How Much Workspace Do I Need?

When it comes to our workspace needs, how much is enough? A laptop on a couch? Desk and computer? An entire office? A smartphone?

First off, let's define "workspace".

The term is used across many platforms of industry with similar but different meanings.

In our context, "workspace" refers to the area you perform your work–i.e. your desk, your office, your co-working area.

With this definition, workspace can refer to the actual surface area of our desk, as well as the entire room or rooms wherein we do particular tasks.

Before we begin, we'll need to assess our personal needs.

When taking into consideration things like, "How big of a desk do I need?" or "How much space do I need to do a particular job?" it is fundamental to discover your best personal working environment, and then work to achieve the most possible version of that since our workspace heavily factors into it.

So, how can we determine the amount of workspace we need?

We'll break it down into two categories.

The Workspace We Share

Once you've determined your ideal and most productive work environment, find the amount of workspace you need by paying attention to your brain's response to external stimuli.

Are you easily distracted by audial or visual environments outside of your workspace?

Then, you will want to consider a more isolated workspace for yourself, which could mean a few different options depending on the availability of office space you have.

If it's severely limited–a pair of noise-cancelling earbuds, headphones or earplugs go a long way.

Perhaps you're flush with space!

Well that's an easy one–move into an empty or easily-freed space perfectly fit for you.

Open workspaces create options for collaboration.

On the other hand, maybe you thrive more in an open atmosphere with the hustle going on full swing. In this case, make sure neighboring co-workers will be okay with some company, assuring them you'll respect any and all privacy needs they have. Co-working areas are great for collaborative work, so make sure you have the perfect setup for a thriving collaborative work environment.

Do you fall somewhere between these two scenarios? Talk to your office manager about purchasing some partition walls to create cubicles–this layout works well in an open work environment with a segmented option and can be a great way to capitalize on open space.

Our Personal Workspace

Assess how much space you require to work the best.

You're relating to where you work best in the office.

Now it's time to relate to how you work best in your own seat to determine the size of your personal workspace.

You may be already thinking that bigger is better when it comes to desk space, but a smaller desk surface could actually help keep you focused on your projects.. There we said it ;)

Think about it, how easily does a small counter, side table, or shelf get cluttered at your home just because it's there? (Happens to us all the time!) Eliminating some of the temptation to clutter a space can be a great way to keep organized by sorting the paperwork in the drawers under your desk or filing cabinets.

Go larger in terms of desk size when organization isn't a problem for you or if you need the extra space for effective work purposes–(perhaps you keep a computer, desk trays, desktop printer, and phone all on your desk–this would necessitate a larger surface area)–otherwise you may have too much desk to fill with sticky notes, paperwork, and the lack of motivation to work through any of it.

Increasing your desk space doesn't have to mean a bigger desk either–it can also mean an extension to the left, right or back. Incorporating a desk return (the piece which would run to the left, right or both) or credenza (traditionally which sits parallel behind your desk) increases the arm-reachable surface area of your workspace without the need to create a deeper desk surface. The deeper your desk (meaning the length from where you are sitting to the opposite side where a guest might sit), the more of a likelihood that you may not be able to utilize the space efficiently. Your arms can only reach so far, right? Of course, you can always add tinker toys, knick-knacks, and an array of picture frames to take up extra space you might have.

Staying organized and neat can actually increase your work productivity.

If you're at a desk the majority of your day, consider a sit/stand desk option to really benefit your health. Seriously, sitting there for hours on end for days on end for weeks on end isn't good for anyone's health. Sit/stand options come in several sizes, so there's plenty of room for the computer and all of that paperwork you "need" on your desk ;) You can even incorporate a sit-stand option into your desk/credenza setup to bridge the units as well as give you the best of both sitting and standing worlds.

Your Workspace Depends On Your Personal Work Needs

In the end, the amount of workspace you need should be decided by you, and your workspace should be laid out in the best way for you to work your best. Some need isolated small spaces, while others thrive in a larger, open area. Still, there are those of us who fall somewhere in-between. So, make sure you determine your personal needs, thereby benefiting your workplace goals the best!

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