’re done.

    How does it work? If you are using the dining table for work, you can put your laptop and notepads in the box at lunchtime and dinner time, and you'll be able to switch smoothly from work, to your break, to the end of your day and back again. This will help create some separation between work time and the rest of your day and should be great for de stressing and family life.

    And why keep such a great idea confined to work? Have a clean up box for the kids’ school things, and for their toys too, so when you sit down in the evening for a bit of Stranger Things you don’t have to feel distracted by all of the strange things lying around.

    Create a family timetable to help reward good behaviour!

    4 — Create a family timetable

    Reduce the frustration of online meetings by creating a “family timetable”; ask family members to respect this and be quiet during certain times of the day – thus reducing everyone’s stress.

    Children (and some adults!) respond better to a known routine and can be rewarded later for their good behaviour so this idea should help all round!

    House plants can greatly enhance the quality of the air in homes and even aid sleep

    5 — Bring the outdoors in

    Further results from the Sekisui House survey cited being “unable to go out freely” as a cause of stress in 65% of Japanese households during the pandemic; the team recommends using some greenery to bring the outdoors inside .

    It’s backed up by another Sekisui House study, which showed that there is a healing effect from just looking at plants and greenery.

    House plants greatly enhance the quality of the air in homes and even aid sleep, so there may be some strong evolutionary reasons why we find them so relaxing to be around.

    It's been interesting for us to learn about how households are adjusting to a new normal all the way across the world in Japan. And it’s also reassuring to see how common our struggles are and to learn from each others cultures and ideas.

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