As an avid walker, I happen past many offices, retail and commercial premises on a daily basis. And it never ceases to amaze me just how many of them seem to be (to put it bluntly!) completely dull, lifeless and depressing.
Another thing I find interesting is that these premises often belong to small enterprises – those who have the most direct control and say over:
- what their workspace looks like,
- how customers and clients experience it,
- what it says about their brand, and;
- how it impacts on their overall productivity and happiness.
Creating a productive workspace for your home office or business needn’t be an expensive or laborious exercise. In fact, planning and designing interior spaces can be a lot of fun!
So what are the key ingredients of a productive workspace that inspires and motivates?
Just like anything involving personal taste, the combination of key factors that work are not going to be the same for everyone. That said, there are some common, low effort, high impact features I’ve observed over the years that seem to make a sizeable difference:
- Greenery – Plants add so much charm and life to any workplace, but they are so often completely forgotten! They are cheap, lovely to look at and extremely calming. Many studies have also found they effectively reduce office pollution levels. If you’re not a green thumb or are a serial plant killer there are many very low-maintenance indoor plants available.
- Open, light space – No one likes darkness while they’re working, nor do they like the feeling of being cramped or claustrophobic. Keeping a workspace open, airy and light and ensuring there is plenty of room to walk around and interact with others is critical. A view of the outdoors is also optimal, no matter where you’re seated or what your position in the corporate hierarchy. (Broom closets masquerading as offices be gone!)
- Artwork – Don’t be afraid to get some colour on those walls! Websites like Society6 and Etsy make it super easy to buy affordable, contemporary art for your workplace and also support independent artists at the same time. Nothing eradicates creativity more quickly than a big, uninterrupted expanse of white walls!
- Ample heating and cooling – This one is kind of a no-brainer. Anyone too cold or too hot is not going to work productively. Even if you can’t afford a state of the art split system, a convection heater or a simple fan can make a lot of difference to your ability to concentrate on work.
- Something individual, quirky and fun – Bring things into your workplace that are uniquely you. Be it a clock, a hat stand, a light for your desk, some books or CDs, an ornament, a few picture frames, a jar of your favourite lollies … the options are endless. Anything that makes the environment less sterile and more familiar and welcoming is a good thing.
- A place to zen out – Not often sighted in the average workplace, things like beanbags, comfy chairs, large cushions or a comfortable sofa provide somewhere to sit and contemplate work away from the confines of your desk. Areas furnished with these items seem less formal and stuffy and give a sense of homeliness.
- An outdoor space – I know this isn’t always practical, especially if you’re just starting out and have a limited budget, but proximity to an outdoor space of some description is always lovely. Even if it’s just a balcony, nearby park or window looking out to a garden. Somewhere to walk and sit for five minutes is always good for the soul. Somewhere close to good coffee is even better!
So where to start?
Create a simple mood board of images of workspaces you like and include colour palettes, furniture and other décor. This is a great way to channel your aesthetic preferences if you’re unsure about what might work for you or your particular space and websites like niice.co can help you do this quickly and easily.
You can then use your mood board to inform your buying decisions when purchasing items and curating your space.
What do you enjoy most about your workspace? What features make it a more enjoyable and productive workspace environment for you?