The average worker spends at least 1,800 hours in the office per year. Given all the time we spend at work– and the money our employers pay us– it’s crazy to think how little thought is put into our work environment.
At Cosmo, we believe in better sleep partially because it leads to better productivity. But we also want to make our workplace the best it can be. Here are a few things we’ve learned:
1. Unorganized people are more productive
It’s a myth that organized workspaces improve productivity. In one research comparison of “filers” vs. “pilers,” workers who let papers pile up on their desks turned out to be more productive. Why? They tended to focus more on matters at hand and were better able to handle the unexpected.
Messy workspaces have also been shown to promote creativity and innovation.
2. Plants may reduce ADHD symptoms
Plants can do a lot more than increase air quality. In one field study, desk plants improved workers’ productivity by 15%. Greenery also improves focus and happiness. There’s even evidence that green plants can reduce symptoms of ADHD.
As for picking the right plant, any large indoor plant will work, including ferns. A few medium-size or large plants should do the trick– just don’t get a tiny IKEA cactus and call it a day.
3. Cold light improves concentration
White cold light (about 4000k in temperature) has been shown to extend the amount of time students can concentrate and reduce writing errors. Normal office lights are typically only 3000k. Since you may not be able to change the light bulbs in your office, you’ll need to find a way to enjoy this benefit.
4. Tall ceilings improve creativity
Ceiling height can have different effects on your work depending on the type of task you’re performing. Although people naturally prefer high ceilings to low ceilings, low ceilings are preferable for tasks that involve detailed concentration and precision focus (such as an operating room). High ceilings promote abstract thinking and creativity (the “cathedral effect”).
If possible, choose a room with a ceiling height that fits the task. You’ll have trouble focusing on detailed problems in open atrium. This type of an environment is perfect for brainstorming with a colleague, however.
5. Dogs reduce stress and increase workplace satisfaction (duh)
There’s still a lot of research to be done in this area, but according to one small study in Virginia, workers who bring their dogs to work are more satisfied, more trusting, and show lower levels of stress. No similar research has been done for cats. I’d expect that whatever type of animal you bring to work, some level of self-control will be required.
6. There’s a good reason to hate beige walls
It’s not surprising that the colors around you have a significant impact on your mood. According to one study at the University of Texas (summarized here), white, beige, and grey are likely to induce feelings of sadness and depression. Other colors can have positive benefits:
- Light green and blue: improve efficiency, focus, and sense of well-being.
- Red: increases heart rate and blood flow upon sight.
- Light yellow: provides a sense of optimism
7. It’s not just you– privacy is important
Despite what open office advocates say, you should expect a level of privacy at work. This isn’t so you can slack off– privacy has been proven to increase focus and productivity. Maybe there’s something about the feeling of always being watched that hurts our productivity.