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I am currently in a position where I will be in my office for a relatively long time and I am thinking of ways that I can alter my office to maximize my productivity for the different aspects of my job (university professor).

Are there any good books or online resources that discuss the factors to consider in designing the layout of an office under different conditions?

I realize that interior design is an entire profession but I am looking for something more specific/academic than the general guides I have been able to find (e.g., make sure you have good lighting, etc...)

EDIT Based on the answers and comments I am getting it seems that my question has been misunderstood. I am looking for references to help me understand how the design of a space affects the productivity of the people that work there. I want to go beyond simple issues of organization and flow and really begin to understand the connections between design and functionality. My job requires my office to be a lot of different things from a meeting space with collaborators to a sanctuary for thought and reflection. I would like to understand how altering the design of my space can affect my productivity in these different activities. I am asking for references because it seems like there has been work done in this area but a comprehensive answer would be outside the scale of a SE post.

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Minimize time spent looking for things. Get a label maker. Never stack papers onto each other. – Muz Feb 19 '13 at 8:37
@Muz I asked about books etc... because I am trying to move beyond simple "bullet list" type of advice. Of course "label things" is a good idea but a big portion of my job is meeting with students. I don't think a label maker is going to increase the quality of those meetings. – KennyPeanuts Feb 19 '13 at 11:15

Amended answer to the edited question

  1. Try searching "office design productivity" in ScienceDirect. You'll find various studies done on color, temperature, humidity, etc and their relationship with productivity.
  2. Look into PubMed and search for keywords such as "psycholog* AND office AND productivity" for more in-depth studies on mind-environment interactions. You may find some interesting article like this one.
  3. Check out the concept of evidence-based designs. These books (1, 2) may also give you some good ideas.
  4. Check out multipurpose office furniture or design.
  5. Invite a couple office designers over to give you a general design mockup. Some of them may be willing to do it for a nominal charge.

Previous answer

I'll focus on functions in this answer. For aesthetics, a simple search on Google Image should get you plenty of inspiration. Blogs like Apartment Therapy are also full of good ideas.

For functions, here are some of my experiences:

About meeting students

  1. Position your table so that it will not be between you and the students when you meet. I put my table against the wall, and when students visit I turn around and talk to them. When I need to show them anything on the screen, I can just move over and we can look at my computer screen together. It would also be a good idea to have a small circular meeting table tugged aside for meetings. Prepare two extra chairs.

  2. If you're in/out office a lot, it'd be good to have a little white board outside your door showing your time of availability when you're away.

  3. Pay attention to your decorations and accessories as some of them could make students uncomfortable. E.g. Sexy and revealing posters, political propaganda used as memorabilia, etc. Some schools may even provide guidelines on this issues, check them out.

  4. Prominently display a clock so that students wouldn't linger for too long. It's also a good habit to include end time when scheduling a meeting with them.

  5. I found it also very helpful to have a 2'x3' mini-whiteboard inside the office when I need to explain something to the students.

About document flow

  1. Merson's The Instant Productivity Kit describes a layout that is optimized for document flow.

  2. Definitely need at least one bookshelf. I like to position it on my right hand side so that I can just lean over and pick any book out. Most commonly used reference books and class texts should be at your eye-level (either sitting or standing). Other less accessed materials should go to top/bottom or be filed away.

  3. I maintain a clean desktop. There are only my computer, a reading stand, a coffee mug, desk lamp, and a "virtual in tray" (taken from Merson's book) that only holds one document at a time. On my far right I also use two book stands to form a frequently-accessed library. When I am in a project writing mode or planning a course, I put the relevant documents there for quickest access. When the crazy time is over, I would re-shelf them.

  4. I use a 5-drawer hanging file cabinet and it's never full. On top of that I have a smaller one-drawer sitting next to me, in which I put four magazine boxes labeled: "Incoming," "Processing," "Pending," and "Out/To File." This works for me so far, I haven't found my life complicated enough to use the 43 folders. If you don't have that drawer built in, I'd strongly recommend you to get a mobile one.

  5. Be meticulous in labeling hanging folders. Any system will work, as long as you use it consistently. Don't spend too much time in figuring out the perfect system, it does not exist. Perfection usually comes when you have adopted a reasonably simple and logical system and used it long enough.

  6. Investigate if your department's photocopier can scan and send document to your e-mail or shared drive. I cut down more than 85% of paper storage through doing electronic documentation. On a side note, design your workflow so it can minimize paper use. Even for grading, I asked student to send me a PDF and I used the Comments feature for my suggestions and comments. Once all these strayed papers are gone, the whole work organization is much more apparent.

Other strayed thoughts

  1. If you'll really be in the office a lot, think about a standing/adjustable desk. Negotiate with your department for one if you're newly hired. Same goes for ergonomic chair, it's a small investment but it goes a long way.

  2. If your office has window, consider some small plants. If there is no window, schedule some breaks to walk outside. During winter, you may also get a solar lamp and sit in front of it for 10-15 minutes just to get rid of the depressing feeling. Our department has two circulating among faculty members.

  3. Install an on-the-wall stationery organizer. This is my best solution for cluttering. Another moderately pricy approach is to install a desk-mount screen holder. Suspending the screen in mid-air and putting the CPU under the desk save a lot of desk space. If you throw in a wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse, you can recover the full desk area whenever you need it.

  4. Check with your school facility office for i) the code for painting your own office and ii) fire code for furniture. Most universities have affiliated furniture dealers and some rules on users decorations. If you are allowed to paint, an accent wall is quick, easy, and statement making. For maximized functionality, consider white board paint, blackboard paint, or magnetic paint.

  5. I found it much easier to shop when you have chosen two hues (e.g. grey and blue) that reflect your personal preference. For the more adventurous, invest a couple ten minutes to develop a color scheme and use that to guide your decoration. When buying accessories and stationery, if you can spend a minute to unify the colors with your chosen hues, the office will come together pretty quickly. You may also throw in a couple highlight colors for area rug, cushions, and small decorations. On top of color, you can also pick a theme like flowers, ocean, antique books, candies, etc. as your guidance. If you mix and match wood tones, I'd suggest keep it less than two, and preferably within a close spectrum.

  6. I have been using an L-shaped desk and I like it very much. It is nice to have a chance to turn away from your computer screen and do some reading on an empty desk.

  7. A reading chair would be a luxurious addition and addiction as well.

  8. Another great place to solicit input on office design would be the forum of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

  9. Survey others' offices prior to making any plan. Rule 1 is do not make your office looks nicer than your dean's. Rule 2 is if your office turns out becoming the "model unit," be ready to provide free consultation to your colleagues.

  10. And finally, don't over invest on components that you cannot take away with you. My experience is that junior to intermediate faculty members got swapped around quite frequently due to fund availability and restructuring. Make your office nice enough and keep it there.

That's all I can brain storm for now. Hope it would be useful to you.

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It is an interesting question, I don't know of any books on that topic but this is how I would approach this:

  1. Study how I work in my current office for a week. Where do I get accessories from? What do I do with new documents? How tidy/clean is my desk?

  2. Think of better ways of doing the most common actions I do: move the bin closer, buy cleaning products and put them in my office room, etc...

The goal is to remove friction as much as possible. Having to stand up and go to the kitchen to get the cleaning products is a kind of friction. Having to go through a lot of papers to find the one you want is another kind of friction. Try to remove friction in your office.

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Thanks for your answer but my needs are more sophisticated than simple workflow. Iasked about books because I want to learn how the design of the space affects the work environment on a deeper level than just "I cant find this thing..." – KennyPeanuts Feb 19 '13 at 11:17
Have you checked out books on Feng Shui maybe? – Aymeric Gaurat-Apelli Feb 19 '13 at 11:26

The ergonomics angle of this shouldn't be overlooked. It may be tempting to design your office so as to minimize movement, but this is a fallacy --- it doesn't improve productivity in the long run. On the contrary, for health and ergonomics reasons, you should make sure you move regularly. Visit the Lifehacker website for some good tips.

I suggest you install your printer somewhere away from you, so you have to get up to fetch your printouts. In the same vein, a standing/adjustable desk is a very good thing to have, like Penguin_Knight suggested.

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Something which tends to get forgotten is the sound/noise profile in an office. You may want to consider this as well as lay out.

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