2020 – the year of the 'new normal', and the year most of us began working from home. And as we head further into a new year, we're still settling in to our dining room offices and kitchen Zoom meetings. In this trend report, we explore how each colour, alongside plants and playlists, can help improve how you work.
From the colours that aid energy and concentration, to the plants that reduce stress and the songs that get you motivated, we’ve done the research so you can turn your makeshift desk into a haven of productivity. Ready to boss it? Read on.
Colour can have a huge influence on your mindset – and the experts agree. “Harness colour to fuel concentration or creativity in the workspace,” recommends Tash Bradley, Lead Colour Expert at Lick Home. She says, “Punchy shades such as teal or red will definitely give you a much-needed boost in the morning, or for focus, keep workspaces neutral with a splash of colour to help avoid distractions and be more productive.”
Tash adds: “Spending most or all of your time at home might lead to a significant drop of energy and lack of motivation. That’s why you need to surround yourself with uplifting energy, and you can easily get that from earthy shades that bring the outside in.”
Green is key for clarity and concentration
To inspire an energetic home workspace that also taps into nature, those decorating or setting up home offices in 2021 should use the colour ‘Pine green’. Green is a great colour for long-term concentration and clarity, making it the perfect choice. It reminds us of thriving evergreen trees, while also remaining sophisticated and chic – allowing for a WFH space you're happy to be in, without compromising on style.
Lick’s Green 07 is a close match with the WFH colour of 2021. Described as a foliage green with hints of blue and yellow, the colour creates a tone perfect for a prolonged period of working from home.
Earthy tones and teal are most recommended by experts for 2021
Greens: Provide an uplifting energy, remind us of growth, as well as improve efficiency and focus, perfect for a workspace. It's one of the most restful colours for your eyes and is known to make you feel optimistic and refreshed, contrasting the strain from screens.
Blues: Blue has positive effects on the mind and the body. As the colour of the sky and the ocean, it invokes rest and can cause the body to produce chemicals that are calming and exude feelings of tranquility. It is also known to be the best colour for productivity.
Neutral: Greys, beiges and whites keep spaces neutral which can help you to ignore any distractions.
Iron grey was last year’s go-to WFH colour
Through an analysis of HEX colour codes across Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram home office images, we discovered that ‘Iron’, a cool grey, was the colour that appeared most in WFH spaces in 2020, across these three platforms.
A key tone in interior trends such as Japandi, Scandi and Minimalism, a sleek grey is too often assumed to suppress good moods, when in fact its neutrality can give you a clean slate for thought processes, creativity and innovation.
Curating your work-from-home experience isn’t just about colour. How you accessorise can completely change your environment. Updating your desk to something that fits the space, or becomes multipurpose so you can switch off from work mode, is a simple way to upgrade your setup.
It’s these small touches that make a big difference. A desk chair that supports your back while fitting your aesthetic is the ultimate win, but adding artwork and plants can clear the air, set your intentions for the day and brighten up your WFH space.
Office plants boost productivity by 15%
When working from home, you have the freedom to create a space most conducive to your productivity and creativity needs. According to research by the University of Exeter, employees’ productivity jumps 15% when previously bare work environments are filled with a handful of houseplants. They’ve also been proven to banish negative vibes, as well as keeping workers calm, clearing the air and fending off fatigue.
A study by the new University of Technology, Sydney, found significant reductions in stress among workers when plants were introduced to their workspace. Results included a 37% fall in reported tension and anxiety, a 58% drop in depression or dejection, a 44% decrease in anger and hostility, and a 38% reduction in tiredness.
So now we know house plants are a zen addition that, paired with beautiful pots, can lift your mood, drive concentration and stem creative thoughts. But which are the most popular?
We looked at an extensive list of house plants, determining those best suited to an office space (those that don't require a lot of light, water or attention). We then analysed search volumes for each to find the most searched for plants in 2020.
The spider plant claims first place with 486,200 searches. Considered one of the easiest air-purifying plants to look after, spider plants will help remove chemicals from the air to help you feel great – and think straight.
In joint second with 397,200 searches each are the snake plant and Aloe vera. Resilient for those known to kill house plants, the snake plant removes harmful toxins from the air. Aloe vera is a plant that requires little water, perfect for desk spaces with computers, and it's know for its anti-inflammatory and air-purifying benefits.
Aloe vera plant
Yearly Search Volume
If you want to know which ones will make your WFH space more ‘gram-worthy, the most photogenic office plants vary from the most popular. Air plants take the top spot with 613k hashtag uses on Instagram, ahead of succulents with 216k and peace lilies in third place with 144k.
So you’ve perfected your surroundings and lighting – now you just need the perfect playlist. We analysed over 2000 playlists on Spotify with ‘WFH’ in the title to determine which songs, artists and genre appeared the most last year.
Taylor Swift claims the top spot as the sound of home working in 2020, appearing across 27 of the 2,000 playlists we analysed, followed by Khruangbin in 14 playlists and Ariana Grande in 13. Collectively in first place for the ultimate work-from-home song is Harry Styles ‘Adore You'', Taylor Swifts ‘August’, and Maggie Rogers' ‘Light On’.
Appearances in WFH Playlists
MADE analysed over 2000 Spotify 'WFH' playlists to create the ultimate mood-boosting playlist, featuring music from Billie Eilish and Justin Bieber to Harry Styles and Taylor Swift.
Megan Thee Stallion
everything i wanted
Intentions (feat. Quavo)
Savage Remix (feat. Beyoncé)
1. Regular exercise - Compensate for the lack of movement on commutes by fitting in a short burst of exercise. It can help to energise in the mornings or wind down the mind at the end of the working day.
2. Stick to a routine - Be disciplined in waking up at the same time each day and working your designated hours. Switching off in the evenings is vital for recharging ahead of another working day.
3. Stay connected - It’s easy to miss those small office chats at the coffee station or across the desk, so be sure to check in with team members and have regular non-work related catch ups where possible.
4. Take a break, preferably outside - A break from screen time and work thoughts helps to avoid afternoon fatigue, and some fresh air never hurt anyone. Try having an al fresco lunch or 15 minutes reading during the day, before heading back to the inbox.
5. Treat yourself - Build in some pick-me-ups like baked goods, a favourite playlist, or a lunchtime call with friends to boost morale. Or make plans for the evening to give yourself something to look forward to; it’ll help you avoid working late, too.
WFH colours: Made.com analysed the Hex colour codes of home office images on Pinterest posts, Instagram posts and Twitter posts to determine the top colours that featured in these images the most frequently.
Office Plants: Made.com gathered a list of plants that are the best for the office, don’t require a lot of light/ don’t need a lot of water, and analysed the search volume of 23 varieties to determine the most popular.
WFH Sounds: Made.com analysed over 2000 playlists featuring the title WFH and determined which artist appeared on the most playlists, which songs were the most popular and which genre was the most popular.