Corporate offices, no matter how cool, sleek and well-furnished they may be, don't always feel homey or motivating. Most windowless settings come complete with wilting potted plants, painful fluorescent lights, and stale air. When I made the leap from a corporate office to entrepreneur and began setting up my home office, I knew I needed something different.
It's been over a decade since I left the traditional workplace and while being an entrepreneur has its ups and downs, I can say with conviction that I've never been more productive and my bank account happier. I credit maximizing my home workspace for comfort and productivity as part of the reason I've been able to perform at my peak. You don't need a large space or dedicated space to be productive, but your space does need to work for you and not against you.
Since summers are typically quieter in the office as vacations take starring roles and out-of-office messages pop up daily, now is a great time to take stock of your workspace and gauge what's not working or what you can do to improve it. For me, it's finally investing in a standing desk, something I've been putting off because who has time to research, have it shipped and built?
Whatever your budget or time constraints, here are three things I've learned as I've set up my home office space, which can be applied to any office, too.
1. Know Your Preferences
A friend recently visited my home and scanned my home office space. He thought I was crazy to have my desk in front of my house, near large windows since it's so busy outside and he felt it'd be distracting.
While I have a dedicated room in my house for my office that I originally took up as residence, after a couple of years, I moved my desk to a front room in my house because of the picturesque windows and active outdoors. I can't listen to music in the background like some of my friends and I do need quiet time to focus, but I also need to feel like I'm not in a dungeon.
From my desk, I can see cardinals landing on my front yard tree or my neighbor's cat crouching in the bushes, waiting for prey. The room with a door made me feel disconnected from the world. I needed my room with a view.
For others, temperature, lighting and noise conditions can affect their productivity, according to research shared at The 2nd International Building Control Conference in 2011 on "An Overview of the Influence of Physical Office Environments towards Employees" and published in Procedia Engineering.
"Finally, a comfortable working environment is important to enable employees to focus and do their job perfectly," the report states. "This will ensure the quality of life at work as well as performance of office workers for better organizational performance."
Figuring out what's important to us, whether it's reducing noise or getting better lighting for our space, can help us maximize our productivity and happiness level.
2. Get a Good Seat
This is another thing on my to-do list: get a better, more ergonomic task chair. Sitting at a computer all day is brutal on our bodies. I know because I've had to do penance at the physical therapist's office twice a week for months last year. I've taken to heart my therapist's recommendations and put into practice regular breaks but I need to invest in a new chair, preferably one that moves up and down so once I get my standing desk, it'll work with it.
A year-long study by Steelcase found people who used their Leap chair and office ergonomics training increased their productivity by 17.8 percent.
Where we sit and put pressure affects our body and that, in turn, affects our productivity because if our body is in pain, we can't focus on the task at hand.
Transforming your office space doesn't have to involve a major upheaval. From simple actions such as changing where you sit to investing in bigger ticket items and updating what you sit on can dramatically improve your productivity.