The average American worker spends about 47 hours a week in the office. Most of that time is spent at your cubicle, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Cubicles were originally designed to maximize space, promote productivity, and actually encourage greater interaction and freedom. Let’s take a look at some essentials for your cubicle.
1. Cleaning supplies
You might think you’re alone in your cubicle, but you’re not! No, we’re not talking ghosts here. Your desk is home to thousands of germs and bacteria. Your phone alone harbors over 25,000 bacteria per square inch. While not all germs are necessarily bad for you, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 80% of all infections are spread via direct human contact and contact with contaminated surfaces.
While that doesn’t mean you should wear a hazmat suit to work, it does mean you should take the necessary precautions to maintain a healthy workplace. Keep hand sanitizer nearby, and spend some time each week wiping down your desk, keyboard, phone, and other surfaces with disinfectant wipes.
2. Pleasant lighting
Fluorescent lights seem to be the go-to for most offices, but aside from making you and your surroundings look a little sickly, fluorescent lights have been linked to several health issues, including:
- Eye strain
- Increased stress/anxiety
- Symptoms of depression
Ideally, you should have a window nearby to catch some rays of sunlight, but if you don’t have that convenience, keep a lamp in your cubicle that uses a full-spectrum bulb, which simulates natural light. This gives you plenty of warm, pleasant light and offsets some of the fluorescent lights.
3. A desk plant
Having plants nearby has been shown to effectively reduce stress. In one study, participants reported feeling 38% less fatigue, 44% less anger, and 58% less depression when they had a plant around. Other studies have found that plants actually help people complete tasks faster while performing fewer mistakes. They also act as a natural noise barrier, filter out humidity, and reduce bacteria, mold, and dust.
Some beautiful, low-maintenance plants that thrive in the office include:
- Peace lilies
- Spider plants
4. A good pair of headphones
Noise disruptions cause a lot of problems, even if you don’t consciously notice those sounds. Researchers have found that extended exposure to noise—including things as minute as whispering, keyboard typing, and background conversations—can have a negative effect on your health, causing increased illness and stress.
Having a good pair of headphones not only blocks out those sounds, but also helps you focus with some good tunes. Studies show that certain types of music are better suited to certain tasks:
- Ambient: any work involving solving equations
- Classical: any work involving numbers or attention to detail
- Dance: any work involving proofreading or problem solving
- Pop: any work involving data entry or meeting deadlines
5. Relics from home
From family photos to your child’s beautiful macaroni art creations, have some keepsakes from home around to remind you of your humanity and reduce your stress after dealing with uncooperative clients, countless reports, and an overly cantankerous supervisor all day.
Your cube should be your personal sanctuary, and with just a few items, you can make it a welcome and productive workspace.
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