No matter how much you wish, pray and hope sometimes you can’t choose your office space and that’s really tough. Whether you work in a cubicle, share an office or have been moved to a less than ideal work space know that you aren’t alone, many people feel stuck in less than ideal work conditions but there are ways that you can cope.
Although it has been proven that access to natural light, fresh air and an escape from florescent lighting is better for employees many offices have not made these small changes to improve the working lives of their employees. Sometimes the lack of change is due to a lack of resources and other times there might be intentions for change and plans for a renovation that is taking a little longer than anyone would like.
Whatever the situation, there are things that you can do to take control of the situation and improve your experience of your office space. You may not be able to kick up a fuss that results in you getting moved to your own office oasis, but you can take control of how you view and experience your space by making small changes to brighten your office and change its energy.
1. Clean up and make space for yourself:
When I inherited my current office space it was a mess, having been uninhabited for a few months during the transition of staffers. There was lots of dust and odd and ends piled up everywhere unmarked and unexplained. So my first task was to clean, clean, clean.
I cleaned and organized my desks, the drawers, table tops and computer. I wiped down all surfaces, took everything out of the drawers and cupboards and off of the floors. This helped me to understand what was in my new space and what could be disposed of, recycled and what needed to be stored for use at a later date. By cleaning every corner of my office space I got to understand the space better and see the potential there for change.
2. Turn down bad lighting and creative solutions :
A huge obstacle to embracing my space was the bad lighting. I have no windows and very little ventilation, so my office space can feel a bit like ta dungeon, in fact in the depths of despair I actually nicknamed it that. But one thing that really changed my experience of the space was improving on the lighting.
After consulting with both our Finance person and my office mate I had the office electrician in to remove half of our overhead fluorescent lighting, greatly reducing them daily hum we hear. At the same time, I also brought in my Seasonal Effectiveness Disorder (SAD) light to imitate the natural sunlight I was missing and keep me alert and keep my mood high. Turning on my SAD lamp for one hour in the morning has really helped to keep the blues away.
Once those improvements were in I ended my lighting overhaul by requesting a non-fluorescent standing lamp with adjustable fixtures, so I could control where light is directed when I was seated or standing at my desk. My new lamp projects light to my desk, up to the ceiling and out behind me, surrounding me with warm lighting and eliminating the need to turn on the overhead lights unless I really want to.
3. Add some colour to the walls:
As tempting as it is sometimes to take a mallet and create my own DIY skylight, I resist the urge and instead have brightened my work space by placing colour on the walls in the form of artwork and graphics.
Being cost conscious, I wanted to give the office space a pick me up but didn’t want to sink my hard earned cash into an expensive workplace makeover, I took to Pinterest to find the most colourful and inspiring print-outs to put up on my cubical walls. I found some really lovely free prints with quotes that spoke to me and sayings that reminded me that things really weren’t so bad. Once I had printed out my top five, in full colour, I placed them right where my eyes drift when I take a break from my computer screen, look up to consult my notes and where my eyes focus when someone stops by my desk to ask a question.
4. Make sure you have air flowing
I don’t know about you but I find my whole perception of life changes when I open a window. I love the feeling of cool air drifting in through the window or the smell of a spring breeze. However, sometimes having a window that opens or having a window at all is not possible. When that happens I try to get creative, asking myself how can I trick my body into thinking its getting fresh air?
The answer I have found most effective is equip yourself with a small fan. Whether it’s a small portable blade that plugs into your iPhone or a small desktop fan, turning on a fan a few times a day is key to keeping your space feeling fresh and welcoming. Every morning when I arrive at work one of the first things I do is turn on the fan to get things moving and energize the office space.
5. Stay supported, active and comfy
You are going to be there for at least seven hours everyday so you might as well be comfy. Equip your workstation with the things you need to be comfortable and feel supported. For me this means having a standing desk, a blanket and a chair that allows me to keep proper alignment to reduce any aggravation to my neck injury.
Having a workspace that is as ergonomically ideal as possible allows me to do my best work because I am not wasting lots of energy on massaging and heating my neck or managing my pain.
Although standing desks are not always possible, no matter how medically needed, a quick Google search will help you find resources to life hack your workspace so that you change the way you are sitting through the day and are as supported as possible. Make sure whatever adjustments you make that you take into account your comfort and physical needs while stationed in your cubicle or office.