I think we should first ask the question – what is on your desk? Your desk says a lot about the way you work. Have you got mounts of unfiled paperwork, drink bottle, yesterday’s dishes, and a plant? To even begin with designing an office space, we must first tackle the habits of the inhabitant(s) of the space.  This blog is for every office, big or small, commercial or home office. If you are reading this, you either want to improve your working habits, you are a designer, or you are in authority to change your entire workspace. That’s cool, I welcome everyone to this entry. When I finished university, I never thought I would be an office designer. But you know what, I got good at it. And I love it. I have the opportunity to affect one person, or thousands, all within one organisation. So lets break it down into a few stages to help you on your way with a few #PocketspaceInteriors mantras.

Stage one: De-clutter your desk.

Over the last few years you would have heard the term ‘mobile working’ or ‘activity based working’ thrown around. If you haven’t – it pretty much means an organisation providing multiple points to work instead of at your desk so they can save on the amount of desks required and your job might be in and out of the office on a day to day basis. We will get into this a bit more in stage two. But for now- the point I’m trying to get at is your desk, may not be your desk for every hour of the day due to this type of working. I make a rule of not having family photos around my desk. Whenever I look at them, I get distracted and frustrated because I want to be spending more time with them. I do have a plant however. Plants provide brain stimulation. A feeling of wellness and generates productivity. Plants are generally amazing to have in offices with the incredible attributes to the office environment with oxygen, temperature and acoustics.

Now paper is a huge issue. Do you really have to print that email? Can you not come up with a filing system within your computer for everything relating to that client or project? Please limit yourself to two folders – ingoing and outgoings. Files that you are currently working on. When you are done, scan everything, file, and put the rest in the bin. Invest in some technology like #Evernote for all your organising needs. It is your digital workspace and social filing application that I highly recommend.

The last two things are important. Have one fun, creative object on your desk. It could be bright coloured, quirky, or tactile. This will stimulate creative thinking, an emotional outlet that lightens things up. And lastly water. You need to drink it frequently to get the most out of your mind and body.

Stage two: Social spots.

This is a must have. I don’t care if you are in insurance or work for the smallest business on earth. You need an outlet you regenerate your mind three times a day. I often have worked with people that stay at their desk the whole day; perhaps venture to the kitchen for a coffee. This is unhealthy. Do you only stay on the couch at home? No, you might go for a walk, look at the garden, kitchen, bedroom, visit friends. Your mind needs to be stimulated by more than one avenue of mental activity. We get this from different zones in a workplace. Its important to not only have the staff kitchen, but make it somewhere they would actually rather eat their sandwich rather than at the desk. The ten-minute mental stimulation from being in that different zone will provide an increased productivity. It is worth investing in some great furniture if in the long-term you get an increase of productivity from 30 of your staff. You will have it paid off in no time! Not only are we talking about productivity here, but general wellbeing and job satisfaction. If you already have your staff or colleagues hotdesking, they have no sense of ownership or entitlement to the workplace. So why should they stay if they get offered a better job? The only reason would be your culture. So make sure you have that right. Do you even have a workplace culture? Offer various breakout spaces throughout the workspace, and very importantly provide them with somewhere that they can make private calls to the bank or babysitter without those beady eyes on them. 

Stage three: why a bed is no different to a chair

A healthy office means healthy workers. If you haven’t upgraded your general task chairs in ten years its time you do so.  The foam in those chairs breakdown, the mechanisms get clanky and it is the most important investment in the office. Do not by a task chair for less than $250GST. Your staff member sits in those chairs for eight hours a day. A bed is no different to a chair. I can assure you that you wouldn’t buy the cheapest bed on the market that will last two years now would you? No because you will just have to throw it away and you will be left with back issues. Good I think we are on the same page with that one!

 

Obviously with the help of space planning and interior design, good furniture, desk habits, culture, plants and varied zones you are on your way to a great workspace. These are fundamental aspects of workspace design that 64.7% of New Zealand workspaces have wrong. Hopefully you have taken something away to make your office a healthy place for everyone concerned....now go and tidy that desk....

Laura Lochhead, Pocketspace Interiors.

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