Most of us spend at least eight hours at work every day. We spend more time in our offices than at home. But have you ever stopped and thought about just how much impact your work environment has on you?
The lighting. The noise. The furniture. The smells. The colors. The people. Etc. All these, and many other factors, combine to create your everyday work atmosphere. And these factors affect not just your productivity but also your happiness. So if you’re not finding yourself excited to go to work each day, perhaps it’s also because the space itself is not something you want to spend most of your day in.
We often think work is only work—something we do to earn a living. Often, we’re more concerned about our tasks at hand and the people we work with. But if we’re not concerned about our physical workspace, then we’re failing to address a big component of our work life.
As employees, what can we do to make the most of the space that we’ve been given? And as employers, what factors do we consider in creating an ideal work environment that would make our employees both productive and happy?
Plan according to your purpose. A good office plan should start with a thorough internal examination: Who are you? What do you do? What do you value? What do you want to accomplish in your space? Who are the users of the space? Once you get the answers to these and other related questions, you can start customizing your space not only according to how you want it to look, but more importantly, how you intend to use it.
Make it clutter-free. I think it goes without saying that our workspace, however it’s designed or wherever it’s located, should be clean and presentable. Your office is a reflection of who you are as a person and as an organization. Make it count!
Balance work and play. A place to rest, relax in, and let off steam is something that’s on top of every working person’s ideal office wish list. If your company already has this in the form of a game room or wellness center, or even some after-work employee activities, take full advantage of it! But if there’s none yet, there’s no stopping you from finding your own spot—it doesn’t even have to be big—to take a break and unwind. Take your coffee there, or do a quick meditation, or do whatever you need to so you can come back to your desk fresh and ready to be productive.
Personalize your place. There’s more to a workplace than a desk and a computer. Don’t limit yourself to just the essentials. Give your space your personal touch. Maybe display your loved ones’ photo or a meaningful trinket that makes you smile on your table. Or use color to instantly change the vibe of your room. If the walls can’t be painted, go for wallpapers, or use furniture, fixtures, and lighting to transform your office. Just don’t go overboard, okay? Stay within the rules of both your company and your building. Remember, it’s still a professional environment. Keep it that way.
Make room for both the introverts and extroverts. When office planning, employers should keep in mind that just as there should be open spaces for collaborations, there should also be ample room for individual work. While the trend is moving toward more shared spaces, we still need to remember that some tasks need to be accomplished independently and with more focus. For employees, strike a balance between working with others in the coworking space and doing your own tasks alone within your own personal space.
Consider privacy and security. Beyond aesthetics, careful consideration should also be given to the privacy and security of both your people and your property. If there are rooms that need to be designed for confidential discussions, or special steel cabinets that need heavy-duty lock and key, or CCTV coverage in selected areas of your workspace, keep those in mind.
Finally, step out of your box. No matter how ideal your workspace it, you could get bored and stuck if you don’t come out for air once in while. Keep your brain active by changing up your routine from time to time. Why not take your meetings in a meeting room elsewhere? Or maybe, for a change, work for a day in a coworking space you haven’t been to? Sometimes, we need to step out of our comfort zones—even if it’s just baby steps—for a boost of fresh ideas and inspiration.