What Elements Are Critical for Creating a Universally Effective Productive Workspace?


    What Elements Are Critical for Creating a Universally Effective Productive Workspace?

    In the quest for productivity, we've gathered insights from CEOs and top industry experts on crafting a workspace that fosters efficiency. From establishing a focused morning ritual to using refreshments and subtle scents, explore the eleven universally effective elements these professionals swear by for creating a productive workspace.

    • Establish a Focused Morning Ritual
    • Utilize a Planning Tool
    • Optimize Workspace Lighting
    • Schedule Your Entire Day
    • Check Your Email at Specific Times
    • Plan Regular Decompression Breaks
    • Incorporate Natural Light and Green Spaces
    • Use Dual Monitors for Efficiency
    • Prioritize Workspace Ergonomics
    • Keep Essentials Within Reach
    • Maintain Motivation with Subtle Comforts

    Establish a Focused Morning Ritual

    Since COVID times, our ideas about the workplace and workspaces have expanded to include home offices, cafes, and libraries, as well as corporate real estate. Our workspaces today still have to perform as enablers of collaboration, conveyors of culture, and, most importantly, productivity catalysts. While that can look very different depending on your working arrangements, there is one critical element in creating a productive workspace.

    From personal experience, it's important that my workspace enables me to focus on the task at hand. What works for me is a morning ritual that helps me get into focus mode: a clean desk, a quick check of email and Slack to make sure nothing is on fire, and I'm ready to prioritize my work and get started. Remember that your workspace includes whatever shows up in your Zoom window, and take care to declutter the area behind you as well as your desk.

    Marca Clark
    Marca ClarkSenior Director, Talent & Organizational Development, New Relic

    Utilize a Planning Tool

    One critical element to every productive workspace is a planning and time-management tool. This may be digital or paper-based, but it must allow you to plan your days, weeks, and months based on your schedule, projects, and tasks. Without this, you may still get a lot of work done, but will not know if it is the right work—meaning work that supports your goals and priorities. The right tool helps you work proactively and intentionally, and makes feel better about what you have accomplished.

    Lori Vande Krol
    Lori Vande KrolProductivity Consultant, Trainer and Speaker, Life Made Simple, LLC

    Optimize Workspace Lighting

    A universally effective element in creating a productive workspace is optimal lighting. I've found that natural light not only enhances mood, but also boosts energy and mental clarity, which significantly increases productivity. Incorporating elements such as large windows or skylights can dramatically transform work environments.

    For spaces where natural light is scarce, choosing the right artificial lighting is crucial. LED lighting that mimics daylight spectra can be a great alternative. Additionally, ensuring that lighting is layered to provide ambient, task, and accent lighting can help minimize eye strain and create a more comfortable and adaptable working environment.

    Brad Smith
    Brad SmithCEO & Interior Designer, Omni Home Ideas

    Schedule Your Entire Day

    Something that I've found to be effective is to schedule my entire day in my calendar. It really helps me actually spend 30 minutes on something that should take 30 minutes, rather than taking an entire hour to fiddle with features because I'm a hopeless perfectionist. It is a little work up front, but I've yet to find a circumstance in which this wouldn't be helpful. It budgets your time, gets you prepared for what you need to accomplish, and lets you switch off when you're done, because you know everything that needed to be done was already in the schedule.

    Dragos Badea
    Dragos BadeaCEO, Yarooms

    Check Your Email at Specific Times

    As a software developer who works fully remote, I find that I can get caught in the trap of procrastinating by checking email over and over again. Checking email can make you feel productive when you're actually just constantly interrupting yourself to avoid deep work.

    In 2024, my best hack for creating a productive workspace is to schedule when I can check my email inbox. I use DNS filtering to schedule when email is blocked, so I can define blocks of time when I can check email. This approach helped me break compulsive email checking and be more intentional with my focus during work hours.

    Ben Bozzay
    Ben BozzayFounder & Senior Fullstack Developer, Tech Lockdown

    Plan Regular Decompression Breaks

    Planning good decompression breaks on a regular basis is essential. As any athletic trainer will tell you, too much 'nose-to-the-grindstone' work can actually backfire on you, as your muscles need rest to function at their best. This principle is one I also apply to my own productivity, as too much focused work is a good way to tire yourself out, and produce mediocre work over time.

    I find it important to plan preemptive breaks, at least five minutes on the hour, to do something that takes me away from work and lets my brain take a bit to process. Physical activity is best, and it can be anything, really. I tend to putter around the house and clean a few things here and there. I know someone who does a few minutes of jump rope, which has the added benefit of helping them stay fit. The point is that a good brain is one that isn't stuck in a rut—breaks lead to overall greater productivity in the long run.

    Kate Kandefer
    Kate KandeferCEO, SEOwind

    Incorporate Natural Light and Green Spaces

    At Parachute, one critical element that has consistently proved effective in creating a productive workspace is optimizing the lighting environment. High-quality, daylight-balanced lighting plays a vital role in maintaining our team's energy levels and circadian rhythms, which significantly impacts their productivity and overall well-being. By ensuring our office is brightly lit with natural light where possible, and supplementing with artificial lighting that mimics daylight, we help keep everyone alert and focused throughout the workday.

    Additionally, we've seen substantial benefits from incorporating green spaces throughout our office. Integrating plants and green areas not only enhances the aesthetic of our workspace, but also provides a natural stress reliever and improves air quality. This subtle yet effective strategy has contributed to a more comfortable and engaging work environment, helping to boost concentration and satisfaction among our staff, thereby driving productivity at Parachute.

    Elmo Taddeo
    Elmo TaddeoCEO, Parachute

    Use Dual Monitors for Efficiency

    Having access to two monitors is essential for any workspace. Even if one of the monitors is a laptop screen, being able to have multiple applications open at once increases my productivity and keeps me focused.

    Kelli Anderson
    Kelli AndersonCareer Coach, Texas General Insurance

    Prioritize Workspace Ergonomics

    One critical element in creating a productive workspace is optimizing ergonomics. I ensure that my workspace is ergonomically designed. It promotes comfort, reduces fatigue, and minimizes the risk of injury. I am able to focus better and work more efficiently.

    I have invested in ergonomic furniture, such as adjustable chairs and desks. I also position my computer monitors at eye level to reduce neck strain. Proper lighting reduces eye strain and fatigue.

    By prioritizing ergonomics, businesses can create a conducive environment that supports employee well-being and productivity. This ultimately contributes to overall success and efficiency.

    Perry Zheng
    Perry ZhengFounder and CEO, Pallas

    Keep Essentials Within Reach

    Here are some tips that can help improve your productivity, regardless of the type of work you do. First, make sure everything you need is within reach so that you don't have to leave your workspace and get distracted while trying to fetch something. Another effective tip is to turn on the do-not-disturb mode on your laptop or mobile phone. This will prevent you from being interrupted while working on tasks during your scheduled time blocks. However, you can check your messages during your breaks.

    Jason Vaught
    Jason VaughtDirector of Content, SmashBrand

    Maintain Motivation with Subtle Comforts

    Ensuring easy access to refreshments and introducing subtle scents to uplift the workstation ambiance will help craft a productive workspace.

    Keep your favorite snacks and drinks nearby for easy access to maintain energy levels and stay active throughout the day. Arrange a stash in your desk drawer or have a small refreshment station close by for quick grabs without becoming distracted.

    Refreshments and pleasant scents can revitalize your workspace, boosting productivity and well-being. In addition, certain scents can positively impact brain cognition, fostering clarity and focus. Citrus scents promote clear thinking, while peppermint and cinnamon enhance concentration power. Use essential oils in a diffuser or apply diluted oil to experience these benefits. While sitting at a stretch, room fresheners can assist in reviving your mood and provide you with a much-needed break from the monotonous work schedule.

    Dhari Alabdulhadi
    Dhari AlabdulhadiCTO and Founder, Ubuy Netherlands