Importance Of Design Within The Office
On top of your mental health or wellness degree, did you also happen to pick up an interior design degree? The answer is going to be a hard no for the bulk of us. So, what now? How are we supposed to design an office that we both love and want to spend our days in but also make our clients feel welcomed and secure in?
Well I am not an interior designer by any means, but I do have an interest in it, have an eye for what looks good together and am obsessed with the idea that simple touches and décor can have such a large impact on how we feel when we are inside a room.
If you aren’t in the same boat as I am and are feeling completely lost when it comes to office design, ask yourself these questions.
What do I use my office for?
Is my office comfortable?
Are there organizational systems in place?
Do the colors within the space evoke any emotions?
In order to make sure your office fits your needs, you’ll need to answer a few more questions.
What do you do? Are you a therapist, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a life coach, a reiki practitioner, or a dietitian?
How many people are in your office at once? 1, 2, 3, 4 or more? Usually 1 but sometimes 4?
What do you use your office for? Are you solely sitting and talking with your clients or do you sometimes stand up and do physical movement? Do you need space for a treatment table to do energy work on? Or do you need a designated writing space for testing or art work?
Dependent on your answers, the needs for your office are going to look different. If you are solely sitting and talking with one client at a time, you can get away with a smaller office, a small desk, love seat and chair. But if you are doing work with 3+ people at a time or needing space for movement you are going to want to ensure that your office is large enough for this, or that your furnishings are lightweight enough to be easily moved to the sides of the room.
In order to fully answer the question of “is my office comfortable” you will need to be willing to see your office from another perspective and listen to your friends and family’s honest opinions. Okay so first, walk into your office as if you were the client. Sit where they would sit. Do what they would do. The difference in perspective allows you to step outside of your provider lens and see the space from your client’s point of view. Maybe you notice from the clients chair that you can’t see the clock, or that the pillow on the couch is very prickly. Pay close attention to all details and make tweaks from there.
Next, invite a few trusted coworkers, friends or family members into your office to give their honest opinion. The point of doing this is to get different sets of eyes on the space and various points of view on how it makes them feel. Though this is your office, it is not only for you. You want to make sure that it is welcoming to a wide variety of people in order to appeal to all your clientele.
Dependent on your natural state of organization, this area might come easier to some than others.
For those that are naturally inclined to organizational techniques (me) and thoroughly look forward to going to the The Container Store (literally the best place in the world). This will be a breeze for you and honestly might be your favorite part of designing your office.
But for those who aren’t naturally interested in label making, file folders and color-coded systems, don’t fret! You are not going to have to shift your entire way of doing things, but you do need to find out if you are naturally messy, disorganized, or cluttered (yes, there is a difference).
Messy = untidy or dirty
Disorganized = spaces that lack structure
Cluttered = too many things in a small area
In summary, if you are in the messy category, you are going to want to clean up a bit. If you are in the disorganized state, just don’t let it get out of control because once it does it’ll be hard to manage. If you are in the cluttered state, put some time aside to go through the items little by little and get rid of what you don’t need.
Think about how you would feel paying money (sometimes a lot) to a provider for a service, and then walking into their office and the trash is overflowing, there are stains on the carpet, and it smells unpleasant. No matter how good of a clinician you are, it is going to make your clients think “if he/she can’t even manage to take out the trash on a weekly basis, how is he/she going to be able to help me?”
What works for you and your business is what’s most important, so deep dive into your patterns and what category your office falls into and make adjustments in order to have your office depict who you are as a wellness provider.
Close your eyes and image you are walking into a bright yellow room with white furniture. How do those colors make you feel? Okay now do it again but imagine you are walking into a light blue room with wood toned furniture. How do those colors make you feel?
Were the feelings the same after each imagery? For most people they are not. Most describe initially feeling energized by the yellow but not wanting to stay in that room for long. With the light blue room, most describe feeling welcomed and comfortable. After doing some research on various color theories, I stumbled upon Angela Wright and her “Color Affects System”.
For the 4 primary colors she summarized that:
The color blue affects the mind and stimulates higher productivity.
The color green affects emotions and causes balance, calmness and reassurance.
The color yellow affects creativity levels and self-confidence.
The color red affects the body and causes a physical exertion response.
With the wide spectrum of hues available, it can get tricky knowing what the best options are for your space. Some things to take note of in regard to wall color is that it is not recommended to use intense colors in an office where emotions tend to run high and it is usually safest to go with a pale color on the walls for a calming or soothing overall vibe.
In regard to other décor within the space, it is recommended to use more than one color to create a color palette (one or two other colors to create balance within the space).
If you are still completely overwhelmed about the design of your office and not knowing what way to turn, you can always:
1. Ask a friend or family member to assist you in decorating or hire someone (Houzz may be able to assist in finding a professional)
2. Rent a furnished office from shared workspaces such as b.mindful Louisville
3. Share an office with a like-minded provider (check craigslist for postings or ask around your clinical community for availability)
Photos taken by Bryan Moberly