1. Personalise Your Space
When you work from home, the whole space is yours, so personalisation is easy. But when you are in the office, personalising your desk can significantly affect your happiness. How much personalisation you can add will depend on where you work, but just little touches can improve your mood. Perhaps it’s a picture, your favourite mug, some colourful stationery or anything that makes you smile. If you hot desk and can't leave your personalisation overnight, you can always take something small that you can pack in your bag to take home every evening.
2. Add Plants to Your Desk
Plants not only look nice on your desk but can also have a wide range of additional benefits. A study by the University of Exeter has shown that plants in an office make employees happier and more productive. In fact, the study showed that productivity increased by 15% with plants. Some plants can also help improve air quality, so there are many reasons to add a plant to your desk, whether in the office or at home.
Choose a low-maintenance plant, especially if you leave it in the office when you're not there. Succulents, bamboo, or a peace lily are all good options.
3. Keep Your Desk Clean
Ever heard that a tidy workspace equals a tidy mind? Well, it's true! Ensure your desk is clutter-free and clean to improve your work environment. Clutter only distracts you and makes you unhappy, so have a way of organising your bits. Make sure you have a wipe down of your desk every evening to keep it clean.
You may not know this, but your keyboard is actually the dirtiest place at your desk, and it's not the easiest place to keep clean either. Use some sellotape between the keys to pull out any debris; you can also use a toothbrush to give it a good clean.
Walking into a clean and neat desk puts you in a good headspace at the start of the day, so you'll be ready for whatever your work throws at you.
4. Take Regular Breaks
Sitting at your desk, staring at your screen for 8 hours a day, is a sure way not to be productive. Make sure you take your entire lunch break away from the desk and take smaller breaks when needed. Breaks, especially your lunch break, give you time to refuel so you can get back to your work with more energy.
Getting away from your desk can also help your overall wellbeing. The NHS recommends that you set a timer to stand up every 30 minutes so that you are sitting less. Even if you just stand for a few minutes, it can make a difference in how you feel. You could walk around your home or get outside for a few minutes to clear your head. When in the office, walk over to the colleague to whom you want to ask a question instead of pinging a message.
Sometimes, just moving a little will help you get back to it. You could try some simple stretches at your desk. This will give you a break and help relieve any work-related pain.
You could also make the most of your lunch breaks by getting outside. Why not go for a walk or bike ride? If you find it hard to start work in the morning, go for a brisk walk to clear away the cobwebs, putting you in a good place to start work.
5. Have Healthy Snacks to Hand
Keeping yourself fuelled throughout the day is vital to staying productive, so having healthy snacks on the deck can keep you well-fed and energised throughout the day. Even though you may think you're "just sitting", your brain will be doing lots of work, and your brain needs fuel to do this work. You're better off with healthier snacks too, as these will keep you fuelled for much longer than unhealthy, sugary options. And healthy snacks don't have to be boring; check out our ideas for healthy snacks to take to the office for some tasty inspiration.
6. Stay Hydrated
We all know that staying hydrated is important, but when you're at your desk all day, it can be hard to remember to drink water. Not only do you need to drink water for health reasons, but staying hydrated helps with productivity too.
One of the easiest ways to remember to drink water is to always have a water bottle or glass of water on your desk. Keep refilling it as soon as it is empty. Drinking more water will keep you happy and help you stay focused at work. If you struggle with remembering to drink water, check out our tips for staying hydrated at work.
If you go into an office, ask for office water dispensers to be placed around the office so that you and your colleagues can easily stay hydrated.
7. Allow Yourself to Fidget
You might have been told to stop fidgeting when you were at school, but allowing yourself to fidget when you feel the need will actually help you to concentrate. Research has shown that fidgeting increases blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that helps with concentration.
Make your desk a place where you can fidget easily without distracting others (tapping your fingers might cause other people to lose concentration) by having fidget aids, such as a stress ball or fidget spinner. One study showed that allowing students to use fidget spinners made it easier for them to ignore distractions, and so were better able to concentrate on their tasks. So, having a fidget aid within reach will allow you to sit back and think when necessary without distracting others.
8. Put the Phone Away
There's no denying that your phone is a big distraction, so one of the best office hacks to improve your work environment is simply putting your phone out of reach. Put it in your bag or locker when in the office or a different room when at home. Or, at the very least, turn off all notifications during your work day.
When it comes to distractions, it's not just phones that can pull you out of a task. Emails and messages from colleagues can be just as distracting. So, turn notifications off and set time aside to check these and respond.
9. Sit Near a Window
Natural light can help to increase your happiness, and being happy will help you to be productive at work. So, wherever you're working from, ensure your desk gets light by being near a window.
If all the desks near the windows are taken, make an effort to either get near a window or outside at intervals throughout the day. Whether this is on your lunch break, when taking your small breaks, or simply standing near a window when you need to think.
10. Use Uplifting Scents
Certain scents can help to improve your mood and stimulate creativity, so using scents is a great way to enhance your office environment. When you're at home, you can light a scented candle or place a bouquet of fresh flowers on your desk. You could even use an oil diffuser with oil blends designed to help you focus.
This office hack is easier to do when working from home, but it is possible to do it in the office too. You can create a portable scent kit to take to the office. Get a sealable jar and add some diluted essential oils to it. Whenever you need a lift, breathe in the scent deeply through your nose, and then replace the lid.
11. Ensure You are Comfortable
If you're not comfortable, how can you concentrate? If you're in the office, you should be provided with a good office chair, so ensure you adjust it to make it perfect for you.
When working from home, if you don't have a good office chair, this may be more difficult. So, use cushions and lumbar support to give you the support you need. Invest in a desk and chair so you have somewhere to sit, but also don't be afraid to move to different spots throughout the day – do whatever you feel comfortable with.
It's not just about the chair, however. If you're going into the office and you know you often get cold, take a blanket or jacket that you can use to stay warm. Maybe even take a hot water bottle if you get cold in the office.
12. Keep Notebooks Handy
Sometimes, ideas can hit at any moment, so having a notebook to hand gives you somewhere to jot down inspiration as it hits without distracting yourself from the task at hand. And don't think that by not writing it down, you will remember it later (you probably won't!)
If you prefer to keep things digital, open a document to jot down your ideas and keep it open throughout the day.
13. Stay in Control of Cables
When working with computers, wires and cables can cause clutter on your desk, and you can't simply hide these in a drawer. Use cable ties or bulldog clips to keep wires together so that they are more manageable. You can then attach picture hooks at the back of your desk and hang the cables on them, out of sight and out of mind.
If you have lots of cables, make sure you label each wire before you bundle them up. That way, you won't waste time finding what you need when something else needs plugging in.
14. Use Noise Cancelling Headphones
One that is mainly for in the office, but will also help if you have a busy, noisy home, using noise cancelling headphones can help to keep your mind on the task at hand. Chattering, children, or any commotion can all distract you from your work.
You can then play music to get you in the zone or listen to inspiring podcasts to help you get through your work day.
15. One for Pet Owners
One office hack for working from home, if you have pets, is having a pet bed near your workplace. This will allow your furry friend to settle down near you, rather than whinging when they get lonely or trying to distract you when they want attention. It'll also mean you know where they are, so if they've been quiet for too long and think they may be up to something, you can see they're being good with just a glance.
Office Hacks for Productivity
Just some minor tweaks to your work environment can make a big difference to your productivity and happiness at work. Whether you work from home or commute into the office, try some of the above office hacks to improve your work environment.
If you're looking for a way to improve productivity in your office, ensuring your staff can stay hydrated is an easy hack. Browse our water dispensers to see how we can help keep your team hydrated throughout the day.