The era of the cubicle farm is officially over. With so many workers engaging with companies as independent contractors and remote workers these days, the demand for personalized work environments is skyrocketing. Even health science supports the idea that employees should make the office environment their own. Whether you work in an office building or at home, here are five strategies for aligning your work environment to your personal needs.
1. Build Form Around Function
No two tasks are the same, so why should work environments be cookie-cutter? A space optimized for content writers will look nothing like a transportation company office, nor should it. Activity-based office design is one answer to the issue of versatility that’s been catching on recently. This design philosophy involves allowing employees to float around the office to the spaces and configurations that best suit their current task-based needs. Another more common practice is to simply design the entire space with a thought towards the exact processes, workflow, and type of activity planned for specific zones of the structure.
A great example of this concept is in guard shack office construction. Designs exist that incorporate 360-degree visibility, bullet proof windows, bright spotlights, and other features that provide protection for the security personnel stationed there, while still taking into account the comfort of the guard (which cuts fatigue and increases alertness). This holistic approach is the heart of contemporary workspace design.
2. Utilize Ergonomic Design
Office ergonomics is a scientific discipline in which facts about how our bodies interact with our environment are leveraged to optimize personal efficiency. For example, an employee stationed at a computer should be able to sit at a 90-degree angle. Their feet should have a place to rest as well, and a chair that’s improperly fitted to the desk configuration can cause distraction. An important thing to remember is that this process isn’t one-size-fits-all. Allowing workers to configure their stations with respect to their bodies is important. The bottom line is that ergonomics is about fitting the environment to the person, rather than expecting the person to conform to the environment.
3. Put Color Psychology to Work
The use of color in interior design can have a large psychological effect on workers and clients alike. Most workers aren’t aware that the color blue is known to have a calming effect or that some scientists suggest that the color orange increases oxygen uptake to the brain. Classrooms are often yellow because this color stimulates creativity and positivity in students. If you’re working from home instead of in a more traditional shared space, consider repainting the areas you use for work as well as the ones you use to cool down afterward.
4. Get Organized
Automation is also helping to create a revolution in workplace organization. Beyond the basics like boxes and filing cabinets, there are plenty of digital solutions for workplace organization. Accounting software is one of the most popular tools, as are sales automation systems like customer relationship management (CRM) programs. Robotic process automation is a subset of the larger industry of business process automation and describes the use of chatbots and other autonomous programs to handle everything from customer service to auditing. Take a good look at your business processes and see if they could benefit from automation.
5. Work With Nature
Sustainability isn’t a buzzword anymore; it’s a way of building a business in alignment with the larger world in the interest of efficiency. The most obvious step that businesses can take here is to use green energy sources. The cost of solar panels varies widely, but commercial production of solar energy reached $0.11 per kilowatt-hour back in 2017, beating predictions and making it competitive with oil, with a fraction of the price volatility. Don’t forget the simplest step of all: incorporating nature into your workspace directly by getting houseplants. NASA science has long shown that certain plants like the dwarf date palm, spider plant and English ivy remove formaldehyde and other dangerous chemicals from the air, so invest in this low-cost way of promoting health in the office.
Personalizing office design isn’t just good for yourself and the rest of the workforce. The payoff in efficiency makes customized workspaces a force for progress in every industry.