Is the physical environment important to you when you work or study? I find that my energy, motivation, creativity and productivity are affected by the physical space. That’s why I am on a mission to turn my home office into a beautiful, light, uncluttered and comfortable place. A couple of years ago I bought the office furniture that I really wanted: a big desk in a distressed white color and a couple of matching file cabinets. I have a comfortable swivel chair and the office equipment that I need to do my work. But I still have a long way to go. I need additional storage and bookshelves for the piles of books sitting in the corner since our move almost a year ago (the old house had built-in bookshelves). And it’s a constant battle to keep the white space on my desk visible as my papers have a propensity to close on me.
As part of my designing efforts, I’ve decided to look more into the criteria for effective office spaces suggested by the environmental psychology and ergonomics. Here's what I found:
- A good space gives you a freedom of choice of what to do and how to do it by satisfying multiple purposes. You want to be able to use space flexibly. For example, I like having a choice where to read in my office: I can sit at the desk or I can sit on a couch.
- The ability to personalize the space is important. You want an office that reflects who you are. Choosing a color theme that you like and decorating with items that you enjoy looking at can help you create a unique and exciting place.
- A good space offers privacy as well as opportunities for social interaction when you want it. I have to admit that with a 14-month old, I don't have a lot of privacy.
- It’s good to have transitions in visual stimuli because it helps to process information. For example, after looking at a document or a leaning board on the wall, you may want to look out of the window or simply stare at the blank wall to give yourself time to think. Similarly, taking a break from your computer screen to look at a favorite painting may re-energize you.
- Physical comfort is important. Invest in a good-quality chair. Your level of energy and concentration depends on a good posture.
- Pay attention to esthetics. People are happier, more energized and creative whey they are in beautiful spaces. On the opposite, they get bored and distracted easily in unattractive spaces. Need some inspiration? Check out 10 innovative workplaces shared by Chief Happiness Officer.
- Air quality is another factor that affects your performance. Our brains use up about 20% of all the oxygen that our bodies absorb. Plants are your friends when it comes to improving the air quality in your office.
- Maintain consistent temperature and humidity levels in the room. The optimum is the temperature of 70-73F and 60-70% humidity.
- Control the noise. While music may help you learn better, a beeping fax machine won’t.
- Exposure to natural light has a positive effect on health and well-being while prolonged work under the narrow spectrum artificial light with its constant pulsing can add to fatigue. Pull up those shades! If you work at your computer a lot, learn about 22 Ways to Reduce Eye Strain at Your Computer from The Lighting Blog.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with home office design. What works for you and what doesn’t?