From conferences in the garden shed to meetings at the kitchen table, the daily slog in the ‘office’ has taken on a whole new meaning these past months, as we all grapple with working from home.
But have you ever tried doing a day’s work from your bed?
It may sound like the height of slovenliness, but ‘WFB’ is fast becoming the latest lockdown phenomenon; fans say it’s ideal for those living in shared accommodation, who can’t face sharing the living room with flatmates, or parents looking for somewhere quiet to get away from the kids.
Proud bed-workers are taking to social media to show off their laid-back ‘office’ set ups, while John Lewis and Argos have seen a boom — up to 600 per cent — in sales of laptop trays and wedge pillows designed for in-bed productivity. And it’s not exclusive to the 21st century; other fans of WFB included Winston Churchill and Frida Kahlo.
But critics say working from bed is an excuse for lying down on the job, not to mention the damage it could do to your posture — and your mental health.
So can you really do a decent day’s work from bed (and all without your boss realising?) Sarah Rainey snuggled up under her duvet to find out . . .
So can you really do a decent day’s work from bed (and all without your boss realising?) Sarah Rainey (pictured) snuggled up under her duvet to find out . . .
ULTIMATE ‘WORK FROM BED’ GADGETS
First things first, you’ll need the right gear. Luckily, the WFB market is full of gadgets designed to make this unconventional office set up practical and productive.
Laptop tray with mouse mat and wrist cushion
This tray by tech company Huanuo is top-of-the-range. It’s got space for a 15in laptop, a mouse mat and pockets for notepads, pens and other essentials. There’s also a cushioned edge, to protect my legs from the laptop’s heat and support my wrists.
Bedside storage pocket
Like a filing cabinet for your bed, this handy felt pouch hangs off the side of the mattress or bedhead and organises everything I would otherwise put on a desk: glasses, spare pens, notepad and mobile phone.
Memory foam support pillow
Made from foam, which moulds to the shape of your body, this pillow can be used anywhere you feel the strain: neck, back, or under your knees. It’ll help prevent the dreaded ‘tech neck’ from slouching over your laptop — and the cover can be washed.
Upright wireless mouse
Lying down while using a mouse can put strain on your wrist and elbow, so this upright equivalent — which supports your palm and cradles your thumb and little finger — is a great alternative. It connects to your laptop via wifi and you click with your index finger.
It’s not just you who needs propping up — your notebook will also benefit from a cushioned stand, which holds it at the right angle for writing without putting tension on your wrist. There’s even a slot for your pen.
All those Zoom calls can run down your laptop’s battery — and you don’t want to get tangled in wires. So this wireless charger, which can boost your device’s battery from zero to 100 per cent in two hours, is a must-have. All you need is a USB cable to connect it.
Bedside coffee machine and spill-proof mug
Bring your espresso to bed with this ‘brew and go’ coffee machine. You can set the alarm function to grind your coffee, without having to boil the kettle. It comes with a lidded travel mug, too, so you’ll avoid spills — and it keeps your brew warm for hours.
From £2,299, modebeds.co.uk
If you’re going to WFB long-term, invest in a smart bed with a Bluetooth-enabled mattress. This is controlled via your phone and comes with a massage function, adjustable mattress height, under-bed lighting and USB ports.
WHAT TO WEAR
Lounging in PJs doesn’t sound like a productive day, so what should you wear when WFB?
Office-wear will get crumpled, while a tracksuit won’t cut it.
‘Silk pyjamas are the perfect choice to avoid the “just got up” look,’ says the Mail’s Assistant Style Editor, Amy Kester. ‘The material regulates your body temperature, and the smart cuts, vibrant prints and shimmering appearance create a sophisticated look.’
M&S and Boden (boden.co.uk) offer embroidered silk PJs from £35, or paperlondon.com has a luxury set for £350 and eye mask for £49. For men, Japanese clothing brand Aoki has invented a ‘pyjama suit’, made from stretchy polyester (aoki-style.com, £35).
‘Silk pyjamas are the perfect choice to avoid the “just got up” look,’ says the Mail’s Assistant Style Editor, Amy Kester. Pictured: Paper London silk pyjamas (£350) and mask (£49)
WILL WFB HURT YOUR BACK?
Hunching over a desk, slouching to reach the keyboard or craning your neck to use your phone all play havoc with our posture — so sitting in bed must be worse, surely. Apparently not, according to the experts. ‘Even doing it for a long time can’t damage your back, neck or shoulders by causing an injury,’ says Claire Small, clinical director of Pure Sports Medicine in London. ‘What is not great for our bodies is staying in any one position for a prolonged period.’
She suggests setting a timer every 20-30 minutes to remind you to change position, get up and do some stretches. ‘Use pain as a guide; this is your trigger for getting up,’ she adds.
. . . OR DAMAGE YOUR BRAIN?
With everything going on in the world it can be hard enough getting out of bed — so is there a risk staying there could affect our mental health?
Psychologist Charlotte Armitage says yes. ‘When you work from your bed, the psychological and physical boundaries between work and relaxation become blurred, making it challenging to “switch off” at night time,’ she explains.
There’s also a risk your work will be affected by the set-up, making you more susceptible to distraction, fatigue and low motivation.
Charlotte suggests a physical distinction between work and leisure. ‘You can do this by sitting on a different part of the bed.’
As for sleep, could WFB sabotage your night-time rest?
‘To create a strong association between your bed and sleep, protect your bed for sleep and sex — nothing else,’ warns sleep scientist Dr Sophie Bostock. But, if you have to WFB, try to stop work thoughts creeping in at bedtime.
‘Change the bedcover, add more bright lighting, move the bed — anything to create a distinction between your sleep environment and your work environment,’ says Sophie. ‘At the end of the day, clear your bedroom of work stuff to draw a psychological line under the work day before you wind down.’
Turn your backdrop into a library
Most employers won’t be impressed by the prospect of you working from your bed, and the sight of your headboard will give away your position. But there are ways to trick them.
One way is to turn your bedroom into a ‘library’ with a 6ft banner background (amazon.co.uk, £13.99), designed to fill the screen with books (pictured)
One way is to turn your bedroom into a ‘library’ with a 6ft banner background (amazon.co.uk, £13.99), designed to fill the screen with books (pictured). If that isn’t realistic enough, invest in a pop-up green screen (amazon.co.uk, £49.90), to camouflage the messiest of rooms. Set it up and use the ‘virtual background’ function on Zoom to change your backdrop.
For a less high-tech version, sit back on a ‘bed chair’ (wayfair.com, £102), designed to look like the top of an armchair. No one will ever know . . .