The UK workforce is one of the world’s hardest working, according to a recently published list, and even tops the list amongst its European counterparts. More often than not, you’re working well above the 9-5 hour work day, likely spending more time working than sleeping.
Being able to make the most of your available workspace and having it serve you in the most efficient way possible should be one of your top goals, if you want to increase your productivity and reduce stress.
Having trolled the internet to find valuable advice to help you do this, we’ve compiled a short guide with tips and ideas on how you can maximise the available space for work and achieve a sense of ‘openness’.
1. Keep Your Desk Tidy
The old maxim holds very true. If your desk is cluttered and unorganised, it’s difficult for your mind not to be. One of the principles of hardware or interface design is that each piece of information presented to a user at the same time will compete for attention, which in turn means that the amount of attention each piece of information actually gets is smaller. To put this in a non-geeky way, this simply means that the more items you have on your desk, the longer it will take your brain to efficiently jump from one important item to another when you need it. Moreover, by limiting the amount of distractions, you can focus better on the important task at hand.
Start with the basics – keep your desk and immediate workspace as clutter-free as possible. Designate a place for everything and make a habit of storing items in their designated places each time you’ve finished using them. If you’re using a laptop, close the screen once you’re done for the day.
If you’re used to operating in this way, this may sound unnecessary or unwieldy now, but once you’ve tried it out for a few days, you’ll begin to see the benefits.
Remember – out of sight, out of mind – which in this case, can be very useful.
2. Think Green
Whilst the benefits and importance of making your carbon footprint smaller can’t be overstated, there are other advantages too. An office space with less ‘baggage’ is more agile and reduces the need for additional space for storing paperwork and filing cabinets and other hardware. By enabling this, you’re less office-bound and should the need arise, you can work remotely.
When thinking green, recycling plays a big role. A high-quality, durable compactor or baler can be rented or bought for your office space. The goal is to drive down waste disposal costs, help your organization stay compliant with UK laws and support environmentally friendly waste handling at your office/building.
3. Think On Your Feet
The majority of office workers spend most of their time with their palms glued to their computer mouse, eyes fixed on a glossy computer screen, and backs hunched over an office chair. Regardless of how ergonomic your office chair or mouse may be, this poses serious health risks in the long term, with lower back pain and Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) to name a few.
Whether it’s a meeting or working on your computer, working whilst standing up has been shown to have many advantages, and if you haven’t given this a try, then this article could be your calling to do so.
Not only does the change in body position and posture bring about improvements in analytical thinking and creativity, but standing up is less stressful for your back.
You may also find that working whilst standing helps you achieve more in less time, not to mention shorter meetings!
4. Efficient Design
This one may sound contrary to everything above at first, but bear with us…
In both the first part of this article and also now in the second part, we’ve talked about going small, becoming mobile, and working remotely. But we know that this isn’t possible for every type of business, which is why we’ll end by talking about some of the steps you can take when you can’t quite leave your office.
Get storage smart – for a lot of businesses, having and holding onto piles of paperwork is a legal requirement, and if this is the case for you, then we’d suggest you invest in storage. There are 2 ways you can do this.
The first one would be to have ample smart storage cabinets and shelves within your office. Resist the urge to go for the cheaper options as the ones that cost more are also usually the ones that work better. Smarter drawers, more space, more available types of shelves can all help in storing away as much as possible.
The other option would be to use a self-storage facility. Whilst this may not work for every business, if you have access to one in the vicinity, or have paperwork which you don’t need frequent access to but which also needs to be preserved for a stipulated period of time, using an external storage facility can be the answer.
Foldaway office furniture is useful too, especially if you’re somewhat cramped for space currently. Nowadays, there is a great range of multi-functional office furniture to choose from as well.
When fitting out your office, think of going vertical. A simple tip, we know, but one that can significantly increase your office’s storage capacity whilst reducing the amount of floor space required can make for an office with more of an open feel. Plus, little steps such as using cable trays to keep cables out of sight also make for a safer work environment.
5. The Whole Office Is Your Playground
One of the most important books in office design is Innovations in Office Design, a must-read for architects, designers and just about anyone interested in office design.
In it, the author suggests that by thinking about your entire office area as a possible workspace, you can significantly increase your productivity and output, in much the same way that an improved performance comes after a change of place. For example, rather than always making calls or taking lunch from the comfort of your chair, consider doing so near the window or elsewhere, as long as you’re not causing disruption to someone else.
You can apply the same principle in reverse; so if you’re used to taking your lunch within the break room, consider doing so somewhere else. The reasoning behind this is that any change, no matter how little, creates new connections in your brain and activates thinking akin to pushing a reset or refresh button; which in turn can help you think smarter and bring about an increase in productivity.