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Is your home now also an office, a gym and a nursery…?

If so, then you’re not alone, as nearly half of workers have admitted their house no longer feels like ‘home’ – as it’s become an office, gym and nursery.

A study of 2,000 employed adults found that 59 per cent have been forced to set up shop in their home at some point during the pandemic, while 40 per cent have home schooled their children. But this has left more than a quarter struggling to separate their home space from their work space.

Employees have swapped desks for their dining table (39 per cent), sofa (36 per cent) and garden (14 per cent) – while only a lucky 31 per cent have a home office setup.

Similarly, children’s lessons have taken place in the kitchen (32 per cent), perched at a coffee table in the living room (19 per cent) and even from their bed (15 per cent).

As a result, 42 per cent feel their home no longer feels like ‘home’ because of its multiple roles, including a meeting room for virtual calls (44 per cent) and a gym to exercise in (40 per cent).

The research, commissioned by belVita, also found that 28 per cent are yet to set up a specific workspace and instead move around the house during the day. And 39 per cent share their makeshift office with their partner, while 28 per cent do so with their children and 10 per cent with their parents.

Armed with this information, Belvita teamed up with design expert George Clarke and neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis to create the Recharge Retreat – a fully functional space that includes all the scientific elements known to help de-stress and recharge.

Dr Jack Lewis said: “Five minutes may not feel like a lot but can often be all our brains need, if we do it on a regular basis. Whether it is resetting and coming back to a task, switching from work mode to parent mode, or simply cooling off at the end of the day, we want to help our brain to get the message as quickly as possible that it’s ok to switch off from what you were just doing.

“The idea is to teach our brain that a certain combination of sights, sounds, smells etc – whatever we decide we want to experience while inside our recharge retreat – is always paired with feelings of winding down and becoming relaxed. After a few repeat cycles of using this system, just the ritual of setting up the retreat by itself is enough to kickstart the process of reducing stress levels. And the more often you use it, the more effective it becomes.”

The study also found people typically spend an additional 45 minutes working each day when at home – amounting to more than three and a half over the space of five days. A quarter feel they are ‘expected’ to always be online nowadays and 85 per cent have answered calls outside of their contracted hours while 88 per cent have replied to emails.

But despite this, 37 per cent admitted they take more breaks now than when they were in their workplace – used for doing housework (37 per cent), home schooling (19 per cent) and cooking (34 per cent).

George Clarke offered: “Homes are where we go to seek comfort and respite, and for many of us, this has been thrown up in the air. With constant digital noise and information, not only is our home invaded, our brains are full too.

“I designed the Recharge Retreat to make it as simple and straightforward for our mind and body to reset. Corners in rooms are seen as being psychologically negative spaces, while rounding the corner can be psychologically pleasing and comforting, so I wanted to design something that evoked comfort and safety to help us recharge.”

It also emerged more than one in four never envisioned they would work from home so didn’t consider a workspace when they moved in or decorated. Since the pandemic began, 26 per cent of those polled via OnePoll have found it more difficult to separate work and leisure time.And a fifth can’t wait to get out of their home at the end of the working day for a change of scenery, with 22 per cent agreeing they have nowhere to ‘retreat’ anymore.

Mathilde Rossignol, for belVita at Mondelēz International, added: “We are passionate about keeping our consumers going and with our entire lives being brought under one roof, we know that we all have some new techniques to learn to keep ourselves going.

“With five wholegrains and minerals, belVita provides energy for the whole morning, and now, with the Recharge Retreat, we can all implement these easy tools to support us, help us switch off and reclaim our space during the day.”

The Recharge Retreat is a fully functional space, combining science and design to create a space that gives us all the tools we need to relax and destress, in just five minutes.

Dr Jack’s tips on how to reclaim our space:

  1. Ensure you work in the same place and take your breaks somewhere else. Just by moving away from the spot where you handle all your work stresses, it should help to give you some psychological distance.
  2. Create a unique multisensory experience that your brain can come to associate with unwinding from working stresses, including different lighting from your workspace, scents from candles or oils, relaxing background sounds and changing your position from sitting to standing, or reclining.
  3. Be consistent. Try to be as consistent as possible, brains take great comfort in routine and standardising the ritual should help you relax.
  4. Banish all screens!
  5. Adopt a different posture.