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How to Optimize your Desk Setup?

Your desk tends to become your safe place after a while of consistently working there on a day to day basis. Many workers today spend up to 8 hours and more at work each day and if you’ll be spending that many hours at your desk every day, it must be worth it. Every minute detail of that desk should count and you also want to ensure that you are productive at work. Anything can hinder your productivity, whether it is the height of your chair or a poorly sized desk or even how your monitor is positioned. Everything counts, which is why it is important to take your time to optimize your desk.

A study of nearly 2,000 full-time office workers showed that the average UK office worker is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes out of the working day. Social media and trawling news websites happened to be major distractions. 

Many things are calling for our attention in this day and age but one of the best ways to curb distractions is to build a system that counters it. Designing an optimized desk is a great way to go about this, as it helps you to focus on the most important things and get the work done at a lesser time. It also helps you to be more creative and think clearly to improve your workflow, which ends up reducing distractions. 

You shouldn’t always be exhausted and frustrated from work, which most of the time is due to a poor desk setup. However, you can always improve on your workspace and create the ideal productivity desk setup.

The Essential Elements of an Ideal Workspace

Creating the most productive desk setup requires more than just space and a desk but with a little more deliberateness. Certain elements must be in place to make it happen, some of which include:

  1. Lighting

Lighting is an important part of a professional desk setup, as the quality plays a huge role in your mood and well-being, which can be a determining factor for your productivity. The way people work has experienced tremendous changes over the last few years, as there are new studies constantly showing several ways work can be better and more productive. 

In a review from City University London, it was found that lighting is one of the several factors that combine to create a healthy work environment. The study further suggests that “companies should consider the need to invest in workplace lighting as a means to develop work environments that support well-being and performance, and reduce the likelihood of employee stress, absenteeism, and industrial accidents.”

Brighter light works better when it comes to office lighting but most importantly, it is recommended to have more natural lights than artificial. Natural lights not only lighten up your space but also have huge benefits on your well-being and creativity. Since we spend most of our time indoors, likely, you don’t get exposed to natural lights as much as you should. To create a balance, allow some access of natural lights into your workspace; let the sunlight in.

A study conducted by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois found that workers exposed to natural light tend to have an improved and quality sleep pattern at home compared to those who aren’t exposed to natural light. The same study also found that “workers without windows reported poorer scores than their counterparts on quality of life measures related to physical problems and vitality, as well as poorer outcomes on measures of overall sleep quality and sleep disturbances”.

By allowing more natural light, you get to improve your health and also how productive you are at your desk.

You can also get artificial lights to enhance what you already have from the natural lights. This could also be helpful if you don’t have access to enough natural light in your workspace. Ensure the light source is positioned correctly, to avoid casting harsh shadows while working and to also make the most of the lighting.

  1. Colors

The effects of color in a work environment is vital and beyond just an important design element for aesthetics. Color psychology is a huge factor to consider, as it drives most companies when choosing brand colors. You can also be that deliberate when choosing colors for your workspace.

A review from 2018 combined 40 papers to show the influence of color on affect (e.g. mood, emotion), wellbeing (e.g. stress, comfort, wellbeing), and performance (e.g. productivity, performance, creativity). 

Do your little research on colors and preferably, opt for colors that match your personality and the kind of mood you want to reflect. Work with that theme color for your workspace and see how it changes the way you work in the long run.

  1. Temperature

In a corporate work setting with several people in a building, it is not uncommon to have disparities in deciding what the ideal temperature of the room should be. However, for a work from home setting, you have the liberty to set the temperature of your workspace to what will positively impact your work.

The indoor temperature plays a huge role in human responses, including thermal comfort, perceived air quality, sick building syndrome symptoms, and performance at work. Researchers from Cornell University were able to link warm offices to fewer typing errors and higher productivity. Another study also found that the highest productivity is at a temperature of around 22 °C. This means that with a higher degree of temperature, there will be a reduction in performance.

The bottom line of this is that you choose the degree of temperature that works well with your body per time. As long as it doesn’t make you uncomfortable and tampers with your ability to work. If it is in a corporate setting where you may not have control over the temperature, you can adjust your outfit to strike a balance to maintain a level of comfort while at work. 

  1. Sound

To get the most from your workspace, you should block unnecessary noise that might cause distractions as much as you can. This is different from listening to music while at work, as that is a centralized sound and not noise scattered across the walls of the building.

Noise can hinder your productivity at work and a survey of 2000 adult workers in the UK, US, and Australia shows that noise negatively impacts a majority (69%) of global employees’ concentration levels, productivity, and creativity.

Noise-canceling headphones are great for this, as they help silence the disturbing background noise while you concentrate on your work. You can also play background music that isn’t distracting to help improve your creative thinking process. A study from Worktech Academy shows how acoustics affect individuals and their productivity levels in the workplace.

  1. Plants

Plants bring life to the workspace and provide more benefits beyond aesthetics. A study shows a significant, negative association between nature contact and stress and nature contact and general health complaints. It further shows how perceived stress and generalized health complaints decreased as workday nature contact increased. Another study carried out on 34 students also shows how indoor plants in an office can prevent fatigue and improve attention.

Besides, plants help reduce stress and sickness, purify the air as they absorb poisonous gas, and most importantly, improve productivity. Get one or two plants for your desk setup and see how much it impacts your productivity at work. 

Other Important Tips to Help Optimize Your Desk Setup

To design the best desk setup for productivity, several factors are considered. Highlighted below are some:

  1. Chair Height

Most workers spend the bulk of their time at work sitting behind their desks, which is why it is important to use a chair that supports the correct posture. One of the first things to look out for in an office chair is the height. It is often advised to opt for a chair with an adjustable height to suit your body size and weight. A quick way to check if the chair has the right height for you is to sit and ensure you have your thighs parallel to the ground and your knees at a 90-degree angle. 

right posture

Other things to look out for when choosing a chair is the lumbar support, adjustable headrest and armrests, and breathable material used.

  1. Desk Height

While you choose a chair with the perfect height, you also want to ensure that it is paired with the right desk. The height of the desk should conform with the chair to help you have great work experience. To check if your desk has the ideal height, your elbows should form a 90-degree angle by the desk while they rest by your ribs. You could invest in an adjustable desk to get the perfect desk-chair balance or use a furniture riser to lift the desk if it’s too short. 

Also, you could get a standing desk or use a sit-stand desk, so you can easily switch between sitting and standing at intervals. The sedentary lifestyle is constantly on the rise as we tend to spend most of our time at work sitting behind the desk. A great way to curb this is by using a standing desk, so you can easily stretch and do minor workouts or just walk a bit while you work.

  1. Monitor Placement

Since you will be working behind your screen for the most part, how you set up your monitor matters. Start by checking the height, as it should not be too high or too low. If you have your laptop directly in front of your desk, the height of the screen is too low. This is why it is recommended to use a monitor, which has a higher screen compared to a laptop, and can be adjusted. If you must use a laptop, get a laptop stand, and preferably an external keyboard and mouse to make your workflow seamless.

The general rule of the thumb is to ensure that the top of the screen aligns with your eyes when seated upright. Poor monitor height can cause you to strain your eyes and your muscles, which could gradually affect your posture and your health.

Also, how close is the screen to your eyes? Your monitor or laptop screen should be between 20 and 40 inches in front of you. If it is farther away than that, you might have to lean forward too often and also slouch, which affects your posture and could cause musculoskeletal pain. If it also is too near, it will be too harsh on your eyes and affect your focus.

  1. Remove Clutter

The representation of your physical state has a way of reflecting on your mental state, and as a result, physical clutter could cause cognitive clutter. There is a higher level of mental energy required to contain a lot of clutter lying around.

If you want to spend quality time at your desk, start by organizing all the items on the desk and reduce clutter as much as possible. Keep files and documents in drawers or on a shelf and leave only the important items on your desk ready for use. You may also consider getting a whiteboard to reduce the number of papers you have to use and discard daily, which will also give you less clutter.

Bottom Line

More workers today are putting in efforts to make the most of their workspace because of how beneficial it is in the long run. What if you could get better and more effective results with the same work hours you’ve been using for years? Sometimes, it’s all about applying the right tactic to get your desired result. 

With certain things in place, as highlighted in this article, you can create your ideal desk setup where you are likely to get the work done better and on time. However, while you create the perfect workspace, ensure you take care of your health, both mentally and physically, to be able to function at maximum capacity.

About the author


Shelly is an avid reader, and the love of reading takes her to content writing eventually. She loves writing on various topics.

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