Six Ways to Ensure a Restorative Workspace: Translating Comfort to Productivity

A change is as good as a rest.” – Old English language saying, attributed to British poet Andrew Leach.

Most of us realize the value of taking care of ourselves. Taking care of, cherishing, and loving ourselves translates into greater productivity. But often, we think of this as something we do only in our down time or during our breaks. Taking breaks is certainly a good start, but you can also boost your productivity by making your workspace a more pleasant place to spend time.

I’m not talking about ergonomics here; I’m talking about mental and emotional comfort. In many cases, comfort has more than a physical element; it’s psychological as well. (← click to tweet) When you’re mentally and emotionally calm and fulfilled, even at a subconscious level, you’ll feel better physically, and your performance will improve as a side-effect.

Here are six simple ways you can make your workplace more restful and restorative, so your psychological comfort level goes up.

1. Think curves. Studies show that workspaces with fewer straight lines, whether in furniture or architecture, tend to put people at ease. Maybe the fact that curves are more natural and organic causes them to arouse pleasant emotions; maybe the lack of corners and lines just makes it easier for the mind to process the environment, by giving it less to process. Either way, curviness seems the way to go.

2. Add some greenery. Plants and exposure to nature in general both boost both well-being and effectiveness among employees. Workers exposed to four indoor plants in one study recharged their ability to pay attention much faster than those exposed to no plants at all. Even better, plants filter out indoor pollution and produce oxygen to help clear our heads.

3. Get a view. Your teacher may not have liked you looking out the window when you were a student, but it’s a quick and easy way to take a micro-vacation when you need a break. Better yet, visit a landscaped courtyard or take a walk in a natural area. It’s restful and may boost your memory.

4. Decorate with images of nature. If you can’t get a window, photos and posters of nature images can prove restorative; landscape views seem to reduce stress and encourage a sense of well-being. Who knows? Maybe you can put a cheap flat-screen TV on the wall, find a channel or DVD playing a nature image, and use it as a “window!”

5. Listen to ambient sound. The sounds of a quiet rainstorm supplied by a website or a CD, playing on your computer or through your earphones, may prove the ideal way to set your mind at ease. For some of us—especially Millennials, who often have no problem working through what to some of us might seem distracting—the bustle of a coffee shop may be more effective.

6. Leave some papers on your desk and put up some decorations. Supposedly, Albert Einstein once quipped, “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Whether he did or not, Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman, authors of A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder, assert that people with cluttered desks often prove more productive than those with complicated organizational systems, who take longer to find things. Similarly, decorated offices inspire workers better than bare ones.

Try one of these six ideas! The evidence is overwhelming that psychological comfort, when combined with the proven benefits of ergonomic office design, will greatly boost your productivity.

Side note: Modifying your environment is only one way to ease your mind and boost results, if you want to go further, check out my video on decluttering your mind by writing things down.

© 2017 Laura Stack.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland



  1. Such great ideas! Last year I took time to upload some of my favourite vacation and family photos to use as desktop backgrounds on my computer. I can’t believe what a difference that has made in my outlook at work. On those tough days, I look at my photos and they remind me of why I’m working, and of good times yet to come.