The human sciences teach us what we probably already know: we are creatures of our environment. The spaces we occupy, together with the behavior and attitudes of others in our orbit, have a profound influence on our own actions, thoughts, and feelings. Little wonder that where and how an employee works, at home or in the office where the average worker spends the majority of her time, deeply shape her morale and productivity.
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.
Keep Things in Focus
Without focus, your workday will involve a lot of wasted time. And focus is another area of our lives that studies show is impacted by our surroundings. When thinking about how to organize your office or workspace, something to consider is how the layout, design, and overall vibe of that space will affect the focus of those inhabiting it.
Key focus factors include:
1. Room color and temperature: Odd as it may seem, productivity thrives in warmer-than-average temperatures. Space heaters and blankets will earn their keep as cuddly comrades, especially during colder months.
2. Noise Level: It’s hard to focus when you can’t hear yourself think. Avoid ambient noise in the office with earplugs or noise cancelling headphones. Or combat it directly with white noise streamed from Spotify, Coffitivity, or similar digital services.
3. Lighting: Fatigue and irritability are the enemies of focus and therefore undermine productivity. They rear their heads in poorly lit spaces, so natural illumination is an easy first line of defense against them. Where natural light can’t be had, generously supplement with lamps that use natural light bulbs.
4. Brainstorming: Many innovative ideas crop up when least expected. Improvisation won’t undermine focus if there are tools in the work environment for quickly documenting brainstorms without breaking stride. Simple but effective solutions include notepads, white boards, cloud storage apps, shared Google docs, or any space where ideas can be stored and revisited later for careful review.
Optimizing your work environment for focus is a big step, but there’s more to be done. The world’s most focused team can accomplish more when armed with the latest digital tools designed to give its efforts an extra boost.
Collaboration tools foster greater productivity via improved communication, easy file sharing, and transparent, streamlined workflow.
Project management software supplements web conferencing, email, online office suites, and other traditional business tools. Trello, for example, helps your team prioritize action items and monitor the flow of work through your team, and MindMeister can be used to visualize ideas via digital maps or flow charts. Asana and Huddle are workhorses of project and task management suitable for a whole host of collaborative uses.
The bottom line is that there’s a close relationship between the space where your team does its work and the quality of the work it does. Investing in the former will give you a great return.
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.