Productivity at work is by design, not happenstance. One of the best ways to be more productive at work by falling in love with your workspace is by making it sensory-friendly. Design at work is often forgotten and neglected. However, we are here to tell you that the workspace by design is important and often overlooked. It is important to note if you want to have a productive desk space, it needs to be a healthy workspace that addresses your sensory experience.
Most people do not realize that they have ignored their senses when setting up their office. However, there is no perfect desk setup that is a one-size-fits-all solution. Nevertheless, if you pay attention to all of your eight (yes, 8) senses you will improve your workspace, expand your love for it, and increase your productivity at work.
First, you have eight senses. To learn how to set up an office, address each of your eight senses.
Sense of sight at work
A minimalist desk set up helps many people at work. Ask yourself these questions of every item on your desk, “have I used this today?” or, “will I use this item today?” If not, remove it from your desk. Clutter in our line of vision can be a distraction. Love your workstation (and yourself) by only keeping the things you use handy. What to do with keepsakes and mementos? Put them together in a basket. Better yet, keep them, but on rotation one at a time on your desk. Or pick a souvenir of the week to leave out.
Sense of sound at work
Noise at work can be the greatest distraction. Especially in a shared workspace. What makes a good workspace is one where noise levels are safe and noises are not distracting. Use a noise-canceling headset for your phone. If you like to listen to music in a shared office, use noise-canceling headphones! Moreover, your co-workers’ will thank-you.
Sense of taste at work
Let’s start with what you likely think is the most obscure sense! But do you have access to food and drink in your workspace? Do you keep a bottle of water at your desk to stay well-hydrated? Did you know that snacking, especially on crunchy food can help keep you more productive?
Sense of touch at work
A big part of productive workspace design is being comfortable at your workstation. First, start simple, is the chair you sit on comfortable? Are the armrests comfortable? Your body touches your desk furniture throughout the day and therefore, it needs to be comfortable.
Sense of smell at work
What is the air quality like in your workspace? Clean, fresh air is important. Is your office scent-free? Productivity at work can be negatively impacted by distracting scents and smells.
Sense of movement at work
A productive desk layout is key to a healthy desk. Adopting awkward postures at your desk causes a great deal of strain on your body. Poor office ergonomics make it so easy to strain and evoke pain! Make your workspace ergonomic too!
Sense of balance at work
You might not think your sense of balance comes into play at your desk, but it does! Moving around in both safe and comfortable postures is healthy. Change your position, maintain good posture. So stand and walk every opportunity you get. Think about your office workspace design. Put the printer at the other end of the room so that you have to get up and walk to get what you printed. That is much healthier than an awkward reach over behind your back, with you half falling out of your seat.
Sense of interoception at work
You can learn more about your eighth sense, interoception. It tells you when you are hungry, thirsty, tired, or need to use the toilet. This is an internal body sense. So drink lots of water and then get up to go to the toilet! Being well-hydrated is a huge bonus to your health and work. And the walk breaks to go to the toilet make you move!
You will love your workspace and make it productive again by paying attention to your eight senses. And address your mental health at work, too! Host sensory-friendly virtual meetings. Did you know you can make your presentations sensory-friendly?
Moreover, research, “There Can Be No Single Approach for Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Academic Libraries, but Sensory-Friendly Spaces and Clear Policies May Help” by Michelle DuBroy (2019) has found that sensory-friendly workspaces will look and feel different for each person 1. Therefore, it is important to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all to workspaces!
Finally, when your team works virtually, both team members and leaders can use these 8 tips to sharpen your senses for remote work.
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Christel Seeberger has worked in health care for 30 years, including helping people with sensory sensitivity who experience sensory overload. Christel has a hearing disability and experiences sensory sensitivity and sensory overload herself. She founded Sensory Friendly Solutions in 2016 to make the world more sensory-friendly, accessible and inclusive.
- DuBroy, M. (2019). There Can Be No Single Approach for Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Academic Libraries, but Sensory-Friendly Spaces and Clear Policies May Help. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 14(3), 147–149. https://doi.org/10.18438/eblip29552