Yes, I have a degree in Interior Design, and yes I have worked both in Commercial and Residential design projects, but this also means I’ve spent a LOT of time at a desk in front of a computer screen. This may surprise you because all you see on Instagram and Pinterest feeds is the beautiful end result of pretty patterns and colors, throw pillows and curtains, well-constructed cabinetry and dazzling tile floors.
Little do you know, it takes hours in front of a computer creating concepts, revising concepts, doing digital renderings, editing said renderings, drafting floor plans, creating purchase orders, emailing sales reps, emailing clients… The list goes on and on.
So, believe me when I say, I know how exhausting it can be working 9-5 every day staring at a bright screen for hours and, in some offices, all of this happens in a compressed space or even (dare I say it) a cubicle… So outdated. Though there are a lot of new office spaces that are breaking this trend of cubicles and limited desk space, a lot of firms out there aren’t large enough to afford the new and improved designs based on the new and improved research that is best for our health. So we need a solution that won’t break the bank for you and your company.
You need a way to get your work done and feel less cluttered. You need visually recharging items in your line of sight to keep yourself de-stressed. And you need to love your workspace so that you love your workplace!
Follow these simple and even cheap ways to amp up your desk space, renew your love of work, and feel the cumbersome fatigue be lifted at the end of a long workday.
#1 Optimize your Seat.
Take care of your back. Take care of your bum! When I worked in the High-End Residential design field we were creating beautiful, luxurious vacation homes with the highest quality products, and I had a REALLY crappy desk chair. I actually slipped a disk in my lower back and racked up chiropractic bills because of it.
The office chair I had was forcing me to lean forward constantly to relieve pain in my upper back, thus causing pain in my lower back. It’s not normal to sit that way. There have been SO many ergonomic studies that companies like Knoll, Teknion, SitOnIt and more have quoted when selling their chairs because those studies prove a good lumbar support is KEY to a healthy desk job life!
From The Future Of Ergonomic Seating: “Both larger ‘macro –movements’ and very small ‘micro-movements’ are essential for our well-being. The only truly effective way to maintain a seated posture for extended durations is to continuously cycle through a range of natural, centered and healthful positions. This requires a chair that allows users to dynamically shift between a range of stable postures.” (Lueder, 2005).
When I took a job in the commercial design field after my residential experience I had a greater desk space and better seating situation. I specifically had this Herman Miller classic that has so many different ways to adjust and customize your seating position that it was perfect for the day in and day out of sitting. Highly recommended from yours truly.
#2 Bring the Outside In.
What better way to do so with plant life? And what type of plan survives even in the toughest environments…? Delectable succulents. One of my favorite incentive gifts that I got from a furniture sales representative while working in commercial design was a succulent that I kept at my desk. It added a little more color to my every day, and there is just something about seeing a piece of the outdoors while you’re stuck indoors that rejuvenates one’s self psychologically.
There are even these amazing plants that actually purify the air surrounding you. Might be witchcraft…. But a lot of my past co-workers still had them sitting on their desks just. in. case…
#3 Take Your Home to Work.
Have you ever had a boss tell you to leave your problems at home, or not to bring personal problems to work? For me, I would have the feeling at some places of employment that if I talked about my personal life that it would interfere with my work life. But then, your boss sees a drop in your productivity at work if things aren’t good at home and you have no way of telling them because of their “no personal stuff” rule. Sounds counterproductive, right?
Where I most previously worked, they were very clear from the get-go that family mattered and that family came first if there were ever an emergency. And we (the employees) all LOVED working there because of this motto. I wasn’t afraid to tell my boss that I needed a personal day if things were rough at home. And, ultimately, I ENJOYED working there because they were so respectful of my home life and family needs and missed LESS work because of the caring culture they provided.
So, how do you try and change the environment at your work to be more personable? Take those adorable pictures of your kids and family that you paid loads of money for and plaster them on or around your desk space. Get frames, get printouts, heck, get your own printer so when your wife or hubby sends you a selfie of them and your baby you can immediately print it out and tape it to your screen. #longestafflinkever
See those smiling warm friendly faces of the fam constantly reminding you of the reason why you work so hard, and give your co-workers and boss the chance to get to know them better.
#4 Raise Your Screen
Have you ever seen an elderly person with an extreme hunchback and told yourself “My back will never get that bad…”? And before you know it you are looking at your recent family photos and see your posture is completely shot… You’re on the road to a hunchback, my friend.
Let’s fix it NOW by raising up that screen that forces you to lean forward and hunch. Once I did this in my own office at my own desk, I can’t tell you how much lighter I felt. Buying or constructing some sort of way to be looking up at your computer screen instead of down can make all the difference in the way you feel at the end of the day. Good posture is key to better productivity and combating that nasty fatigue we talked about before. With an L shaped desk you have more options to place your screens in a neutral position, without causing you less room to work on more physical materials like jotting down in a notebook.
#5 Add Counter Light
Last, but surely not least, ease the strain the computer screen puts on your eyes with a lamp that softens the harsh blue light with a soft incandescent accent. I would highly recommend getting an incandescent bulb to cast a warm glow instead of the cool light that a fluorescent bulb gives off.
And don’t be afraid to make this a personal item that tells your surrounding work mates a little more about YOU! This is your time to shine. For instance, I am completely in love with the vintage look, but you may be more into the classics or even a more modern industrial feel. Just be sure to keep it work appropriate… No leg lamps…
That’s all, folks! I hope your days lighten when you implement these design tips to improve your desk space. Keep working hard. I know it can get exhausting, and mundane, but if you are supporting yourself and others you are making a great impact. Share a smile with your fellow desk friends and keep moving forward for family, faith and financial well-being! Don’t sweat the small stuff and remember that we work so we can play, not the other way around.