For many people, working from home is still very much part of their routine. Whether they are self employed or their workplace is letting them have a hybrid schedule, the fact is that not everyone is working in an office. This despite the insistence that as soon as the pandemic was ‘over’ we would go back to ‘normal’ and all be back in the office five days a week.
Yeah, right. It’s not ‘over’ and for those of us who are immunocompromised, there is no ‘normal’. There never will be again, sad to say. I still get twitchy in big crowds and never go anywhere unmasked, unless I’m just going for a hike or a bike ride.
In the company I work for, we do ‘hybrid working’ – some days in the office, some at home. Nobody has to be in the office every day, and we can all do our jobs remotely. I go into the office one or two days a week, health permitting, but I still spend a lot of time working from my home office. Some people don’t go in at all, some people go in every single day. It’s varied, and we are immensely privileged that we can pick and choose how we work.
Plenty of people are still working from home, and here in the UK we are very much in the middle of a cost of living crisis. Energy bills are ridiculous and for many folk it’s a choice between food and warmth, which it shouldn’t be. We have resisted putting the heating on as much as we can, and this has led me to some slightly creative ways to stay warm in my home office, which for some reason has the same ambient temperature as an industrial freezer (or at least that’s how it feels some mornings).
I also feel the cold really badly. My joints get very stiff if it’s cold, and the first twinges of my knees and my hips are a sure sign that winter is on the horizon. I’m good at warming myself up, even if the heating is very much off.
So here are some tips that I hope will help you keep domestic costs down and stay warm when working from home.
Get some tealights
Seriously, do not underestimate the heating power of a bunch of tealights. You can get packs of 100 for about £4 from various shops, but I would recommend the eight hour burn ones from Wilko. They’re a little pricier but if you light them when you start work, they’ll last all day and as long as you keep your workspace door closed, it will be lovely and snug all day. Just make sure you’ve got enough space for them, as they are a fire hazard, especially if you’ve got paperwork on your desk.
Ask me how I know.
Invest in a good blanket
A good fleece blanket or throw will keep you warm in a chilly workspace. I’m currently cuddled under one from Squires Garden Centre – it’s technically a sofa throw but it’s so warm and cosy that it’s become a blanket for me. Couple that with a hot water bottle underneath and you’re onto a winner. I recommend the ‘Gandalf’ method of wearing the blanket – wrap yourself in it, and make a hood if you need it. It looks faintly ridiculous, but as long as you’re warm, who actually cares?
Buy some bedsocks
I know, bedsocks are what your nan wears. Well, nan is on to something. Bedsocks over normal socks and then feet in slippers or slipper booties will keep you very warm. As long as your feet and hands are warm, the rest of your body will follow. On your hands you could try handwarmers or maybe some fingerless gloves. I personally find it hard to type wearing either of those, so I try to make sure my feet are as toasty as possible and not worry too much about my hands.
While we’re on the subject of socks, if you can find them, get some bamboo socks to wear under the bedsocks. I’m spoiled because I was gifted a pair of bamboo bedsocks a few Christmases ago and they’re so warm. Bamboo socks seem to be warmer than regular cotton. There’s a few places to get them, so have a look around for some in your price range.
Layers are your friend for your winter work from home wardrobe. T-shirt, thinner jumper, thicker jumper and then a hoodie or dressing gown over the top, and you’ll be both warm and able to remove layers if you get too hot. Obviously if you need to look professional on calls, you might have to compromise warmth for looking smart for an hour or so, but a t-shirt under a work shirt (do your top button up) will help. Heck, even a vest under that. Nobody can see it, and warmth helps productivity, right?
If you’re a runner or a cyclist, your winter base layer can come into play as well. If you aren’t a runner or a cyclist but have one in the family, maybe ‘borrow’ their base layer. Alternatively just go out and buy one yourself, they really are a good investment.
But what about your bottom half? Well, the answer again is layers, and the big secret is tights under everything. Yes, even if you are not of a gender that would normally look at tights, tights can keep you warm.
Plus you then get a bonus layer on your feet to keep them toasty. Don’t diss wearing tights (or even stockings) under your trousers or skirt until you try it.
Drink hot drinks to keep warm
By now you’re probably thinking ‘gee thanks Captain Obvious, I know all this’ but you’d be surprised how many people can get belligerent when it comes to keeping warm. By belligerent I mean insisting they’re not cold when they’re visibly shivering. I really don’t understand that mentality. Keep yourself warm, people. So yes, drinking hot drinks IS painfully obvious to most people, but I’m including it here anyway.
Have you considered making a Thermos full of your chosen beverage in the morning and taking that to your workspace, instead of getting up constantly to make a cup of tea or coffee? No?
Well, there’s a few advantages to a Thermos. I’m talking a full size flask here and not one of the smaller thermo-mugs that those of us who are forgetful of our hot drinks owe so much to. A flask means that you can make your drink and you only have to boil the kettle once that day. A small saving in electricity, but for some people that could make a difference.
Also, you can use the Thermos like a hand warmer. It stays warm all day, remember, so if your fingers get cold, grip that Thermos and they’ll soon warm up.
But possibly the best reason to use a Thermos is that it means less trips from your desk to the kitchen, and I don’t know about you, reader, but when I’m in a warm cosy cocoon the last thing I want to do is get up and get a drink. So make a Thermos, and stay in your blanket-covered, bedsocked and layered work cocoon all day!
These are my own personal tried and tested tips to keep me warm while I work from home this winter. As I type this it is raining like crazy outside, so it’s not actually too cold for once, but I’ve checked the forecast and the temperature is going to drop soon.
If you need me, I’ll be wrapped up in my blanket with my bedsocks on clutching my thermos of Earl Grey and working through my emails!
Do you have any tips to keep warm at home? Share them in the comments.