Research proves the benefits of personalising your work space, so why are some offices still reluctant to let staff decorate their desks – and could co working be the answer?
The conventions of ‘office life’ still hold true for many: beige walls, strip lights and the monotonous chug of the photocopier – it’s not exactly inspiring.
Yet studies into workplace productivity show that staff members who are entitled to a plant or picture in their cubicle perform 15% better than those who aren’t, and that figure rises to 25% for employees who are given free decorative reign. With such conclusive data, why are some offices reluctant to embrace the change?
The answer lies in both the past and present, a combination of entrenched management styles and the current economic climate.
Throughout the 80s and early 90s, management theory espoused that sparse work. Personal trinkets were thought to distract employees from the task at hand while a clean, bare cubicle was considered next to godliness. Many of today’s managers still prescribe to such doctrines in the belief that stability trumps individuality.
It’s also true to say that offices have suffered from post-recession cut backs in the past decade. Now, with Brexit looming, the emphasis is on streamlining and cutting costs rather than comforting and homely touches. A rise in hot-desking, another cost cutting exercise, means staff do not have a permanent desk to call their own, much less to personalise.
Desk space: a home from home
Apart from being statistically redundant, the less-is-best approach doesn’t account for the fact that many of us are working longer than ever. Londoners work longer hours than the rest of country, completing a 33-hour work-week on average compared with 31 hours in the rest of the UK.
If we are spending more time at our desks than in our homes, it makes sense that we should create a space that is pleasing and meaningful, and enhances our sense of identity. Having familiar things in sight helps us to engage with the space around us; we feel enriched and are more positive, and this produces better work.
They also offer a sense of ownership over our work space, which is even more vital in open plan offices where lack of privacy invites interference, degrading mental health and work flow. This can be counteracted by giving staff a sense of personal autonomy and control of the space where they work.
Creative co working
This is where co working spaces come in. We are the ‘digital nomad’ generation, able to work from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection (and a coffee machine…). Many of us clamouring for something more than the occasional hot desk but with less commitment than a traditional office space: a work space that looks and feels permanent without the contract.
Shared offices offer members desks on a month-by-month basis. Members get their own desk as well as secure storage space and an element of privacy.
They provide flexibility and stability, community that isn’t ridden with office politics and a professional work environment where you can still express your individuality.
How to decorate your desk
Feeling inspired? Try these 5 easy ways to dress up your desk
Go green. Plants generate oxygen, which increases concentration, and brings the outside in – a godsend for dark, winter days when we don’t leave the building. Try something low maintenance like a Peace Lily; it thrives in low-light and helps to remove toxins from the air.
Picture this. Familiar faces are a reminder of life outside the office, trigger happy memories and give us something – or somebody – to work for. Lalalab lets you print your photos in a range of formats and for added pizzazz, pop them in frames like these ones from Ikea and hang them with picture hanging strips.
Get comfy. Personalising your work space is as much about how you feel as what you see. Ensure your computer monitor is at the correct eye level; adjust your chair for your height and support and give yourself space and time to get up and stretch regularly. Check out Ergotron for helpful tips to help you perform your own work space assessment.
Take note.If you’re lucky enough to get thank you or congratulation notes in the course of your career, put them on your wall. They will serve as a motivating reminder that you’re doing well and that your work is valued. Better yet, send one to one of your clients.
Don’t be a (plain) mug. A personal mug is not only aesthetically pleasing, we associate it with comfort and self-care and it’s a chance to show off your personality. We love the selection at Trouva, especially this reusable, bamboo cup by Ecoffee.Back to Blog