When you sit down to work on a challenging project, perhaps the last thing on your mind is how the environment affects your body and comfort. Whether you work from home or in a cubicle, your workspace may not be optimal for your health, creativity or workflow. Spruce up your office with these strategies to enhance your productivity and overall well-being.
1. Add colors that promote productivity and positivity.
According to a study by the University of Texas at Austin, colors can affect behaviors and emotions. Taskworld, a task and project management platform, and HOK, an architecture and interior design firm, suggest specific traits that are commonly associated with colors:
- Pink reduces feelings of irritation, aggression and loneliness.
- Red increases heart rate and blood flow while improving attention and energy.
- Orange boosts self-esteem and enthusiasm.
- Yellow heightens productivity, creativity, alertness, and clarity.
- Green decreases fatigue and promotes efficiency.
- Blue enhances feelings of calmness, stability, trust, and loyalty while encouraging creativity and focus.
Take advantage of the positive effects of colors in your workspace by intentionally selecting different colors to help reinforce specific feelings and behaviors. If you often feel anxious while working, leading to procrastination, paint the walls of your office a nice, calming blue with yellow or green flourishes. If you work in a cubicle or if painting is not an option, you can still utilize these principles to furnish and accessorize your area for maximum comfort and productivity.
2. Open up your space with simple design hacks.
Feeling crowded or claustrophobic can cause you stress and anxiety, affecting your performance at work. To avoid the consequences of feeling cramped, environmental psychologist Sally Augustin suggests two easy tips for making your small workspace feel much more open:
- “Lighter, brighter spaces, as well as rooms with high ceilings or those that have walls with mirrors, are perceived as less crowded.
- The perception of crowding can be reduced through the use of furniture, plants, decorative elements or pillars. These objects prevent people from feeling crowded or distracted.”
By installing windows and mirrors and decorating thoughtfully, you can turn a tiny room into a spacious sanctuary.
3. Emulate nature.
Research reveals that, “Access to nature has been shown to lower stress and anger, improve cognitive functioning and mood, and even speed recovery from surgery.”
While taking a walk outside and enjoying nature may be the best way to restore cognitive functions, just having a house plant in the office has been shown to reduce fatigue and increase attention. Incorporating materials found in nature into your office’s overall aesthetic may help re-energize you as well as brighten up the room. Renovate your space with furniture made of wood, cork or bamboo, and add accents like small plants, beeswax candles and flowers as complements. Always have the most natural lighting as possible by exposing your windows and setting up lamps that mimic sunlight.
4. Implement an ergonomics program.
How often do you get up out of your office chair and stretch, feeling all of your muscles start to loosen up? Imagine how long you have been sitting there with your muscles strained and your posture less than ideal. According to a study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, working in an office contributes to musculoskeletal disorders in the neck and upper extremities, and ergonomic workstations actually help alleviate the resulting musculoskeletal pain.
Invest in adjustable furniture and standing desks in your office, and make sure your chair, computer monitor and mouse are aligned and working in harmony. For more tips on how to make your workspace more ergonomic, check out this handout by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division.
5. Sustain a well-regulated environment.
Temperature and air quality are perhaps two of the most overlooked elements of a healthy workspace. A study by Waseda University in Tokyo found that people feel more fatigued in rooms kept at a higher temperature. Additionally, study participants in the hotter rooms required more physical and mental effort to complete tasks than those in cooler rooms. Thus, to boost your performance and keep your energy up, adjust the thermostat in your room and keep your space comfortable and cool.
Also, make sure your air quality is pristine. Sick building syndrome can develop in people when there are biological or chemical contaminants in the air, the environment is humid, and ventilation is inadequate. Sufferers develop flu-like symptoms, and long-term exposure can cause cancers, pregnancy problems and asthma. Use hypoallergenic carpets, safe paint and an air filtration system in your office, and get your air conditioning and heating vents checked regularly to avoid squandering your sick days.