Factors to consider when designing your office workstation and cubicle layout
The best office workstations are models of efficiency. But more than that, they’re environments where people spend major portions of their lives. When it comes to designing your workstation or cubicle, part of the job involves balancing productivity with comfort.
Several factors play a part in building a functional office unit. Here are some of the most important ones to take into consideration when designing your workspace.
Ergonomics is a real issue. It encompasses both your physical posture and the overall efficiency of your desk setup; the two go hand in hand. But most importantly, maintaining ergonomic balance at your workstation can help stave off physical discomforts than can develop into lingering health issues: chronic back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, or overall strain on muscles and tissues.
Study all the factors that contribute to ergonomic health: proper height and positioning of your desk and chair, organization of desk space to facilitate movement, specially designed keyboards and computer equipment, even special eyeglasses for viewing your monitor.
One of the knocks against cubicles is that they all look the same: exactly similar dimensions, blank-looking, perfectly conforming. Feeling at home at your workstation may not be easy, but you can make your cubicle more uniquely your own space by decorating it with objects that mean something personal to you. Artwork, photographs, plants, color schemes, even furniture like throw pillows or comfortable chairs can keep your sense of self intact.
A computer monitor doesn’t offer a sufficient amount of working light by itself. Overhead fluorescent office lights are a source of irritation for many and can even affect the health of those especially sensitive to its rays. A small table lamp can improve the ambiance at your workstation and feel more welcoming. Certain light bulbs can even compensate for the lack of natural sunlight.
Desktops are blank canvasses. True, they can be springboards for creative thinking and productive work. But they can also be agents of chaos with stray papers and post-its stacking up for months. Think about how the rest of your workstation and cubicle can help you be better organized and work more cleanly: file cabinets, designated space in office drawers, containers for stray items, or any items that make it more convenient for you to retrieve (and replace) what you need.
Contemporary desk arrangements—especially if they involve cubicles—are criticized for being dehumanizing. That’s partially true: poorly designed work areas can be that way. But it’s not difficult to make your space friendlier to your office community without sacrificing the privacy you sometimes need. Additional seating and a warm ambiance can help temporary visitors feel more at home (as would many of the suggestions in the “personalization” section).