Well-being & Working from Home: boost your mood, productivity and performance

Image credit: Daan Stevens

As we all continue to work, teach and spend more time at home, it is as important as ever to maximise our well-being and make the most of our space.


Using the Ekkist Design for Well-being ® framework we have put together a summary of our top tips for well-being at home to support your productivity, mood and creativity during this time.


Ekkist have also joined the International WELL Building Institute’s Task Force on COVID-19 to support the construction industry through our expertise in healthy building design and operations and we will be providing updates on this via our social media channels over the coming weeks, so please do look out for these.



Image credit: Gia Oris Ilves
1. BCO, November 2018, “Improving Productivity in the Workplace”
2. Künn, Palacios and Pestel (2019) “Indoor Air Quality and Cognitive Performance”



Indoor air quality can have an impact on both productivity and the accuracy of your work. Maintaining good indoor air quality helps to support focus, alertness and decision-making.


As C02 builds up in a room, people’s concentration decreases. A recent study found that office workers were able to work up to 60% faster in rooms with lower CO2 concentrations! It also found that an increased intake of CO2 could lead to poor decision making, slower reaction times and increased tiredness amongst employees¹.


Another study found that fine particles and dust (measured as PM2.5) had a major impact on decision-making abilities of competitive chess players, where an increase in concentrations of PM2.5 also increased the probability of making an erroneous move by 26.3%²!


What you can do at home


You can improve your productivity at home by keeping windows slightly open, ventilating rooms frequently and hoovering and wiping dust from surfaces regularly. You could also invest in a standalone air filtration unit (with HEPA and carbon filters), which can remove indoor air pollutants and help to keep the air clean and healthy.

Image credit: Norbert Levajsics
1. Denissen et al. (2008) “The effects of weather on daily mood: A multilevel approach”.
2. Kaida, Takahashi and Otsuka (2007) “A short nap and natural bright light exposure improve positive mood status”



Proximity to a window and daylight can not only benefit your circadian rhythm, helping you to feel alert in the day and to sleep better at night, but it can also boost your mood.


Research shows that the relationship between sunshine and mood appears to be linear: more sunshine leads to better mood¹  and when people are in a day lit space for 30 minutes in about 3,000 lux of light, they are in a better mood than people in spaces lit by more moderate levels (less than 100 lux) of artificial light²!


The WELL Building Standard (V2) also encourages access to light in buildings, with the placement of workstations within 6 metres of windows, and seating within 5 metres of windows.


What you can do at home


Try positioning your workspace close to a window (at least within 5-6 metres), with good light levels and preferably a green view, but do ensure that you prevent any glare to your screen which can cause visual discomfort

Image credit: Black + Blum
1. Benton and Young, 2015 “Do small differences in hydration status affect mood and mental performance?”
2. Masento et al. (2014) “Effects of hydration status on cognitive performance and mood”
3. Pross (2017) “Effects of Dehydration on Brain Functioning: A Life-Span Perspective”



Staying hydrated throughout the day can boost our mood and performance.


Scientific studies show that as a result of dehydration, our mood is influenced, fatigue is greater, and alertness is lower¹. Other research has shown that the impact of dehydration on cognition and mood is particularly pronounced in children and the elderly², with recent imaging data suggesting that their brainsmay have fewer resources to manage the effects of dehydration³.


This highlights how important it is to drink the recommended daily amount of 2 Litres. (For children, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends 1.1-1.3 litres per day for 4-8 year olds, 1.3-1.5 litres per day for 9-13 year old girls and 1.5-1.7 litres per day 9-13 year old boys).


What you can do at home


Perhaps you can start each working day by filling a large jug with water (you could also add some chopped fruit for variety). You can add a charcoal water filter to improve drinking water quality, which can remove impurities such as chlorine, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and odours, or you could install a filter on your tap.

Image credit: Nicolas Picard
1. White et al (2019) “Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing”



Creating buildings which contribute to, and are part of, the biosphere of the region in which they are located in is one of Ekkist’s key design principles. Acknowledging that we are also part of this, and spending time in nature also has excellent health benefits.


Studies show that spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing¹, with one particular study of 20,000 adults in England suggesting that 120 minutes may be the critical threshold in order to experience significant health improvements. The pattern is consistent across key groups, including older adults and those with long-term health issues. It also did not matter how 120 minutes of contact a week was achieved (e.g. one long vs. several shorter visits per week).


What you can do at home


If you can safely to so, use your daily exercise time to take a walk to a natural area and try to reach 120 minutes of this per week. You could aim for 15 minutes every weekday and then a longer 45 minute walk at the weekend.

Image credit: Huy Phan
1. Shibata and Suzuki (2002) “Effects of the foliage plant on task performance and mood”.
2. Lohr and Pearson-Mims (2000) “Physical Discomfort May Be Reduced in the Presence of Interior Plants”.




Stay positive with plants! You can create a productive atmosphere at home by incorporating plants into your workspace, and there is plenty of research highlighting the benefits of them. This ranges from the popular NASA Study on pollution-absorbing plants, to research on healthcare environments on the health benefits of spaces with plants.


Research has found that our ability to do creative thinking appears to be enhanced by the presence of leafy green plants and that plants in front of study participants had the greatest effects on their performance¹.


Plants can also be used to improve healthcare environments. Some studies have shown that when plants are placed in an environment, human pain thresholds are higher than when they’re absent and that blood pressure also tends to be lower than when they’re absent².


What you can do at home


You could try arranging your favourite house plants around your workspace and seeing if this improves your concentration and creative thinking. Some are even good at reducing indoor air pollution, such as certain types of ivy and peace lilies.

Image credit: Hutomo Abrianto

Adaptability and Flexibility


Adaptability and flexibility are one the Ekkist key design principles as we believe that buildings should have the power to inspire you, grow with you, and easily adapt to changing needs.


What you can do at home


At home, we suggest being creative with your space to create flexibility.


Start by creating a zone in your house for quiet time, meditation and contemplation, away from areas for socialising and exercising. This can be as simple as a quiet corner of the bedroom with a comfy chair or setting up a ‘do not disturb’ zone in a separate living or dining room if you have the space. Having space for quiet contemplation and reflection is important for our well-being.