When it comes to corporate office décor, staff productivity is not very high on the list of considerations – generally corporate companies go for office décor which is cheap, easy-to-clean and easy-to-maintain. But, points out psychologist Dr Craig Knight, in a report in British newspaper The Telegraph, sterile corporate office environments can cause office workers to feel disconnected from and uncomfortable in their workspaces, which impacts negatively on productivity.

Now that you’re your own boss, here’s your chance to banish the bland corporate office, and with it feelings of ineffectiveness and lethargy, forever! Make use of colour, lighting, furniture and fittings to create a space which is both aesthetically pleasing and super-conducive to productivity…

Good colours for your home office
Remember grafting in that dreary, drab office with all-brown office décor? Total brown-out – no wonder you and your co-workers couldn’t wait to bolt out of there come five o’ clock! Reports British colour psychologist Dr David Lewis, 80% of UK office workers believe that the colour of their surroundings has an impact on their mood and, therefore, their performance. They’re not wrong; colour can have a profound affect on a person’s state of mind and health, agrees environmental designer and colour consultant Frank H. Manhke.

Warm colours versus cool colours
Our perception of, and therefore response to, colour is influenced by our physiology and psychology. So, says Manhke, while our response to warm and cool colours is universal, we also carry cultural and individual preferences. Put another way, colours carry universal, cultural and individual symbolism and meaning. So, which is best colour scheme for your home office décor? Consider the following:

  • Warm colours are those colours in the longer wavelengths, such as red, orange and yellow. Warm colours incite a range of sentiments from warmth and comfort to anger and hostility.
  • Cool colours are those colours in the shorter wavelength, like blue, purple and green, and can stimulate feelings ranging from calmness and quiet to sadness and indifference.
  • The human eye has to do less work to perceive cool colours than it does warm colours; so the eye finds blues and greens more restful to look at which, in turn, has a soothing and calming effect on the mind and body.
  • Recent research shows that exposing athletes to the colour red before performances causes them to react with greater speed and force. Now, some companies are applying this knowledge to motivate their sales teams – painting the walls of their sales departments in racy red to stimulate sales.

Colour tips for small home offices
To create a calm yet uplifting environment, use a neutral colour for your base, and then spice it up with a strong accent colour. The latest hot colour combos include:

  • Grey and red
  • Ivory and black
  • Cream and Olive Green
  • Taupe-grey and yellow
  • And for the brave, fuchsia pink and black.

Get some colour inspiration – check out these 10 colourful home offices from HGTV

Want to know more? Read: Colour and Light in Man-Made Environments by Frank H. Mahnke and Rudolf H. Mahnke (Wiley Publishers)

Office lighting
Lighting, while functional, can be considered office décor, in that it’s atmospheric, creating a certain ambience and mood. Who wants to work in a dim, dingy office, or one that’s ridiculously bright for that matter? Turn up your productivity with these office lighting tips

The Benefits of Natural Light in the Workplace
Natural light lifts the spirits, reduces eye strain and makes workspaces appear larger. Natural light also regulates human circadian rhythms and helps trigger the production of Vitamin D. Properly utilising daylight in your workspace not only increases productivity but will save on energy bills. Here’s how to maximise natural light in your workspace:

  • If you’re building an office from scratch, make use of daylighting – techniques which promote effective internal lighting from the sun.
  • Place desks near to a window to maximise the amount of natural light which falls over your workspace. Reduce glare on your computer screen by placing it with its back to the light. This will position you towards the window while you work – glancing at the view every now and then stimulates thought and gives the eyes a break.
  • Don’t block windows with storage cabinets; put these against windowless walls
  • Light coloured walls will reflect more incidental light streaming through the windows than dark walls, making your room appear brighter
  • Install Tubular Daylight Devices – devices which collect daylight and then distribute it via a diffuser.

Artificial lighting
While artificial lighting is essential, it’s crucial to get it just right. Over-illumination, particularly overhead fluorescent lighting (which is brighter than sunlight), is implicated in migraines, fatigue, stress, anxiety, hypertension, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Under-illumination, on the other hand, can lead to eye strain (which can lead to deterioration in eye sight), poor posture (which can lead to more serious spinal problems) and depression. So, in a nutshell, incorrect lighting leads to miserable (and unproductive) workers. Here’s how to get the light right:

  • Avoid bright white light – warm, yellow-cast lighting is best for human comfort
  • Install proper overhead lighting and task lighting on desks – overhead lighting can be softer, while brighter task lighting is shone directly onto your work
  • Don’t place overhead lighting directly over computer screens, to avoid reflection and glare.
  • Office walls painted in lighter shades will require lower intensity lighting than darker walls, since light walls reflect light and dark walls absorb it.
  • Instead of regular light bulbs, try daylight simulation bulbs.

Looking for ideas on how to create the perfect home office lighting set-up?

Home office furniture
Don’t let beige, boring office furniture sap your energy – invest in office desks, office chairs and office cabinets which are functional, comfortable and stylish. Start with an ergonomic office chair. Did you know that a whopping 86% of office workers report feeling uncomfortable in their office chairs, so much so that it affects their mood and productivity? This, according to a recent survey conducted by Staples, Inc.

Unfortunately, even though workers spend up to eight hours a day in their chairs, companies are reluctant to splash out on ergonomic office chairs, preferring to stock the office with cheap and nasty furniture. But, says the survey, they’re shooting themselves in the foot – ergonomic office chairs are a good investment in the long run, boosting the happiness and health of users. Here’s why you should have an ergonomic chair in your small home office:

  • Relieves pressure on the intervertabral discs
  • Reduces the amount of blood which gravity causes to pool in the legs and feet
  • Reduces fatigue and discomfort
  • Increases blood flow
  • Increases productivity.

Don’t stop at an ergonomic chair, though; you should also get yourself an ergonomic keyboard, mouse and mouse pad.

Pimp your desk
Office desks needn’t be corporate-issue melamine. A funky office desk not only looks good, but makes you really feel like working! Spruce up your office décor with these 12 Offbeat Office Interiors and Innovative Desk Designs.

You can never have too much storage space
Don’t underestimate the positive effects that organisation can bring! To boost productivity, get chaos under control with smart office storage solutions.

Accessorise your office
Pretty, and useful, office accessories include pin boards, clocks and storage jars. Need ideas? Here are nine ways to makeover your office accessories and personalise your workspace…

Office plants
Not only do indoor plants look pretty, but they’re good for you, too. But we’re not talking about those silk plants or dried flower arrangements found in reception areas and boardrooms across the country, but living greenery. A recent study by Utah State University, lists the benefits of indoor plants:

  • They clinically reduce stress, contributing to a sense of calm and wellbeing
  • They soften hard interiors, adding colour and, often, fragrance to a room
  • They help keep the air fresh – during photosynthesis, plants draw carbon dioxide from the air.
  • Plants are natural humidifiers in dry climates
  • There is a correlation between indoor plants and decreased blood pressure in hospital patients.

Looking for low-maintenance office plants to incorporate into your office décor? Try one of these top five indoor plants:

  • Cacti
  • Gerbera Daisy
  • Peace Lily
  • African Violet
  • English Ivy.