Today we have the means to measure the performance of modern idea factories. Even these early insights suggest a future in which we must aggressively change the definition of what workspace is, from where work is done to how it is done, and then design spaces—physical and digital as well as desk furniture around that. The office of the past was a literal box of cubicles and desks, meeting rooms and common spaces. In the office of the future, we will be thinking and working outside it.
If you only do one thing to optimize your workspace, invest in a green plant or two in the corner of room or above your desk furniture. Research has repeatedly shown that the presence of office plants has a range of benefits including helping workers recover from demanding activities and lowering stress levels. As a bonus, there is also evidence that plants can reduce office pollution levels.
hundreds of undergrads looked at computer-generated pictures of room interiors and rated those filled with curvilinear (rounded), as opposed to rectilinear, desk furniture as more pleasing and inviting. Another study out this year found that people rated curvy, rounded environments as more beautiful than straight-edged rectilinear environments and that the rounded spaces triggered more activity in brain regions associated with reward and aesthetic appreciation.
Another feature of an optimized office is a window with a view, preferably of a natural landscape. If you cannot negotiate a desk with a view, another plan is to choose an office in your building that is the shortest stroll from an urban park. A visit here will revitalize your mind and compensate for your lack of a view.