My Millennial Office

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A multigenerational workplace is a tricky subject – it’s a big task to accommodate everyone’s different values, goals, and work habits. I read this article recently, and although it’s geared specifically to legal practice, it’s so applicable to other office working environments.

So – as I’m making the transition from classroom to office, and from a workplace with mostly young people in their 20s & 30s to a workplace with an older average age, I’m finding my own generational values and goals are pretty transparent. Especially when it comes to the environment that helps me work best.

When I first got this job offer, I immediately hopped into my college graduating class’s Facebook group and asked my fellow Scotties for advice: How do I work in an office all day?! How can I make my sterile office environment feel more welcoming and calm? As always, they gave great advice: from getting lamps to offset the fluorescent lights to using lots of pops of color to incorporating “homey” accents like plants and family photos.

I’m happy to report that I successfully incorporated their advice, added some of my own elements, and my office really has become a calm haven where I can focus and work really efficiently.

And so – some of my decorating/office life tips:

  1. Pick Color Scheme: The color scheme I chose was black, white, and gold, with pops of green and blue. It was a perfect, simple theme for finding black frames at Goodwill, some gold accents from around my house, other little pops of color like my green tea mug and some colorful coasters a friend made. These colors matched my personal style (I mean…our wedding colors were “neutrals and naturals”), so entering my office immediately makes me feel like it’s mine.
  2. Frame Some Stuff: I finally framed my diplomas and my Phi Beta Kappa certificate, so I can rep my alma mater – plus, it helps me to look just a little more official when I have visitors. I also framed a couple of family photos and made some Dayton-themed graphics for a gallery wall (I found a set of 5 matching frames at Goodwill – yes!). I also finally have a perfect place to display a portrait that a family friend had commissioned of me holding my viola. What better place to display it than my office in the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance?
  3. Make Your Body Happy: A comfy chair, a gel wrist rest for my keyboard, and a salt lamp are all ways that I’m trying to keep my body happy while sitting in front of a computer for most of the day. My most ridiculous/best purchase was a pair of blue-light blocking glasses. They have a slight orange tint and they’re not prescription, so if I’m not working directly at my computer, I just take them off. They’ve worked wonders for helping my eyes not to get as tired and improving my sleep after I’ve been looking at a screen for hours and hours. And although this isn’t exactly office decoration, my watch reminds every hour to stand up and do some stretches, which is a good break when I’m losing track of time.
  4. Get Some Better Lighting: Fluorescent lights immediately make a room feel sterile and they do not promote the calm feeling I wanted to have in my office. We found some lamps on Craigslist and Target and now I don’t even have to turn on the fluorescent lights in my office. I know it’s not doable for everyone’s office situation, but it was certainly a game-changer for me.
  5. Organize the Heck Out of Everything: I’m naturally an over-organizer, so in my first week on the job whenever I had extra time, I would clean out drawers, rearrange files, and just generally make things more usable for my work style. It helped to spend that time at the beginning organizing, because now I mostly know where everything’s located, and stuff I use frequently is within grabbing distance.
  6. Yes, I Have Some Fidgets: I have a glitter jar and a fidget spinner and although it’s completely ridiculous, when I’m stuck on something or need a little mental break I bust them out. I feel absurd (and like a traitor to every one of my teacher friends), but it’s nice to have some tools to take a little brain break.

What advice do you have for working in an office environment?

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