The importance of home: creating comfortable housing for key workers

For key workers, home has never been more important. Through the pandemic, our hospital, education, transport and delivery teams have needed more than ever to have a safe, comfortable place to come back to at the end of long days. Often moving far from home and families to be closer to their jobs, key workers need flexible, affordable housing designed to help them unwind and de-stress, and have reported that being in a comfortable space not only helps them rest, it means they feel better about living in a new place.

At David Phillips we know how important home is, and what an impact design can have on our mental and physical wellbeing. We have years of experience creating spaces for different workers’ needs, from sourcing durable furniture and supporting across projects, to creating schemes that work for any budget. So, after speaking with key workers to find out their housing must-haves, we present our own guide to creating spaces that care for those who’ve cared so much for all of us.

And relax

Top of the list when it comes to unwinding after a long day is the living room. A comfy sofa piled high with cushions; lighting options for different times of day; somewhere to place a well-earned cuppa – it’s a sight for tired eyes. Think about texture and surfaces, and use this space to help the resident feel cocooned and safe. A relaxing spot they can sit in and let the day drift away.

The importance of home

A space of their own

It may not be their long-term home, but one thing we’ve heard again and again is that workers need to feel like they can really live in a space like they would anywhere else. So it’s about making sure they can unpack and put their things away, maybe have a few personal pieces like photos out on display. A wardrobe, a few drawers and the odd shelf should do the trick, helping to remove that sense of transience that comes from living out of a suitcase for weeks on end. When we can unpack in a space, it really starts to feel like it’s our own.

Looks are important

It’s not about frivolous trinkets – creating a space that looks soft and welcoming creates a separation between work and home that’s so important when we want to switch off. In the same way that you wouldn’t want to eat your dinner at your desk, key workers won’t want to come home to a space that feels hard and clinical, because it keeps part of the mind in that work state. So soften rooms with cushions and rugs, hang art on the walls and add personality with pops of colour or layers of tone. We want to provide moments for the resident to relax back into Home Mode and leave their working day behind.

The importance of home

The great outdoors

For workers who spend a lot of time indoors, being able to access fresh air and natural light at home is essential, so a yard, garden or balcony is always a welcome sight. As well as reconnecting us with nature, it’s proven that time spent outdoors helps to regulate our sleep – a crucial part of keeping stress at bay. To create somewhere your hardworking residents can enjoy, think of seating and a small table, lots of plants, and even candles or an outdoor light, in case shift work means they’re outside at night. It doesn’t have to be grand – those little touches can go a really long way.