It’s a great feeling to have a workspace that you can call your own. It could be an office, a large commercial space, or a desk, but what matters is your ability to claim control of that space. This can make a huge difference in how you feel at work, since a smart workspace design can optimize productivity and boost your motivation. As you’ll soon see, designing your space well is not only about looks, but about function as well.
Workspace Design for Your Sake
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
– Steve Jobs
There are three things that need to be considered when strategizing your workspace design: aesthetics, practicality and health. Remember that in this article we’re talking about the right design for you, and not about pleasing others.
This one is the easily the most fun of the three. It is also the easiest to get carried away with.
It’s important that your space looks good to you. Everybody has different tastes, and it’s impossible to please everyone. So why not aim for the stars and do what you can with what you have? Both a minimal aesthetic or a hyper-decorative one will stand out if you do it well. Picking a look and dedicating yourself to it is the best way to rock it. A half-attempt will be noticed.
Understand the limits of what you can do with your space. Maybe it’s just a desk, for example, and your employer would be incredibly disappointed if you were to drill a hole in it. Often, workspace decoration is a careful balance between professionalism and personalization.
Of course the danger in this is getting lost in the fun. Being excessively dedicated to designing a workspace that looks good is counter-productive. This doesn’t mean change is impossible once you’ve got something going, but it does mean that change should happen within reason.
Think of it as architecture. Ornaments are nice, but a building cannot stand without a solid frame or foundation. This brings us to the next consideration.
Having what you need exactly where you need it is crucial to maintaining a steady pace of work. This is why the aesthetic decisions should be made to work around issues of function and practicality. Think of it as positioning the gears in a machine so that it runs smoothly.
Again, organizational structures will change from person to person. But that is no excuse for not having an organizational structure. It’s essential to think carefully about how you work best, and to organize your space around this. Even if you don’t work well within rigid systems, it’s important not to give up, and to keep trying until you find what works for you.
Self-awareness is crucial here. As a simple example, if you know that your phone distracts you, then have a drawer or box nearby where you can keep it when you don’t need it. You can always take it a step further and leave a note on it to remind you when you can pick it up again.
For me personally, work of any kind used to drag on forever. I would keep checking my watch to see when a shift was over or how much longer I would devote to a project, but its hands never seemed to move. A friend pointed out to me that the watch itself could be a big part of the problem. It took too much of my attention, and I became more fixated on seeing it move than on working. Understanding that there is more than one way to manage time was crucial to me changing.
Some people might consider health a part of practicality, but its importance has largely been neglected in schools and workplaces. It’s fairly common knowledge now that spending most of every day in a chair is terrible for you. It wrecks your back and drains your motivation.
Considering your physical and mental health in how you arrange your space is vital.
There are many things to consider about where you work: do you have a space to stretch every now and again (especially if you are constantly dealing with keyboards, pens or brushes)? Do you have the option of a standing desk? What about an exercise ball? Looking into everyday additions to the office to improve your physical health can transform your life for the better.
When it comes to your mental health, it’s important to consider how much you want to interact with other people and how often you should take small breathers to socialize (for me it’s about every 45 minutes, and for no more than 5-10 minutes). Design considerations can help you control these distractions too, like keeping a pair of headphones nearby to signal when you’re not in the mood for casual conversation. You could even be more blatant and use a “Do Not Disturb” sign.
When you design something, you don’t just design the way it looks, but how it is used as well. Designing your office, studio or desk to match your aesthetic, practical and health-based needs is a must for boosting productivity and comfort.
Remember that these are the factors to consider when designing your workspace for yourself — but that doesn’t mean you should think only about yourself! In my next post, I’ll talk about workspace design for the sake of your coworkers.