Entrepreneurs are always “at work”, even when we’re not. As the CEO of several internet startups, over the years I’ve been invested in every aspect of my companies: briefed on every initiative, getting to know all employees personally, and diving into any role as needed.
When you’re the boss, there’s always more to do. However, at some point, you must accept there are only 24 hours in a day. Modeling work-life prioritization is essential. It begins with how you establish your work environment.
Conscious choices about office color schemes, lighting and decorations affect creativity and productivity, both of which are crucial to success.
What does your ideal workspace look like? For me, it means having multiple workspaces that serve different functions. The better your workspace supports your team’s productivity, the greater success and engagement you’ll gain across the board.
Here’s an office space system that works for me.
Thrive in a boardroom-style office space
My office is the size of a typical boardroom. It has whiteboard walls that I use to sketch my thoughts onto a working canvas. The table space looks like a control station with several computer monitors spread across it.
I keep the lighting low because fluorescent bulbs make me feel like I’m at a surgical table. I think better when I’m not bracing for an incision. Science backs up this feeling, suggesting that fluorescent lights can trigger a stress response in the brain. The dimmed atmosphere, on the other hand, makes me feel at peace with my thoughts, which positively impacts my productivity.
As for the “closed door,” it doesn’t mean I’m inaccessible. As the CEO, your team members should know that they can reach you if the need arises. Keeping a chat window open on your desktop or letting your team know when you’re available ensures they don’t view your office door as an impenetrable wall.
However, a buffer between you and every daily question gives you the freedom to think without distractions. On average, 28 percent of an employee’s time is spent dealing with interruptions. My VP of product development also oversees daily issues that don’t require my immediate attention, which enables me to work more efficiently.
A big bullpen boosts office space collaboration
Collaborative office spaces create a sense of ownership for employees. Emotional investment and a sense of accomplishment motivate employees more than salaries and bonuses. So, build an environment where they have the freedom to explore their ideas and share feedback.
I purposely selected an office space with a great central encircled by individual offices. We call it our bullpen. The environment is very different from our private offices.
We’ve decked it out with a conference table, a projector, whiteboards, a pool table, a couch and bean bag chairs. In the bullpen, everyone can participate in conversations while enjoying a relaxed atmosphere, which is said to increase productivity.
It’s important to create a place where people from different departments can exchange ideas in a low-pressure setting. Once you step into the common space, you feel less guarded, and thoughts flow freely.
The only rule is that everyone observes the time allotted for collaboration. If people socialize instead of focusing, we all have to stay at work later than we’d like. That understanding keeps everyone respectful of one another’s time.
Home office space inspiration
My home office looks completely different from my on-site office space. I think of it as my locker room. It’s the place I retire to once my kids are asleep, and it’s where I’m most inspired. I spend time in my home office to do research, think through action items, and reflect on work.
My home office is decorated with mementos that give me a boost when I’m tired or stressed. Studies have shown that decorating and personalizing a workspace can raise productivity by 32 percent, even in a home environment.
My favorite decorations include a framed pair of trunks that Sylvester Stallone wore in “Rocky IV” and a signed photo of Nolan Ryan with Robin Ventura in a headlock. I also keep photos of my wife and kids in this space to remind myself that they’re who I work hard for every day.
Taking a break from the office
As important as your workspace is, downtime and off-site bonding are also invaluable to your mental health and wellness. For this reason, I schedule at least 30 minutes a day to take a break from anything work-related. Even if I just walk across the street to grab lunch, I need time to recharge.
Our team enjoys three off-site days per year, during which we leave the office and spend time bonding and getting to know one another.
Workspaces are tools that should enhance your company. Craft the right office space for your style, but don’t be afraid to leave it once in a while.
This article has been edited.
Daniel Wesley founded Quote.com to provide consumers with auto insurance quotes from leading carriers. His work has been featured in Forbes, Mashable, Inc., and Fox Small Business.