Hot desk! Is heating your workspace not your home the secret to keeping energy costs down? FEMAIL tests £349 design that’s 90% cheaper than a heater
- Britain is braced for the coldest weekend of the winter, with The Met Office reporting the ‘Troll of Trondheim’ is set to bear down on Britain
- Designer Peter Waine, from Dorset, invented the Okoform plug-in heated desk after noticing office workers had bespoke needs when it came to temperatures
- The company has seen sales of its £349 desk – which uses radiant heating to keep the user warm – soar as people WFH in UK brace for spell of cold weather
- Waine’s Dorset-based company Okoform says its desks, which retail from £229, run on just 260 watts – using much less energy than a heater or radiator
- Similar products – including heated chair blankets, electric foot muffs and battery-operated heated cushions have also seen a sales spike
With the simple flick of a switch, employees working from home this winter could save hundreds of pounds on their energy bills – as a raft of products hit the market promising to heat up a single work space without the need for turning radiators on.
Britain is braced for the coldest weekend of the winter, with The Met Office reporting the ‘Troll of Trondheim’ is set to bear down on the UK.
Forecasters have issued a level 3, or amber, cold weather alert warning of severe conditions across England between 6pm today and 9am on Monday December 12.
While the post-pandemic period has seen many employees return to their physical workplaces, hybrid working has continued to be hugely popular; and this winter will be the first that WFH-ers have endured with recent spiralling energy prices.
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With the UK braced for its first big blast of freezing weather this week, homeworkers are faced with turning up the heating – and hiking up their bills – to stay warm. Unsurprisingly, a new raft of products on the market including the Okoform heated desk – which retails at around £349 – are proving popular with people WFH
Stoov, which makes heated cushions and heated blankets – the latter designed to drape over an office chair – has seen a sales boon, with its battery powered Big Hug XL chair blanket, which retails at £139.99, currently sold out.
Elsewhere, there’s a veritable carousel of items you can wear to try and stave off the cold – including electric footwarmers, heated hoodies and lap blankets – all promising to be more effective than a hot water bottle and several layers of jumper.
However, perhaps the biggest game changer to emerge for home workers looking for comfortable conditions in the coming weeks is the heated desk.
British businessman Peter Waine started his Dorset-based company ökoform after taking over his late father’s office equipment company, and realising that workers had their own bespoke needs when it came to temperature – with many placing small fan heaters under their desks.
Better than a hot water bottle! The Okoform desktops carry a radiant heating element, which ‘works by heating you directly rather than the surrounding air’ and heat up in minutes, using 90 per cent less electricity than a traditional small fan heater
Toasty! FEMAIL puts the £349 Okoform heated desk to the test…
When, in early October, our gas and electricity supplier sent our ‘projected’ household bill across for this winter – the wrong side of £400 a month – suddenly WFH didn’t seem like such an attractive proposition.
Sitting – or standing – at a laptop in a cold room for long periods of the day is a miserable experience that no hot water bottle or extra jumper layer can counter – so the prospect of testing a literal hot desk seemed enticing.
Femail’s Jo Tweedy tested out an Okoform miniöko, which sees the desktop surface warm up using radiant heat. The plug in device is activated via a simple button on the desk’s side (pictured right)
Light and as easy as an Ikea flatpack to construct; the miniöko took around 15 minutes to feel warm
My test desk, which retails at £349 with free shipping, arrived in a sizeable but slim rectangle box, complete with an allen key, small bag of screws and just five main parts – plus a plug and lead. It took me 15 minutes to assemble – no expert skills required here.
There’s a height-adjustable version, the miniöko-up, if you’re keen on standing and sitting while working…but I tested the 733mm-high miniöko version.
The surface is 1200 x 600mm, so there’s plenty of room for multiple screens, a table lamp, your family photos etc…
The desk comes in three finishes, black, white and oak, with legs in either black or white – it really doesn’t look any different to a standard office desk.
Laptops and consoles stay safe in the heat that radiates from the surface, say the company behind the desk, which also make height adjustable models
A small red button on the right hand side of the desk gets the heat going…and it took a little while to warm up, around 15 minutes to get to full toasty mode.
The main force of the radiant heat – cleverly hidden in the desk’s surface – is felt on your legs; I was surprised by just how warm I was without anything obvious happening to the desk – there’s no hot air, just a gradual increase in warmth.
How hot does it get? Well, hot enough to worry that it might be too warm for my laptop – but Okofrom reassure that stringent CPU testing has proved electrical items placed on the desk actually remain unchanged in temperature.
My top half didn’t quite benefit from the desk’s warm glow…I still needed a decent jumper on to be completely comfortable – but I was hooked on the idea that you could work in a modestly heated home, and not feel cold using a desk that’s much more eco-friendly than firing up radiators.
£349 isn’t an insignificant investment in a cost-of-living crisis – but if you use this desk at home for many winters to come, it’ll certainly pay for itself…
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The entrepreneur failed to attract investment from any of the Dragon’s Den entrepreneurs when he appeared on the series in March this year with his product, but he may well be about to have the last laugh.
Sales of his heated desk invention have soared. The company’s desks retail from £349 (although we found the brand with other online retailers from £250) and run on just 260 watts – using 90 per cent less energy than a desk fan heater, and allowing radiators to be turned right down – every degree drop saves 8 per cent on energy costs according to the Carbon Trust.
The Office for National Statistics reported earlier this year that hybrid working looks set to stay – with 24 per cent of the population working both at home and in an office in May this year.
The Okoform desktops carry a radiant heating element, which ‘works by heating you directly rather than the surrounding air’ and heat up in minutes, using 90 per cent less electricity than a traditional small fan heater.
The designer would love to see the product rolled out in offices but thinks they’re perfect for those working from home: ‘Our desks perform really well in shared offices where workers can warm themselves if they’re not happy with the temperature of the office.
‘And they’re also fantastic for homeworkers, it’s a great solution if you’re working in a cold room and don’t want the expense of using a fan heater or heating the entire house – something that’s at the front of everyone’s minds right now.
‘By the time you’re done making a cup of tea, your ökoform desk will already be warm and helping you to save money on your electricity and gas.’
Stoov manufactures battery-operated heated pillows and blankets; its battery powered Big Hug XL chair blanket, which retails at £139.99, is currently sold out (pictured right)
And everyone from Amazon to Etsy have realised the appeal of products that keep people warm without the need for central heating; with infrared hoodies, and heated USB blankets on sale
On Dragon’s Den, Waine told the entrepreneurs he was inspired to create it after noticing workers had different heating preferences while helping to clear out an office of 200 desks – with many bringing in their own hot water bottles or mini heaters to stay comfortable while working.
Earlier this year he told Dorset Live that a study by Brighton University gave his product legs, saying office workers needed a bespoke solution: ‘[The university] produced a study that said it’s the best way to heat an individual in an office, so that really gave it some kudos behind it and showed that this is something worth pursuing.’
While Dragon Sara Davies liked the product, she wasn’t convinced on its profit margins and declined to invest.
However, Waine’s appearance on the programme led to him being approached by an independent investor and the company has continued to grow – and was even shortlisted for the Kevin McCloud Green Hero Award this year.
The office designer developed the eco-friendly desks and appeared on Dragon’s Den in May – but the show’s entrepreneurs deemed the product too risky without a patent
The Office for National Statistics reported earlier this year that hybrid working looks set to stay – with 24 per cent of the population working both at home and in an office in May this year
Scotland is set for plunging temperatures, snow, ice and blizzards today (left), with forecasters warning of travel chaos and potential injuries as the Met Office issues yellow weather alerts for the North of the country for today. Forecasters also warned of ice and even snow across large parts of England and Wales tomorrow (right)
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