The space where we do our work matters. Americans who are employed full time now work an average of 47 hours a week. In addition, employee expectations for their workplace experience are increasing, and many expect all the comforts of home in their office. Some companies are responding by piling on the amenities like custom designed spaces for different personality types and bottomless snacks. However, more important than perks is a workspace that supports your productivity and positivity, whether it’s your individual desk or your entire office.
In my role, I have the opportunity to talk with office managers, administrators, and leaders about how they run their office and what inspires them to do their best work. Whether you’re looking to reorganize your personal workstation or get ideas for a major office redesign, these strategies can enable you to create a space you look forward to coming to every day.
Start with the basics: cleanliness and organization
A clean workspace is the foundation of a productive workspace. If your desk and common areas are messy and cluttered, other elements like design and decor won’t make an impact.
Clutter isn’t only visually overwhelming; it can also contribute to increased stress. In addition, if office surfaces are not able to be cleaned regularly, they can harbor germs that can lead to sickness and missed days of work. In fact, microbiologists say it takes just two to four hours for a virus to spread from a coffee pot or microwave handle to someone’s desk (yuck!)
If you want to revamp your office, start by creating a plan to eliminate clutter so you can organize your space and keep it clean. Follow these steps:
- Assess your workspace: where does clutter accumulate? Is it easy to move around to access what you need to work?
- Document problem areas and make a plan to clean and organize them one-by-one
- Start with your desk: Is everything you need to work within reach? Do you have adequate storage space for documents, tools, and personal items?
- Schedule time with your team members to work together on larger, messier areas
- Make a plan to keep areas clean,whether that’s a monthly decluttering “happy hour” or scheduling extra cleaning or trash removal services on particularly busy weeks
Decor makes the difference: plants, color, and lighting
Once you’ve assessed and made a plan to declutter your workspace, think about small enhancements that can make your office more vibrant, healthy, and productive.
Plants boost happiness
Plants in the office deliver many benefits, including filtering toxins from the air, boosting productivity, and lowering stress. You can add plants to your desk or common areas like the kitchen or lounge to bring a sense of life to otherwise sterile-feeling spaces. When choosing an office plant, make sure you take into account how much light your office receives and consider hardier plants like ZZ or Snake plants that can more easily survive in an office environment.
Pay attention to your lighting
Lighting can have a big impact on our health and productivity, especially as we spend longer hours inside at our desks. If you can, move your desk within 20 feet of a window in order to reap the benefits of natural light. If that’s not possible, outfit your workspace with specific lighting that supports the function of each space. For example, special blue spectrum lights can stimulate alertness and are great for conference rooms. Yellow hued lights are great for spaces designed for relaxing, such as lounge areas, and help increase feelings of comfort and camaraderie.
Add a pop of color
Like light, color can influence your mood and workstyle. Blue can cultivate focus, green brings a sense of calm, and yellow summons optimism and the creative spirit. Brighten up a dull or monochrome work space by painting a single “accent wall” or investing in colorful area rugs or cushions for lounge spaces or conference rooms. If you can’t add large decor updates, you can add touches of color to your personal workspace with color-saturated desk accessories.
The bigger picture: Consider your office design
Once you’ve gotten a handle on cleanliness, organization, and decor details, you might realize your space overall needs a refresh to better serve you and your teammates. Consider reorganizing your seating chart to create space for different types of work: small group collaboration, quiet focused tasks, and large group meetings. This requires buy-in from teams across your office and may benefit from outside expertise.
You can work with your team, and with the guidance of an interior designer, to set goals, create a budget, and make a plan for reworking your space. Whether it’s a straight forward refresh of furniture and layout or a more in-depth remodel and build out, knowing what you want to achieve from your office space and creating a plan to get there will help create an environment where you and your team can do your best work—and feel great while doing it.
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