This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
It’s the third week of the coronavirus lockdown and if you haven’t been allowed to work from home, you’re either a key worker doing essential work (legend) or you really need to have some words with your boss (seriously). But migrating from the office to a tiny flat you share with three mates was never going to be ideal, especially if said mates have been furloughed and now spend 12 hours a day playing Animal Crossing in the shared living room. Can you watch your boyfriend use the word “synergy” on a Zoom call and still take him seriously? Will today be the day you finally punch a hole through your housemate’s newly-acquired drum kit?
Everyone at VICE has been working from home for weeks, so we’re veterans of the WFH wars. When your daily routine consists of crawling out of bed and to your laptop, the first thing you need to nail is your environment. You need to ensure your new “workplace” is a beautifully lit, ergonomically dynamic space free of pass-agg housemate drama. So we reviewed each others’ work-from-home setups in an attempt to inspire you as to what you should and shouldn’t do in your new “office”:
NANA BAAH, STAFF WRITER
The desk in my bedroom was once covered in bottles of serums and face creams but now it’s home to my WFH setup. It’s suspiciously tidy… if my desk at work is anything to go by it won’t stay like this for long. Even though the whole setup isn’t very
me I like it. The flowers on my desk smell amazing and it’s nice to have a plant whilst you work. Although they are a nice reminder that someone likes me enough to buy me flowers, they are a bit distracting. Until they die I’ll have something nice to look at.
NANA’S SETUP… REVIEWED
This is a clearly beautiful setup. It is tidy and aesthetic, without being too try-hard. But I do question whether Nana is actually sitting at this desk because you’d have to have a nose of steel to put up with the allergenic stench of lilies directly in your face for anything longer than 20 minutes. Because of the lack of clutter, and proper office extras like a keyboard and mouse, I reckon Nana will be able to commit to this desk for a while. However, when the apocalypse gets really bad and we’re barely leaving the house for groceries, will lilies really stay on the shopping list? — Helen Thomas
DAISY JONES, ASSOCIATE EDITOR
I feel relatively good about my setup. Nice velvety blanket. Calming pink light. A few crystals on my right, just in case. Plus the whole thing is warm and toasty and smells like palo santo, which you can't see through this pic. However it is a pretty bad move to not have a desk. Like, a very bad move. I eat, sleep and work here which means that after four hours I feel like an actual snail, very unhealthy.
DAISY’S SETUP… REVIEWED
Hell yeah!!! This is what I’m talking about. Love it. Not too clean so as to feel sanitised, but tidy and lived in. Sometimes posters in a room can be a bit student-like, but this nails the lightly art school but actually employed and over-25 sophisticated aesthetic. I can’t diss any part of this room to be honest, it’s pure love from me. However, in terms of longevity – fuck this. A bed???? And not only a bed but no back support? It’s a no from me, Daisy. Look after yourself. — Ryan Bassil
HELEN THOMAS, EMEA STORIES EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
I actually bought this desk very recently to accommodate my DJ decks, which previously I would practice on my bed. As such it is my favourite piece of furniture, and the rose gold accents delight me. However, because I set up my desk for standing and mixing rather than sitting and working, the angle is pants. I either have to take everything off it, stand to type, or reach up my arms like I’m playing keyboard volleyball. But it looks good, and that’s what’s important.
HELEN’S SETUP, REVIEWED
This is quite an Instagram set up, like something you would see if a DJ/influencer did a home tour on their Story. I’m into it though, it looks clean and simple. But I do wonder how Helen is typing at that angle, I don’t think my arms could handle it. In about a week maybe, she’ll either be really ripped from holding her arms up all day or, the more likely option, she would have migrated to a flatter surface. —Nana Baah
RYAN BASSIL, ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Not sure what’s going on here. It’s a very solemn, pared back vibe. Could do with some colour, several hundred plants, maybe a candle, maybe some kind of food or at least water in any one of the two empty glasses. Think the white wine vinegar bottle is left over from when my housemate did some cleaning. Not sure though TBH – these things happen in shared houses.
RYAN SET-UP… REVIEWED
I'm into this. Not a speck of dust in sight, plus you have some white vinegar spray laying over there for good measure, very clean. You've got a separate working space to your bedroom, which I respect. A sofa to recline on (I'm assuming anyway, from your position in this pic.) And a proper TV, mounted on the wall, which is some real adult shit. Not going to lie, I expected some more candles and plants considering your general vibe, but I'm assuming you keep them in your room. — Daisy Jones
HANNAH EWENS, FEATURES EDITOR
From the first day we were sent to work from home, I knew I would monopolise the communal space. If I used the very nice desk in my bedroom, I’d slip quickly into madness. If I used the living room, I would have the “commute” into the “office”. To keep spirits high, I’m peacocking with the anti-bac, and a little afternoon pinot g on the go. I’m so happy here, in fact, that when we get the email to return to work I will mysteriously lose it in my junk.
HANNAH’S SETUP… REVIEWED
Very clean, well done. Do feel like it’s rubbing its cleanliness in our faces to a degree which is a bit smug (especially because you are humblebragging that you own the high-value item “hand sanitiser”) but I would rather that than corona-breeding filth. It’s a very Instagram setup and I respect that. However, I know Hannah Ewens very well and if there is not AT LEAST 2x old cereal bowls on this desk by now I will die of shock. —Lauren O’Neill
SIMON CHILDS, FEATURES EDITOR
You spend your whole life wanting to escape the hellish panopticon of the open-plan office, only to discover that your dining table is far too high. Your housemate insists on having rolling news in order to keep abreast of the mass death event that we’re going through, and you’re too polite to complain about the white-noise of anxiety that this is giving you. Your recreational space is now a place of work from which you can never escape. Neoliberalism has finally invaded every aspect of your life, and you can’t be arsed to do the washing up.
SIMON’S SET UP… REVIEWED
What we have here is a classic “room”. Respectable chairs with sturdy back support, current affairs on the TV (but a PS4 controller perched nearby which says: take a break!), three different beverages and a modest bowl of berries. Understated yet comprehensive, professional yet casual. You could tell me this was student accommodation in 2008 or a lawyer’s flat ten years from now, and I would believe you. In times of crisis, consistency is key – especially when it comes to maintaining a space – and the timeless ambience of this WFH situation makes it a fortress of endurance. —Emma Garland
EMMA GARLAND, CULTURE EDITOR
I like to be surrounded by my little things and most of those are in the living room, so I’ve chosen to work in here where I can intermittently sit back, observe my kingdom, and trick myself into thinking everything is fine because the space between the salt lamp and the incense holder is just so. Unfortunately any illusion of safety is being shattered by the large edition of Pandemic Legacy on the shelf, which has now become ominous.
EMMA’S SETUP…. REVIEWED
Good grief. I’m looking at this picture, and I’m losing count of the number of troubling affectations that are on display. Where to start? You appear to still be using your laptop while in possession of some sort of Apple desktop on the same desk – I can only assume that desktop is being kept sacrosanct some nauseating “creative project” or other. Record collection, fairy lights, candle in a wine bottle – check. I’m grateful that we can’t smell your incense, but please don’t get me started on that ghastly lamp. All that said, this is an undeniably enviable set up, if ill deserved. – Simon Childs
LAUREN O’NEILL, STAFF WRITER
It is looking very neat and tidy here I have to say, and much better than my desk in the VICE office which is unfortunately akin to a bin. I would say that my home desk is still much nicer than my work one, though it has accumulated some debris since I took this picture, namely a notepad and pen, a “calming” room spray (veeeerry Goop of me amirite), and a large bag of chocolate pretzels because baby needs her social distancing snacks. Very blessed to have my own little workspace, my own castle of content, my own place to dream – even in quarantine :)
LAUREN’S SETUP… REVIEWED
A cool Paramore card bought no doubt by a thoughtful pal, a beautiful Tracey Emin print again possibly gifted by a mate, and stunning photos of good times with friends: what I’m seeing is a lot of me, Hannah, in this set up. Naturally, I enjoy the aesthetic Lauren has going on here. OK, in all seriousness, she has a decent desk, cute lamp, and a Diptyque candle that I can only assume gets used for 10 minutes every month for a treat. She’s done well here. — Hannah Ewens
RUBY LOTT-LAVIGNA, STAFF WRITER
My WFH life revolves around three main areas exemplified in this photo. We have the laptop and notebook to show that, yes, actually, I am doing work. Next, we have the Dettol spray – a responsible possession for any well-meaning adult in these trying times, and perfect
for passive-aggressively getting at my housemates after they go out to eat then touch things. Finally, we have the pièce de résistance – my beautiful, new born, sourdough starter. Sometimes, I like to hold it during video calls.
RUBY’S SETUP… REVIEWED
Here we see the two classic ingredients for the perfect magic trick: misdirection and showmanship. Ruby is only showing us what she wants us to see. She wants us the viewer to tuck into the belief that she is all things at once: suitably prepared for the pandemic (Dettol, sourdough starter); working hard from home (the notebook and her laptop conveniently opened to Gmail); and that she hasn’t allowed the global meltdown to infect her bubbly vibe (the Pac-Man mug). I’m not saying what we’re seeing here is a con. But neither am I not not saying that. —Dipo Faloyin
DIPO FALOYIN, EUROPE MANAGING EDITOR
I like to keep my work and home vibes very separate, which is why I was in no way prepared for our new WFH reality. I don’t have a proper desk or work chair, so I’m sofa surfing in my own living room, hoping to have found the perfect sitting position by August – a position that means I don’t slide into a fully horizontal, lying down state every 15 minutes. What I lack in a home office, though, I make up with plenty of east London’s finest sunlight.
DIPO’S SETUP… REVIEWED
I’m a big fan of the beautiful bay windows that provide a well lit working space, but the scene is, unfortunately, let down by the really ugly chair that screams “90s British office”. Perhaps Dipo is missing his real office, choosing to evoke a similar vibe at home. Though come to think of it – the VICE offices wouldn’t ever have a chair like that. Points for the very subtly placed “cool novel” (Queenie) in the distance. — Ruby Lott-Lavigna
Culture editor Emma Garland triumphs with total score of 30 points, followed by Hannah at a respectable 28 and then Simon, Nana and Lauren tying for third with 26 points. Congratulations! You've all won three additional months of lockdown-related back problems.