As both common sense and the science of human behavior teach us, the environments in which we live and work, as well as the moods and attitudes of those around us, can deeply shape how we think, feel, and act. It should come as no surprise, then, that an employee’s morale and productivity owe a lot to the design of the workspace he or she inhabits, whether at home or elsewhere. This is especially so given that the average worker spends the bulk of her time in the office.
There is no one right way to design a workspace. But there are some best practices to keep in mind. Here is a brisk but deep dive into two essential, battle-tested rules of thumb for making your workspace work for you and your team.
It takes focus to get things done. And studies show that our immediate physical surroundings have an outsized impact on our ability to focus. This means that workspace features that promote focus will be rewarded with improved employee and team performance.
● Lighting: Poorly illuminated spaces promote irritability, fatigue, and an overall low level of communal energy for collaborators to draw upon (more on that below). The natural antidote is ample natural light. Failing that, plenty of lamps with natural light bulbs are a suitable workaround.
● Room color and temperature: It turns out warmer-than-average temperatures foster workplace productivity. Depending on the season, blankets and space heaters may be unlikely allies in the effort to get things done.
● Noise Level: Ambient noise is an obvious risk factor for focus and thus for sustained productivity. Tools for coping may include noise cancelling headphones, earplugs, or white noise sources via Spotify, Coffitivity, or other streaming services.
● Brainstorming: Some of the best ideas come out of nowhere. Make room for innovative improvisation without letting it undermine workflow or sustained focus. Solutions vary depending on workspace details, but any space set apart for storing ideas as they arise – and then returning to the task at hand – will do. Consider whiteboards, notepads, a team Google doc, and so on. Any clearly designated space can be revisited later for focused vetting.
Finally, it pays to explore digital tools designed to help support the collaborative professional work for which you have put so much effort into optimizing your workspace.
Collaboration software boosts productivity by facilitating communication, file sharing, and project management among multiple end-users. Typically, it does this not by replacing but by supplementing cloud storage, business communications tools like email and web conferencing, online office suites like Microsoft Office 365, and other traditional solutions.
Shared online workspace platforms are as varied as the tasks for which you may need them: tasking and keeping track of group work (Trello); creating visual idea maps or flow charts (MindMeister); basic, all-purpose project and task management for a variety of applications (Asana); and so on.
End of story: workspace finesse and workplace success are more closely tied than we may suppose. Tackle the one and the other will follow close behind.
Christian Golden, PhD, writes about tips and trends in digital marketing and social media for TrustRadius. His extracurricular interests include making music, reading comics, watching (really old) movies, and being in the great outdoors.