Sitting in a cube all day can be a little disheartening. The lack of privacy is bad enough. But with the addition of fluorescent lights, strange carpet squares (seriously, who designs these?), and a workspace that lacks any personal features, how exactly are you supposed to find the inspiration to do your best work?
Help boost your work day (and your creativity!) by giving your cube a little TLC. Check your workplace manual to find out what modifications are acceptable. Also take a look at what other people in the office are doing in their cubes. Do they have pictures of their families prominently displayed or maybe postcards of their favorite vacation spots? With a few small changes, you can transform your sterile, carbon-copy cube into an inspiring place to create that showcases your unique, but professional, personal style.
Clear the Clutter
Think an empty cube looks bad? Try one full of messy piles of paper, half-full soda cans, and so many “reminder” notes that they’ve become meaningless. Your disorganized cube isn’t just difficult to work in, it reflects poorly on you as an employee, too. Even if your work is top-notch, when your boss stops by your desk to talk about a project, it will appear like you are operating in a state of disarray.
Take control of your work space, and your personal brand, by getting organized. Give it the same dedication you would to a home improvement project. Your cube has walls, so make the most of them. Hang a lightweight whiteboard to help organize your tasks or work through a strategy. Use magnetic containers to keep items that you use often like paper clips and push-pins at close reach, but also neatly stored. Instead of a sea of sticky notes, use color to mark priority items. Also, instead of having several working piles of paper on your desk, utilize your filing cabinets so you can stow all your work out-of-sight when you leave for the day. After all, there’s nothing like the simple pleasure of starting a new day with a clean desk!
Add Some Greenery
We’ve all been there. It’s a gloriously beautiful day outside and you have to make the sad walk back to your cube after lunch. While there is no way to completely solve that problem, short of lobbying for a rooftop or patio cube, you can bring a little bit of the outside in with you. Whether you bring flowers to brighten up your desk or a small, manageable plant, having live plants around you at work has been shown to make you happier and 15% more productive!
Worried your cube doesn’t see enough natural light to support a plant? Look for cube-friendly varieties that are a little more low-maintenance than what you may be used to at home. I have worked for years as a fundraiser, so I personally like bamboo, as it is supposed to bring good luck and fortune.
Add Stylish Yet Professional Accessories
Some people can work with the standard-issue black plastic pencil cup and paper trays, but I’m not one of those people. I need my space to reflect at least a little bit of my personal style, whether that means introducing my favorite color or bringing in a vase or keepsake from one of my favorite vacations. Not only will these little touches make you feel happier about your workspace, but your colleagues will notice, too. So no longer are you the person in cube #5312, but you’re the woman with the beautiful photos of New Orleans in her cube. Business is all about building relationships, so as long as you keep it professional, don’t be afraid to put a conversation starter out there. Catching the right person’s eye might mean getting to work on a special project or being the first to know about a new position being created in your department that you would be perfect for you!
No More Briefcase Blues
Another great way to infuse your cube with style (especially if there is no way around the standard issue office supplies) is by sporting a great work bag! Your bag is just as important as your outfit in demonstrating that when it comes to career, you definitely have it together. I personally love this stylish yet professional bag from Ju-Ju-Be. It’s a refreshing change from the cumbersome briefcase-like bag that so many professional women carry, and it’s fun while still looking pulled-together and keeping me organized. The multiple compartments help me achieve a better work/life balance, since I can tote one bag, and everything has its own place. Now I never have to rifle through a jumble of work, my extra flip flops, or lunchtime gossip magazines when I’m looking for an important document to deliver to my boss! Plus, it’s waterproof. So if (okay, when) I spill coffee during my commute, it’s easy to wipe away and I still get to work looking polished.
Update Your Lighting
When movies portray a life-sucking office environment, what is the common factor? Flickering, garish, or buzzing fluorescent lights. Almost all of our offices have them, though, because they are an inexpensive lighting choice. While you may not be able to completely ditch your fluorescent lights, you can enhance your lighting situation, either by opening blinds to reap the benefits of natural light, or investing in your own personal desk lamp.
A desk lamp can help provide better, more direct light for the work you do in your cube, which can help reduce eye strain and the general feeling of tiredness that comes along with it. It’s also another way to personalize your space to reflect your style.
Remember, your workspace is a representation of you as an employee, so take the time to make it a neat and stylish space that gives your colleagues a peek at your personality, while making it clear that you are killing it on the job!
By: Danielle Hegedus
Danielle Hegedus is an Atlanta based writer. She is a regular contributor to Modernize, as well as a variety of lifestyle and home design websites. Danielle recently finished her first cookbook, in collaboration with Chef, Kamal Grant for Atlanta’s beloved, Sublime Doughnuts.