On your first day at a new job, it’s always nice to use your free moments to start to make your office more comfortable — and to take stock of whether it’s too cold, too hot, too bright, not bright enough, and so on. Even though you probably got a glimpse of your workspace during your job interview, your first day gives you an opportunity to decide what you can do to settle in and feel at home (home-ish?). How do YOU make your office more comfortable? What are the first 3–5 things you have to do to settle into a new office? Which items do you bring on your first day, and what do leave for later? What would your perfect office look like, and how far is your current office from that ideal? If you work in a cubicle or in an open plan office, how have you adapted that setup to work for you?
We’ve talked about how to decorate your office walls, the logistics of decorating your office (i.e., how you get a couch in there if you have room for it), and how to know if you’ve overshot it and your office decor is “too nice”, as well as general thoughts on personalizing an office (looooong ago) — but it’s been a while.
To kick things off, here are some thoughts from members of the Corporette team on how we make our offices more comfortable:
For me, it would be a framed family picture, a tissue box (I’m snotty, ha) and water bottle; setting up the computer with LastPass; and finding something to prop my feet on top of, like a stool or banker’s box, for better ergonomics. I might also immediately look into whether there’s a conference room I can use when I need to work quietly, and figure out the office culture around closing my door — I tend to get really easily distracted with an open door.
I always “customize” my office with a few key things: a non-boring mousepad (mine, which has a wrist rest, is a rip-off of Van Gogh’s Almond Blossoms), a fun mug to bring a little cheer to my mornings (currently, this pink polka-dot Pusheen one), and a nice wall calendar. When I started my current job, I wasn’t crazy about a couple of pictures on my walls, so I switched them out for a couple of bird prints from home (an option my boss had already offered) and kept the others. I ordered a bulletin board right away because I like having certain info easily accessible, and I repurposed a printer stand as a footrest. (Yes, I’m allowed to order an actual footrest, but the stand works fine, and I’m at a nonprofit, so I might as well save money.) I always have jasmine tea and hot chocolate on hand, and I recently ordered an electric kettle for our two-person office because the hot water from the Keurig always has coffee grounds in it — ick.
I’m always cold, so my necessities are mostly temperature-related. I usually keep a big scarf that can be used as a blanket (this one from White + Warren has been my go-to for years) and a heating pad (keeps me toasty, and less of a fire hazard than a space heater). I also like to have a fun mug on hand for coffee and tea. (Currently, it’s a Parks and Rec mug a friend gave me for my birthday.)
I try to take care of the practical things early on: surge protector (there are never enough outlets) and all the basic office supplies. This includes ergonomic mousepad, keyboard pad, scissors, and eating utensils. (I often eat at my desk.) As for creature comforts, offices are always too cold, so I always have a spare black cardigan or blazer I can leave at work. Finally, I like some colorful artwork — prints, posters, or even magnets. When I’ve worked in a cubicle, I have chosen a couple of posters that give me a moment of escape. In my early 20s, it was the Van Gogh Cafe Terrace at Night to pretend I was there on my rougher days. More recently, I bought Charley Harper’s Canyon Country for a cubicle wall. I currently work in an office and still need to hang more art on the walls, but like everywhere else I’ve worked, I have a few colorful cups and mugs for pens/pencils/thumb drives. My current office also from day one has had a couple different versions of the Lucky Cat and an urban streetscape print by a local artist I met at a gallery show a couple summers ago.
I download Chome on my computer if it doesn’t already have it, and I bookmark sites I use most often (Westlaw, etc). Relatedly, I scope out the web surfing and usage culture/policy, bring my water bottle, and find out where the water source is. What’s the temperature? Do I need to bring a cardigan that lives at the office? A space heater? Is there natural light? Do people pop by others’ offices when a question comes up or are there designated times to bring a bunch of questions? I need a phone charger/umbrella/snacks always on hand. I’m high maintenance when it comes to my creature comforts. I had a shared office once with three other people, and we would share funny/crazy stories about our cases and ask each other questions all the time, but I could see how that dynamic wouldn’t work if we were all there all the time. It worked because our court schedules were crazy and the office was just a landing pad.
In your current and past jobs, how have you made your office more comfortable? What are the items or features that are essential to you? What kind of office setup helps your productivity the most?
(Pictured: blurry picture of Kat’s first solo office back in her law firm days. Awwww.)