We live in a changing world. Today, more than ever, the time we spend in our workspace is as integral to our wellbeing as the hours we pass in bedrooms or kitchens. Office design is something no one can afford to neglect.
It is therefore vital that individuals dedicate planning, consideration, and aesthetic principles to this area of life. Your productivity and mental health will thank you!
Design Step One? Know Thyself.
We often leap into our office design endeavors with a great deal of enthusiasm, but far less prior planning. Before you straighten a single pen, use that implement to write down the basics of what your work demands of you.
Your workspace is not someone else’s workspace. It belongs to you as an individual, and so you need to know precisely the kinds of things your day-to-day work activities demand. To simplify, I will give you a few questions you may want to ask yourself before deciding on any color schemes or desk finishes.
Are you naturally organized or are you the opposite? How easily distracted are you? What are your favorite work-related tasks, and which tasks do you dread doing each day? Why is this the case? What are the sorts of things you admire when looking at other people’s office spaces – are those things able to be copied in your own space?
Bring all of these questions together to create a basic sketch of what your office design needs to do. For example: I am a naturally cluttered, distractible writer who loves planning and outlining but dreads formatting. I admire clean, minimalist desk spaces, and although I cannot ascend to the level of some of my colleagues in this regard, I can streamline a bit with the right tools.
Now, narrow this down even further. From my answers I can see that I need a spacious office space with lots of simple, easy-to-use storage options. I need to be able to keep a few work implements visible (such as my planner, a writing journal, and my laptop) but overall I need to keep most items out of sight in clearly-marked drawers.
Now you have a map that will keep you on track as you delve into the more aesthetic aspects of your redesign.
Business and Pleasure Go Well Together!
There is an underlying assumption that an office space must be completely business and productivity-focused. Nonsense! If you are going to spend that much time in a place, it ought to be enjoyable for you.
Keeping in mind the distractibility of your temperament, you can indulge a bit when optimizing your workspace design. I’ve spoken about Mindful Aestheticism in other posts (such as my bathroom design post), and I would be remiss if I did not remind you of it here.
Keep your five senses in mind throughout your design process. Again, I will use my own space as an example.
I almost always keep a scented candle or incense burning while I work, as my nose is extremely sensitive (or scents-itive, so to speak). My office chair has a very soft faux-mink blanket and a back pillow that I keep attached to it, and a bowl of Resee’s Cups beside my computer in case I need a brief chocolate break while working.
With personal preference in mind, I have invested in very appealing yet simply designed stationery which I keep in a box by the corner of my desk – the elegant look of the paper and its receptacle provide a feeling of class and organization as soon as I see them. I wear sound-proof headphones with a very comfortable design and tend to listen to music while I write.
All of these elements combine to form a motivating and pleasant work experience day after day. Whenever I feel I need a change, I simply use my senses as the starting point for reorganization and redesign!
Complacency vs. Productivity – An Ongoing Battle.
A mistake I and others tend to make is becoming used to all of the wrong things when it comes to our office design. Clutter is one of the usual culprits, but we also accustom ourselves to poorly optimized storage solutions, or to an inefficient use of space.
It is absolutely essential that your office space does not become static. Workspace design must be dynamic. You ought to be taking several moments at the beginning of each day to really look at your desk and its surroundings.
This is because productivity thrives on awareness. The more we allow things like clutter or bad design to fade into the background, the more inefficient we become. This is a well-studied phenomenon that spans all ages and ethnicities.
I suggest keeping a small piece of paper with a list of three to five ‘desk routines‘ somewhere accessible. Refer to this list before beginning any work tasks.
Your routines each day should take less than ten minutes. They should involve a concentrated awareness of whether your workspace is still fitting in with your priorities. These habits prevent the chaos that not only holds you back, but which also looks unappealing to anyone who sees your office.
It All Starts and Ends with Storage.
This may be obvious to most of you, but the most important element of office design is storage. The methods you use to keep everything in its place becomes the heart of your workday.
Again, this factor requires you to be conscious of your needs as a unique individual. For instance, I find that I need certain things to be visible while I’m working or I’ll forget about them (i.e. my planner). Other things need to be stored in drawers, or they will become a source of distraction.
There are truly an infinite number of storage options to choose from. This is both a boon and a burden – it can make the design process overwhelming. You must eliminate as many elements as possible before acquiring these options, and you should be firm about your criteria. Elimination is key to both the actual organizing process and the way you purchase tools to aid in it.
Do not rush through this phase of your design. Take the time to think through the steps of your day and how storage solutions could enhance them. What is the theme of your space, and what would clash with that theme? What do you need to keep visible, and what do you need to keep hidden each day? How much space will you need for each category?
When you begin and end your office design with storage in mind, you will save yourself an untold amount of stress! One of the resources I find useful for this process is the Real Homes design blog.
My personal philosophy is to embrace simplicity when designing a workspace – without sacrificing beauty or pleasure.
The balance you strike between what brings you joy and what brings you functionality is a personal one. Nonetheless, I hope you find this post helpful as you get started.
If you have any further advice or tips to share, please leave a comment! Until next time, darlings.