Some workplaces can be very restrictive when it comes to decorating and personalizing your immediate surroundings, opting for a glum, Turkish prison look. Have no fear, even prison walls can be decorated (often quite vividly). There are simple, classy and professional ways to bring a little life into your work environment without offending anybody or turning your cubicle into an exhibit worthy of a museum.
When doing interior design for an office in your home you have more options – you can choose any chair/computer desk set up that you like, but working at the office with other people means you have to work with what you’ve got.
There are several different types of offices, each with its own unique rules when it comes to choosing office furniture and décor. Let’s take a look at some of the basic kinds of office environment out there and see what would be the appropriate amount of decoration that might find its way to your computer desk.
The simple/traditional office
For a couple of years of my life I was stuck in what you would call cubicle hell, grey atmosphere, white walls and some pretty colorless office furniture. Professional-looking to a certain extent and comfortable enough to clock in some 7-8 hours of desk time daily, but bland and low-end nonetheless. Naturally the bosses had a pretty strict policy when it came to clothing and the number and nature of personal items that were allowed in the workstations. From what I’ve heard from other people working in similar environments the rules are not always that strict, but there is definitely a running theme in such offices. The usual items that are acceptable here are:
- Colorful office supplies – a few tastefully matched pens, staplers, notebooks, paperclips and other little items in different colors can change the look of your office desk. No one will have a problem if you arrange a few things around your desk in a way that you feel is best, and there are no rules about everything being black and white.
- A cool coffee mug – no huge mugs shaped like animals or mugs with irritating slogans that is supposed to be funny. A medium sized cup of a simple yet elegant design and some exciting colors will be more than enough to brighten things up. You can go for a second cup if you like, but don’t bring a whole Victorian tea set to work.
- Imaginative coasters – a couple of coasters with a slogan or image, nothing too flashy.
- A pillow for your office chair – this one is kind of cool, because no one can really deny you the right to feel comfortable, and since the cheap office chairs the company is providing are clearly not doing the trick, a nice little pillow is ok in any office.
- A few pictures – about three or four pictures of your family are really the limit. You can put them on the wall, or simply have a single framed family photo on your office desk when in doubt.
The more laid back/modern office
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Now we come to an environment where you have some level of creative control over your office desk decoration. You can’t exactly go crazy and bedazzle the place or paint everything 13 shades of pink, but you can get away with a few crazy items – something shiny, funny or colorful. Some items that you might find in an office like this:
- Interesting models of traditional office supplies – you can really have fun with different colors and design offered on novelty websites today, virtually thousands of options. Just as long as you don’t go overboard you can bring a nice personal touch to your work environment and brake up the monotone color patterns. It’s a funny thing, how a goofy little pen holder is sometimes enough to cheer us up, I guess it just brings us back to our old school days and wakes up the little child in us.
- Colorful images on the walls – a few posters of some natural scenes, wildlife, airplanes, cars or whatever sparks your imagination and relaxes you. Remember that you are not a trucker or a teenager, so keep it civil and avoid political imagery or pictures of celebrities and the like.
- Some picture frames – same as before, a couple of pictures are more than enough, except this time you can choose a more stylish frame.
- A simple plant – there are a variety of plants suitable for the office, smaller green plants that require little light and replenish oxygen levels. Some plants to consider are the Peace Lily, English Ivy, a fern or a small cactus.
- Some gadgets/toys – a cool smart phone dock, an unusual clock, a stylish lamp, a coffee heater, a small LEGO figure exhibit or some interesting USB memory sticks, whatever little geeky trinket you find useful and/or fun.
- A cool mug – a coffee mug with a more personal touch, i.e. a quirky design or some interesting features like temperature sensitive text/image.
The cool/creative office
I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine, who used to work as a web designer in Brisbane, about office furniture and decoration, business etiquette and personalizing the area you spend most of your day in. I told him about how restrictive my company was when it came to bringing personal stuff to the office (I was just one of the many lowly worker bees at the time) and wanted to know what things were like down under. I asked how they were allowed to decorate their office, since they were designers and thus considered more valuable for their creative services. He’s answer was basically something in the lines of: “We can do what we like, It’s awesome”.
Nowadays companies like Google, that feel modern and in touch with their young workforce are really breaking the mold and creating enjoyable, warm environments that spark their employees’ creativity. In such an office anything goes, so if you are lucky enough to work in such a place you really don’t need my advice – feel free to proceed as you please.
There are always rules in the workplace, different codes of conduct if you will, that you need to be fully aware of before you set out to personalize your office desk. These designations are guidelines, but the rules are not set in stone and there are various levels of customization that a company might allow their staff, so check the rules with your seniors first and then try to do your best to decorate with the items you are allowed.
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