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How to Create Your Own Perfect Work Environment

When you need to buckle down and get stuff done, it helps when you have a setting that is optimized for productivity. After all, a noisy bar or a ballgame isn’t what you’d call ideal places to knock out an important item on your to-do list.

If you’re unhappy with your work environment, studies show you’ll be less motivated, more easily distracted, and your performance will suffer. You can even develop a negative attitude that spreads to the rest of the team.

So what does it take to create your own perfect work environment?

Well, there are really two ways to address this, depending on what you mean by “environment.” Are you referring to the culture, values and standard operating procedures of a work space? Or do you mean the actual physical attributes of the area in which you work?

In this article, we’re going to focus on the latter. We’ll save discussions on culture and the importance of open communication for another day. For now, let’s take a look at how you can create your ideal workspace with simple tweaks to your work area.

Does Workspace Really Matter?

When you’ve got a long list of tasks to complete and a limited time to get them all done, does it really matter where you are? Is an office really any different than, say, a cubicle?

According to research, it makes a huge difference.

A recent study conducted by Oxford Economics found that employee satisfaction and productivity are negatively affected by distractions in the workplace caused by cubicle setups.

Participants in the study said that “the ability to focus and work without interruptions” was the most important factor of their work environment -- much higher than a break room or donuts on Friday.

How To Create Your Perfect Work Environment

We dug into the latest studies and have boiled it down to these major factors you can tweak to create the perfect workspace.

Distraction-Free Area

As we noted in the study from Oxford Economics, employees recognize more than ever the need to work without interruption. You may or may not get to choose exactly where you work (whether in an office, open space or cubicle), but you can cut out the distractions that pull you away from important tasks.

  • Put your phone away and silence notifications. Many of us are more addicted to our online social lives than we’d like to admit, so it may be better to just remove the distraction altogether by turning off all notifications (including calls and texts) and putting it in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Remove physical clutter. The less extraneous stuff you have around you, the better your focus. Don’t get buried in Post-It Notes and old receipts as they only pull you away from what you need to do.
  • Help yourself get organized. Don’t have a place for those old receipts or seldom-used work docs? Get a file cabinet or start a file system that will free up space and allow you to work in a clean, calming environment.

Healthy Lighting

When possible, opt for natural light instead of artificial. Another study, published in the Harvard Business Review, found that access to natural light was the number one attribute workers wanted in their office environment.

And there are noticeable benefits: for one, natural light produces Vitamin D, which promotes better overall health -- it can help fight diabetes, depression and even chronic pain.

Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois found that workers exposed to natural light slept longer and better.

A 2011 study from the University of Oregon found that those who had an outdoor view in their workspace and got a decent amount of sunlight took 6.5 percent less sick leave than others.

Plus, natural light boosts productivity! A PG&E study on various Walmart stores with more natural lighting than others had 40 percent higher sales than comparable stores where lighting was the only significant difference.

If natural light isn’t an option, you can use “blue” light to keep productivity high.

Ergonomic Desk setup

Now that you’re distraction-free and in a place with comfortable lighting, it’s time you optimize the place where the work actually gets done: your desk.

First of all, your desk should be large enough for you and your essential work tools (computer, mouse, keyboard, additional monitors, etc.). Get one with enough drawers so that you’re able to keep the area clutter-free, as we discussed.

Screens/Monitors: Adjust so that they are at, or slightly below eye level. Position the monitor at least 20 inches from your eyes (about an arm’s length). Keep glare down by adjusting the screen position. Tilt the monitor back 10-20 degrees.

Keyboard/Mouse: Invest in an ergonomic keyboard that contours to the natural curvature of the arms and hands. You can also find ergonomic mouses that will reduce muscle strain as well as your risk of developing carpal-tunnel syndrome. Your keyboard should be even with the height of your elbows.


We sit for long periods a day -- about 6.5 hours, according to the Washington Post. That’s a lot of time where many of us are compromising our comfort and posture as we slouch, slump and lean in an effort to stay comfortable.

The bottom line is, if your chair is not offering both comfort and support, your focus, productivity and health will suffer.

Unfortunately, most chair designs are outdated and only make problems worse, because they’re not designed to work with the human body.

That’s why it’s so important to invest in a chair that actually moves with you, so that your back, neck, pelvis and entire body are protected.

People who are able to sit in a chair that keeps their core engaged report less back pain, more focus and a lot more productivity!

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