In work as in other areas of life, your environment influences mood, concentration, and productivity. Whether it's a large corner office, a cubicle, or a home office, your workspace can be your greatest asset for productivity -- or it can be a chaotic source of anxiety.
Through thoughtful design, incorporating furniture choices, comfort, and inspiration, your desk and its surroundings can help you achieve goals. Whether you're outfitting your home office or corporate office, here are a few tips on how to combine productive work with comfort through office decoration and design:
Your office is more than your desk, chair, and file cabinets. It's the environment you create for productive work. It can reflect your style, as this can provide comfort that helps you concentrate, or it can be austere. Either way, the overall theme should be organized and uncluttered. The less you have, the fewer things you have to organize.
Organized space is essential. This means having a spot for the things you work with, not just stacking piles. A file system works for paper documents, and desk organizers can hold supplies and other things that could be a distraction if left on a desk.
Having a dedicated space or home for office items can also help you trim unproductive distractions such as using a smartphone or other device. If you set up an organized electronics drawer, you can give your phone a designated spot, out of your sight.
When working remotely, make sure you have a space that's strictly for work. Readjusting to new environments or using a space in your home that you use for family meals or sleep can create associations that can hinder your productivity. For example, if you work from your kitchen table, you may begin thinking about work during family dinner. Conversely, working from your bed may make you sleepy when trying to be productive. Try to find a space to work from home that's just for work, and when you're away from the space, you aren't thinking about work.
These simple ideas apply to how your workflows relate to the things you need to complete your tasks. For example, if you have to keep getting up to pick up a form or check a system, you might want to organize your process through your environment. Organization helps identify and streamline these areas.
When organizing your environment, it's also important to provide an area for brainstorming or list-making. If you have to spend too much time locating a notebook, moving your laptop to make space for note-taking, you probably won't be effective in identifying and reaching goals. This can take the form of a whiteboard area or a separate place for a notepad.
To keep your meetings, projects, and goals in order, try using a wall or desk calendar. While digital calendars and reminders can be very helpful, sometimes being able to see the big picture of the month or coming months can help you prioritize your tasks, find a good time to take a vacation, and hold yourself accountable to deadlines.
It's a good idea to keep a separate area within your workspace, if possible, for reading. Some people find success in breaking their day into chunks of time separately dedicated to emails, making phone calls, doing administrative tasks, and learning.
A reading area, such as a separate office chair facing a different view than from your desk can be an ideal spot for a distraction-free time. When your environment is work-optimized, you increase productivity.
Consider an optimal spot for video meetings as well. If you typically work from a desk in a cluttered space, it will reflect when having video meetings. Try to find somewhere in your office or home with a simple background, good lighting on your face, and without too much echo or background noise. Being prepared for video meetings will alleviate the stress of trying to find somewhere to go last minute.
Beyond organization, some desks and chairs can help with comfort. Back pain or feelings of discomfort from extended sitting can be a distraction. Some people find the ability to work while standing is important. Standing desks are great for those who want to avoid the negative health effects of sitting while also benefiting from the productivity of standing.
For those who want to sit, though, chairs should be ergonomic and comfortable. You spend much of the day at work, and if you are to be in a chair, make it a good one. Also, chairs have to be able to take some abuse. A bargain desk chair may be costlier if it needs to be replaced every year.
If there's a window with a view of the outdoors, make sure you face it. Looking out the window is calming and focusing. It also connects you to nature which is a useful method for concentration.
Inspiration can come from other sources than the outdoors, though. If you have a favorite inspirational quote, a poster on the wall can be reassuring. A photo calendar of your favorite vacation spot or a collection of family photos works as well.
The calming effects of nature can come from indoor plants as well. Plant a few easy to care for houseplants in small pots and place them in view, and near some natural light. Even a small, low maintenance green plant like a succulent, cactus, or bamboo can help shake off the winter blahs, too.
There's something simply soothing about natural sunlight. In fact, The University of Cornell concluded that offices that are optimized for the most natural light possible showed an 84% drop in symptoms of headaches, eye strain and blurred vision in employees.
These ailments are all productivity killers for workers, so the impact natural light has on your office space is important. Take the blinds off the windows and try out sheer curtains. Place desks near your windows and get rid of the overhead fluorescent lighting.
The ugly, green-tinted fluorescent lights found in many offices are the types of lights that cause headaches. If you don't have enough windows to sustain on natural light alone, office lamps and desk lamps fitted with white light, incandescent bulbs are good substitutes.
Drinking adequate amounts of water is important for your health. Make sure you get the hydration you need with a decent reusable water bottle. If you like to drink coffee or tea, save time and money by setting up a small coffee maker, teapot, or mug warmer.
According to the 2016 Gensler U.S. Workplace Survey, innovative companies are 5X more likely to have workplaces that prioritize both individual and group workspace.
Regardless of whether your office layout is open or more private (divided), it's important to make sure your employees have the workspace options they need to do their best work. Some workers thrive in chaos, while others require peace and quiet to focus best.
Make sure you're incorporating quiet, focus areas for individuals who prefer it as well as areas where group collaboration can thrive.
These spaces should be inviting but not too busy, to avoid diverting attention away from the task at hand. You can hang motivational artwork or pieces, and you can place something that smells nice on the desk.
Scented candles are too big of a fire hazard for most offices, but you can substitute essential oil diffusers for the same effect.
Choosing the colors of your walls or accent pieces shouldn't be something done on a whim. Color choices can have an impact on your employees' productivity. Drab colors such as gray, beige and white promote a dour, gloomy atmosphere that negatively affects women in particular. Light blues and greens result in more focused and efficient workers.
Red is eye-catching and intense. A full room of red may be too much for the senses, but a well-placed accent wall in the right environment could inspire passion. You can choose to mimic the palette of your logo or style guide, but lighter shades of the same hues are often an ideal route to take for paint colors.
Offices should have lots of types of space: personal offices or desk, meeting rooms, collaborative employee areas, etc. Tailoring your decor based on the room is crucial. For instance, in a meeting room, you are going to want to craft an inclusive and productive atmosphere. For personal desk spaces, optimizing for privacy and quiet is more important.
For example, in a conference room, make sure participants have easy access to power outlets and wifi for the maximum amount of people who will be using the room. Make sure the desk is also big enough for the occupants, as nobody wants to stand in the corner during a big meeting.
Perhaps you could place a few plants and art pieces to make the room more friendly, interesting and inviting. Last, having the right technology in place so that meetings can take place efficiently without time lost to tech setup is crucial. Focus on all-in-one, easy setup tech solutions, like the Meeting Owl and Zoom, to power your video conferencing meetings.
Productivity, organization, success, and happiness all are influenced by environment. Your office is your center of work. Make it one that inspires you to innovate, challenge yourself, and work smarter.