Want to have an office like Google’s that inspires its employees to work long hours while also giving them the energy to do it? Dream of a workspace that encourages crazy collaboration, innovative, risk-taking new technology?
Why not make one of your own?
Or… maybe not. Most of us aren’t world-dominating multi-billion dollar companies (yet). Our decorating budgets may be more modest. But there’s a reason Fortune 500 companies sink big bucks into designing workspaces—it can make a real difference in productivity and innovation.
Lucky for you, we’re here to give you five simple (and cheap!) ways to make wherever you work a bit more enlivening.
LET THERE BE (the right kind of) LIGHT
Aside of the office floorplan—which is something few small businesses have much control over— the next most impactful change a business can make is its workspace vibe is ambient light.
Design consultants often agree that sunlight is the most invigorating. If you’re lucky enough to have a big ol’ window, that’s the best place to move your desk. But what about those of us who only have artificial lighting to work with?
The first thing you can do is rule out fluorescent bulbs or dim lighting. The flicker of a fluorescent light can trigger headaches and too little light creates eye strain. Thankfully, companies are now making tube lights that are kinder, and there are several ways to warm up those hideous tube bulbs in case you can’t swap them out. If the overall lighting is too dim, the best option is to get a desk lamp—studies show that an adjustable, lensed lamp is best.
Numerous studies that have shown that living among plants can not only influence people’s moods for the better, but can help increase productivity.
Sure we all like looking at greenery, but it turns out there’s more to it than that. Areca palms, like those found on bamboo plants, are natural humidifiers. Snake plants, despite the scary name, are air purifiers. Lemon balm can boost mood and decrease anxiety.
You feel different when spending the day swathed in black than you do when you wear screaming yellow, right? While it might be a bit more subtle, the color that shades your environment can make just as big an impact.
The science on the influence that the color of walls can have on a person gets pretty complex, but here are the three big takeaways: blue increases mental stimulation, red raises your pulse and yellow is energizing.
No matter what the rules of the office, everyone personalizes their space to some extent; we just can’t resist the urge to put our unique stamp on our surroundings.
So go for it! Just go for it with intention. Instead of scotch taping dozens of your niece’s school photos to your cube, take the time to go through your pictures. Choose a few that bring you the most joy, and display them as you would if they were in your home. An inexpensive frame goes a long way.
Interestingly, research shows that while women tend to personalize their space with reminders of personal relationships via photos of friends or pets, men are more prone to displaying objects related to their achievements like certificates and awards.
While it is important to surround yourself with items that make you feel comfortable and reflect your style, don’t pass over a chance to showcase your accomplishments. It’s not about trying to impress other people, it’s about reminding yourself how valuable you are.
MAKE HEALTHY EASY
You don’t have to offer free yoga classes to make the office a healthier place. There are some very simple changes you can make to your work space that will help increase employees’ energy levels and help reduce absenteeism, too.
If your space doesn’t have a water cooler and buying one is out of your budget, buy a faucet water purifier or a pitcher-style filtration system. Climate control like air conditioning and heaters rob the air of moisture, contributing to dehydration. If folks don’t replenish themselves by drinking water the effects of dehydration will take a toll: headaches, sluggishness, confusion and weakness.
Similarly, lose the candy bowls and other junk food snack stations. While a sugar rush may feel good for the first 30 minutes, the subsequent crash renders the next few hours less productive.
Let the corporate gazillionaires install their ping-pong tables and hand build half-pipe skateboard ramps (which haven’t exactly ensured company success). Simple changes in decor can go a long way.
Still burning with jealousy about Google’s swanky London office? Don’t be. At least your workplace doesn’t emit a mysterious electro-magnetic field around it that causes people’s hair to stand on end. Literally.
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