Designing the Ideal Workspace: Taking Cues From the Oval Office

Published Tuesday, March 29, 2011 2:10 PM

Perhaps the most famous office in the U.S., even the world, is the Oval Office.The very words conjure up power, panache and such iconic images as young John Kennedy hiding beneath his father's presidential desk. While only a handful of people will ever enjoy such a storied workspace, all office designers can take a cue from its composition.

 Let there Be Light: Natural light is a mood enhancer. If possible, take pains to incorporate as many windows as possible into your workspace. Not fortunate enough to enjoy the Oval Office's expanse of eleven-foot windows? Bring in task lamps and even floor lamps to flood your workspace with as much light as possible.

Bright Equals Might: Bright walls in whites and creams create a sense of spaciousness and energy. The Oval Office currently features a palate of yellows and creams. Chose light, soothing paint colors and leave moody hues for other areas of your office or home. Stuck with dingy or dark walls and carpets? Consider adding a light, bright throw rug, mirrored wall coverings or oversize watercolors to enlarge and brighten your space.

Spaciousness: Who doesn't crave elbow room? While the Oval Office's 800 plus square feet  make its dimensions generous for a workspace, even cube dwellers can create a sense of spaciousness by minimizing clutter and streamlining files and desk accessories. Less is always more so take time to assign must-haves a space and declutter weekly

Quiet & Privacy: Clearly the Commander-in-Chief can order up solitude and the quiet time necessary for concentration. For others sharing office space, carving out privacy and quiet can be a tougher challenge. Too noisy to concentrate? Consider using ear buds or noise-canceling headphones. Or relocate to an unused conference room for a block of time or to make calls requiring discretion. Perhaps you share a desk like many financial traders or maybe your cube mate is never more than an arm's length away. Create the illusion of privacy by placing stadium style files at the edge of your space or use a plant for a little screening.

Work Surface: President Obama joins the long line of presidents-Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush-who use President John Kennedy's stately wooden desk. In addition to a long pedigree, the desk has the oversize dimensions that allow for ease of use. Modern office dwellers might opt for a corner desk, which maximizes space and allows for better ergonomics. Experts advise positioning the computer monitor at least 20 inches away.

Inspiration: Workers today clock long hours at work. Be sure to create a welcoming and inspiring atmosphere. Did you know that President Obama added inspirational quotes from presidential predecessors as well as Martin Luther King, Jr. to the border of the rug he commissioned for the Oval Office? The quotes include FDR's famous words, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" and MLK's moving, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Consider adding an inspiring plaque or pictures of your family to personalize your space. Environment plays an important role in boosting morale and productivity.

What is your idea of an ideal workspace? What design elements can't you do without? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.

by Carly Fadako

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Comments

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