Could desk‑scaping boost your productivity?


In association with Regus

Search Pinterest or Instagram for #desksetup #deskinspo or #deskgoals and you’ll see hundreds of thousands of images, some featuring sleek setups with massive iMac monitors and others packed with pretty pens, retro radios and colour-coordinated stationery.

The Covid-19 pandemic has turbo-charged our obsession with curating our workspaces, and a report from Mordor Intelligence predicts that the demand for home office furniture will continue to rise globally over the next five years.

As the new world of work takes shape and more businesses adopt a hybrid model, where staff aren’t in the office full time, it’s likely that many of us will continue to work from home regularly.

So if you’re still languishing with your laptop at the kitchen table (studiously ignoring the washing up), it’s time to consider desk-scaping. Not only could curating your workspace make you more productive and boost your creativity, but it will support your health and wellbeing, too.

Separate your space

Establishing a dedicated workspace is easier for some of us than others, but whatever you can do to demarcate a specific area is well worth the effort. The human brain is wired to respond to repetition and thrive on consistency, so ‘going to work’ in the same spot repeatedly will put you in the right frame of mind.

famous study into context-dependent memory asked scuba divers to memorise random words while under water, and then again on dry land. When they were later tested to see which they could remember, it became clear that words memorised on land were easier to remember on land, while those first learned in the water were better remembered in that same environment. In other words, being in a place that you associate with work will improve your focus.

At the same time, working in a dedicated space will help you to avoid domestic distractions. Let’s face it – doing your best work can be tough when you’re staring at an overflowing laundry hamper.

Using screens, shelving units and indoor plants will help to separate your workspace from the rest of your home. Even choosing particular Spotify playlists can help to establish which areas of your property are for work and which are for downtime.

Organise your environment

Whether you’re at home, at your firm’s HQ or at a flexspace, minimising clutter is a key way to improve your productivity. When we’re surrounded by a mess – even if it’s just last week’s piles of Post-its or this morning’s coffee mug – our attention and focus are affected.

The brain functions best in an organised environment. When we’re overstimulated – if there’s too much ‘stuff’ to look at – we find it more difficult to devote our attention to the task we’re working on. Clutter is disruptive. It has a negative impact on short-term memory and the speed at which the brain can make decisions.

Put simply, those Instagrammable pen pots, shiny rose-gold paper trays and wall-mounted pin boards aren’t just for show. In fact, investing in a few accessories to help keep your workspace organised could pay dividends.

Make it personal

A tidy space doesn’t have to be a minimalist space. While some of social media’s most ‘liked’ setups are clean and austere, desk-scaping doesn’t necessarily mean depersonalising your environment.

Decorative touches that bring you comfort or joy can actually improve creativity – so go to town with photographs, personal mementoes, stylish lamps and rainbow Sharpies. Whatever works for you.

If your workspace feels barren, cold and miserable, your body will produce more of the stress hormone cortisol. Conversely, surrounding yourself with a selection of things that make you happy will minimise stress and ensure you enjoy spending time in your workspace.

Consider your health and wellbeing

Working from home during the pandemic has seen some of us based in forgotten box rooms, dusty old attics and even disused bathrooms. But, in the long term, it’s important that we consider the impact of where we work on our health and wellbeing.

Having a healthy desk setup means ensuring that your posture is supported by appropriately arranged screens and a good quality chair. Light is also crucial in helping to keep us productive – and natural daylight is much better for your body and brain than fluorescent light.

The amount of ‘real’ light you’re exposed to has a direct effect on the amount of melatonin produced by the brain, and this hormone is responsible for our levels of alertness and cognitive functionality. Sitting close to a window while you work could make a real difference to how you feel.

Pot plants, cacti and succulents, while trendy, are also proven to have real benefits in the workplace. Studies from institutions including Harvard and Exeter universities have shown that a greener office is a more productive office. This is why you’ll always find a little of the outside inside at Regus, alongside lots of lovely natural light.

Clock off

Finally, be sure to set up your workspace so that you can step away decisively when it’s time to down tools for the day. If you can close a door on your desk, then do – but even properly shutting down your laptop and doing a little light ‘housekeeping’ will help with establishing a firm line between ‘work’ and ‘home’.

Put pens and pencils back in their holders, recycle notes you don’t need, create tomorrow morning’s to-do list and water your plants. Knowing that everything is ready to come back to will make it easier to leave.

Spending some time at a flexible workspace such as your local Regus can be key if you find switching off a challenge when working remotely. It will add variety to your routine and ensure you get time away from your domestic to-do list, as well as provide opportunities for networking. Regus centres are set up with everything you need to work well, providing a comfortable and professional home from home.

Hybrid working can lead to greater productivity and a better work-life balance. Use the location finder to search for a Regus centre near you.

Chris Price