7 Steps to Creating the Ideal Work Environment

You know that feeling you get after Spring Cleaning?

Not the end-of-the-day, “I’m so exhausted I could sleep face-down on my bathroom floor” feeling, but the invincible feeling you have the next morning when you wake up and everything is in its place and your home is fresh?

While it seems the state of your home should have nothing at all to do with what you can and cannot accomplish, studies have shown time and again that a person’s environment is directly linked to his or her productivity.

 

 

So imagine if you could have that feeling every single day when you walked into your office?


It turns out you can create the ideal work environment in seven easy steps. Not only does it feel good to enjoy your workspace, but it will make you more productive too!


1. Declutter. Nothing can stop a workflow or create more brain fog than being in a space with too much stuff. Clutter distracts us, makes it difficult to find things, and increases feelings of anxiety. Getting rid of the clutter immediately lightens your mental load and boosts productivity. Here are a few tips for decluttering your workspace:
  • Create a storage zone outside your immediate workspace. Things you don’t need often don’t need to be at your fingertips.
  • Use a color-coded filing system for those important papers you access regularly. Set aside 10 minutes at the end of every day to file away papers.
  • Digitize as much as possible.
  • Clutter is not always physical. All your extra screens and technology can clutter up your time in addition to your space. Set aside a special place close at hand, but out of sight, for your smartphone and other gadgets to help you stay more focused on the work that needs to get done.
2. Create an efficient layout for your workspace. You don’t have to be a feng shui expert to set up your workspace in a visually pleasing and purposeful manner. Start by imagining your ideal workday. What do you do first? What do you need quick access to? What bogs you down about your workspace now? Then, create zones to accommodate your workflow. We already mentioned having a “storage zone.”  In my home office, I have an “In Progress Zone,” a “Finish Up Zone,” and an “Organization Zone” that flow from left to right so my work stays accessible and organized.


3. Set up Healthy Lighting. The human body reacts to light. It is what managed our circadian rhythm (internal clock) for thousands of years before we became office-dwellers. Nowadays, we spend shockingly little time outdoors and the low light quality in our buildings throws off our body clocks, affecting our energy levels and productivity throughout the day.


The best kind of light is sunlight. If you have the option, select an office space near a window that gets plenty of natural light. (Being able to look outside is an added bonus!) If this is impossible in your office, combine overhead lights with warm, indirect lighting. It is also good to have some lighting options that allow you to adjust the intensity. When your energy is low or you are working on a project that requires extra brainpower, brighten those lights and use cooler colors. When you’re nearing the end of your day or are finishing up a stressful project, dim the lights and warm the colors to help you relax.


4. Create ambiance with sounds and smells. Appearances can be deceiving. You can have a decluttered, visually pleasing workspace, but if it smells bad or is infiltrated with noise, it can still be ineffective. Consider diffusing essential oils, like citrus to boost your energy or lavender to promote relaxation. Quietly play your favorite instrumental music or invest in some noise-canceling headphones to create the auditory ambiance best for you.


5. Decorate. The two keys to decorations in your office are moderation and motivation. You don’t want your office to feel cluttered, but a few well-chosen pieces can keep you smiling and motivated even on difficult days. Add some personal style with two or three pictures of loved ones and a piece of art that moves or inspires you. Make sure to include one thing that just makes you smile. Looking at these types of items reminds you of what is most important and helps reduce work stress.


Studies have also shown that adding plants to your workspace can lower stress levels and enhance productivity by as much as 15% (1). So consider including a cactus, succulent, or other hardy plants in your office decorations.


6. Adjust your furniture ergonomically. While your skills and interests may grow to fit your job, you want to design your physical workspace to fit you. Not doing so creates physical discomfort and can actually lead to injuries in the workplace. Check out this Self-Assessment published by the National Institutes of Health to determine if your workstation is properly fitted to you (2). Consider healthier alternatives to traditional desks, like our Sit-to-Stand desks.


7. Create opportunities for movement. The biggest health-risk for workers today is inactivity! A static lifestyle leads to pain, obesity, chronic diseases, and mental health issues, all of which negatively affect productivity and quality of life. Whether it is taking frequent breaks to stand up and walk around, pacing while you talk on the phone, or using one of our convenient Bike Desks or Under Desk Cycles, movement in the workplace is key to wellness and productivity. It improves circulation, enhances brain function, and reduces the risk of multiple physical and mental health problems.





1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2014-30837-001


2. https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/sr/dohs/Documents/Computer%20Workstation%20Ergonomics%20Self%20Assessment%20Checklist.pdf