8 Ways to Make Your Cubicle Less Soul-Crushing

by Staff Writer

The workplace of the 21st century is somewhat defined by the partial enclosure of the cubicle, your home away from home for about 2,000 or more hours a year. Sure, the cubicle seems like a good idea in terms of efficiency, but it also does a great job of resembling a cage or a prison, and can be so stimulating that you fight the urge to sleep multiple times a day. While cubicles can be plain and monotonous, you can look at it this way: it gives you the perfect blank canvas to personalize and make your own. It's like that popular metaphor, think "outside the box," even though you have to work inside of one. Studies have even shown that there is a positive correlation between productivity and how workers feel in their surroundings. So for all you cubicle dwellers, here are some ways to upgrade your drab, sterile workspace into a more relaxing and inviting space.

  1. Personalize the lighting

    Updating the lighting of your workspace can dramatically change the feel, ambience, and general day-to-day job satisfaction. Too often office spaces with generic bright overhead fluorescent lighting can give off a cold vibe that reminds us of waiting outside a dentist's office. To soften the atmosphere in your cubicle, you may try a more full-spectrum bulb, floor lamps, or use a clip light with incandescent bulb. Task-specific lighting is also highly effective, so you may want to add a desk lamp to illuminate the areas of the desk you use the most.

  2. Rearrange your work area

    Rearranging your work area can be an inviting, much needed change every once in a while. Most of the time you spend in your cubicle will be most likely spent behind the desk, so the arrangement of your work space must be compatible and comfortable. Having a view of the entrance to your cubicle also helps keep morale high and seem less claustrophobic.

  3. Landscape

    Plants are an essential component in cubicle feng shui — they bring some of the outdoors and indoors, and help satisfy our physiological and psychological need to connect with nature. Some natural elements in the workspace are always a good thing, but be considerate of the plants you use – avoid plants with too much pollen or a strong smell. If your workplace doesn't allow live plants, you can try hanging framed photographs of plants around on the walls.

  4. Get an ergonomic chair

    Ditch that generic old office chair that's giving you back problems and opt for an ergonomic chair, which is built for optimal support and performance. Since you're going to be sitting for around eight hours a day, it's worth the investment.

  5. Get a cool desk toy

    Quirky, nerdy desk toys allow you to express yourself, add some personalization to your desktop, and may even strike up some interesting conversations with your coworkers. Desk toys play an influential role in maintaining the emotional well-being of their owners and may even help relieve some stress, which can make your work day more productive and interactive.

  6. Bring something from home

    A touch of home may be just what you need to feel more comfortable in your cubicle. Besides, who wants to be surrounded by sterile white walls? A reason why many people have photos of their family or pets, perhaps a mug or souvenir, or gifts from family members on their desk is because it adds something familiar within your line of sight. Brighten up your workspace with something from home that has meaning to you.

  7. Get a small desk water fountain

    A water feature is a great way to soothe the mind and soul. The sound of running water natural may be relaxing and keeps positive energy flowing. Water fountains also provide some eye candy that promotes a calming and peaceful environment to help get you through the stressful days.

  8. Get a cubicle game

    Everyone needs a break every once in a while to get a fresh start or to pass some time during a long conference call. There are plenty of cubicle games out there you get – zen garden, cubicle basketball, darts, or golf to name a few. They all come in various sizes to cater to your cubicle space.

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