As far back as I can remember, every quarter or so, my staff and I had a major purge day. All regular work gets put on the back burner so we can concentrate on purging our desks, drawers, computers, and files of items no longer needed. I have found it’s good for the soul and it’s good for business. It’s hard to focus on your business when you have piles of items to clear off your desk (or inbox). Even if you don’t mind the mess, clearing the clutter can be incredibly cathartic and sometimes inspirational. Try it.
Once your office is clear of disorder, here are a few office design tricks to keep you working at maximum productivity.
The Open-Door Policy
Usually when I tell someone I have an open door policy, I literally mean my door is open. I thrive amidst the noise and sounds of busy people. But I know that situation is not for everyone. My partner needs a dead-quiet office set apart from everyone and her door is definitely closed.
You know whether or not you even need a door on your office. If you feel like a closed door makes you inaccessible to your staff, only close the door during certain times of the day or when you need to make an important call.
Open Office vs. Walls
Forbes ran a funny blog about why the open office trend needs to die. For most businesses, an open office is distracting, offers no privacy, and inhibits creativity and productivity. There are a few exceptions, such as a close team that needs constant interaction. Overall, if you have an open office, make sure you have a closed conference room or extra office where employees can escape. Even better, see if you can design different types of workspaces relative to the work people do. Gather opinions from the people actually doing the work.
See the Light
How important is natural light? According to a study by Northwestern University, office workers with more light exposure at the office slept longer, were more physically active, and had a better quality of life compared to office workers with less light exposure in the workplace.
If natural light is not possible, install indirect lighting. Direct lighting where 90 to 100 percent of the light is cast downward toward the work area tends to create shadows and causes eye strain. Indirect lighting distributes light equally upward and downward and reflects light off the ceiling and other room surfaces to avoid glare.
Color in the office, on your walls, and in your furniture not only says something about the culture of your business, but it can also affect your mood. Research links green to creativity and blue to productivity. Red is better for detailed work, but it may reduce analytical thinking. And yellow is a no in any environment. Before you paint your office walls, brush up on color's psychological effects.
Raise the Roof
Finally, when in doubt, remember more room is better for productivity and that also applies to ceilings. Studies show high ceilings give room occupants a sense of freedom and heighten brain activity. When shopping for office space, make sure ceilings are at least 10 feet high.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva's free TrendCast reports.