Tips for Transforming Your Office Space
We spend the majority of our waking hours at work, which means that most of us also spend the majority of our waking hours in stark gray fortresses with tangled wires at our feet, hand-me-down cabinets, scattered Post-It notes, and a miscellaneous melting pot of office supplies underneath a harsh fluorescent glare. It is within these dreary confines that we are expected to be our best and brightest, our most creative, and our friendliest, but it’s no surprise that it sometimes seems like a struggle.
For maximizing morale and productivity, our offices should be comfortable and inspiring, according to Amy Bloom-Coleman, the owner of the design and staging company Spun Design. She shared a few tips for how to whip workspaces into shape.
Problem: A Difference of Taste
Solution: When you have a lot of preferences and personalities to please, it can seem impossible to do so by hanging up one large piece of art—and that’s because it is. “You should create a wall of interest instead,” Amy says. “Rather than using one piece of art, which no one will ever agree on, several smaller pieces give the opportunity to please everybody and make them happy to be there.”
Problem: Ugly Carpeting
Solution: As much as we want to rip up drab carpet and lay down shiny hardwood in its bland wake, what do you do when that isn’t an option? “What you do is try to bring everyone’s eyes up instead,” Amy says. “Some decor on the walls does wonders, and you can detract from a bad carpet with a fresh throw rug.”
Problem: Desk Clutter
Solution: A variety of storage solutions are the best way to organize your office space. Desk shelves, bulletin boards, filing cabinets, and drawers all serve different purposes. Aiming for a minimalist look might seem smart, but the reality is that all of your papers can’t live in a hidden folder and will ultimately end up strewn across your desk, so make sure that you have some easy-access and easily displayed spots for your belongings. The more organized you are, the more productive you’ll be.
“People always want to catch up so that they can live their lives,” Amy says. “When people have things that are cluttered in the corner or hanging on the wall with tape, they are always telling themselves that they’ll ‘get to it,’ so they always feel like they’re behind. When you have work to do, that’s catch up alone, let alone having work to do and having to straighten up your office. Ideas flow better when the need to organize isn’t hanging over your shoulders.”
Problem: A Lack of Personality
Solution: A bare workspace can seem cold and clinical—employees should be invited to settle in and express themselves. Hanging up photographs is a quick way to make people feel at home, but Amy warns that they pictures shouldn’t just be stuck in frames or taped to the wall.
“Matte your photos in their frames to avoid everything feeling like grandma’s house,” she suggests.
If new furniture or paint jobs aren’t feasible, small pops of color can add fun and intrigue, and the addition of plants—both real and fake—keep things fresh. “Fake plants have come a long way—there are some that really pass the test and help bring in the feeling of being outdoors,” says Amy.
Problem: Very Limited Budget
Solution: Sometimes, the answer isn’t even adding anything. “Coco Chanel says to look in the mirror before you leave the house and take something off,” Amy says. “You can do the same thing with your office—identify what you don’t need and do away with it. Then look around and see what you can rearrange. Change the way desks, tables, and chairs are facing, move the water cooler, or let an unused piece of furniture in one room find a new function in a different room. Be creative with what you already have.”
Problem: Too Many Things Need Upgrades
Solution: When you know that a lot of work needs to be done, it can often seem daunting to even start, but you don’t have to do everything at once for an office refresh to be worth it. “Just fix the first two things that catch your eye when you enter the space,” Amy suggests. “Don’t worry about the tiny things or the things in parts of the office where people rarely go.”