Since founding my interior design practice 20 years ago with Showroom Director Chrissie Marshall, my team has gradually grown from four to twenty and our office space has grown along with us. Our London premises is now nearly double the size and comprises our design studio, art desk, extensive sample libraries, showroom, PR and online media office along with the various other workspaces that are essential for running a business – and that’s before we even get to Barbados! Nurturing creativity alongside the daily tasks integral to a successful workplace is a tough balancing act but it’s safe to say that over the last 20 years I have learnt a thing or two about what works, and what doesn’t. Today I would like to share some of my tips for getting the most out of your working environment which you can apply whether your workspace is at home on the dining room table or in an office managing a team of people! I hope you find them useful and of course if you have any tricks of your own do let me know in the comments.
Fresh flowers in any work space instantly give me a lift. A few sweet peas, a hydrangea head or other perfumed flower will give off an incredible fragrance whilst looking fresh and natural – far nicer than the typical ‘corporate’ flower arrangement. At home I pick fresh flowers from my garden throughout the week to display on my desk in a beautiful glass tumbler – like the one pictured above. If I’m really in the mood I buy a little bouquet for everyone in the office to put on their desks. Trimming the stems means the water has less distance to travel helping the blooms last longer and the short, bottom heavy glass reduces the chances of it getting knocked over! If you work in an office with the traditional potted palm and peace lily, look after them! Water them regularly and wipe their leaves with a damp cloth to prevent them from gathering dust (which can affect the plant’s ability to photosynthesize and lead to a rather sad looking plant).
To-do lists that inspire are easy to achieve with the right pen. Choose a pen that flows freely (I won’t even mention the B word!) and is a pleasure to use. Then, put that A4 ruled note pad to one side and grab a big sheet of paper! Breaking out of the tyranny of lists will help your ideas flow and you may find the tasks seem much easier to handle. After all creative work isn’t a linear process so why should your lists be?
Dress your environment with things that help personalise the space and encourage employees to do the same. When people feel relaxed in their work environment it gives them confidence and this helps you get the most out of them creatively. A framed photograph and a pin board where you can collect images that inspire you (even if they’re not directly related to the task at hand) all help to create a positive environment. Walking through the design room in our London office I love seeing which samples and swatches have caught the team’s eye that particular week and it will often spark off a conversation or idea.
My secret weapon is 4711 perfumed tissues! This cologne is an absolute classic and is really uplifting and refreshing. These handy tissues are perfect for dabbing across your forehead and pulse points during an afternoon slump (and are much better for you than a cup of coffee!). I always keep a few sachets in my handbag as they’re much lighter to carry than a bottle of perfume, making them perfect for freshening up on the go. I’m always thankful for them at trade shows and other busy events! For particularly fraught days try Neom’s ‘Essential De-stress Kit’ (pictured below) which is available from our London showroom. The kit contains mini bottles of Neom’s De-stress Home Mist to spritz behind your head, Intensive Stress Relief Treatment to roll onto the pulse points and finally, De-stress On-The-Go mist to spritz over the face leaving you feeling restored and relaxed in just five minutes flat! Also available are Neom’s Essential Sleep Kit, Essential Energy Boosting Kit and Essential Mood Lifting Kit, all priced £20.
Stay hydrated by keeping a jug or decanter of lemon, orange, mint and cucumber water on your desk and treat yourself to a beautiful glass to drink from. That way when inspiration strikes and you wouldn’t dream of breaking your concentration for a trip to the watercooler, you’ll have refreshment close at hand. Modern office environments with their air conditioning can be incredibly dehydrating but drinking plenty of water will help you feel more alert whilst the fragrance of lemon is thought to improve concentration. To prepare, simply squeeze the juice of the citrus fruits into the water then finish with a few sprigs of mint, cucumber and thinly sliced lemon.
Beautiful stationary like my box file (pictured above) will give you a lift every time you use it! This particular file is covered in gorgeous paper by Colefax and Fowler and holds all the paperwork for my ongoing tasks. I really believe that the things you use every day should enhance your experience – whether that means jotting down notes in a colourful notebook or treating yourself to a special fountain pen that will last a life time. Don’t save the good stuff for special occasions, life is just too short! I have been using Smythson diaries for years and wouldn’t even consider buying anything else. The ‘Fashion Diary’ (pictured below) fits perfectly in my handbag but is still large enough to write down all my appointments, has a pocket at the back for any loose bits of paper such as tickets and has just the right amount of space for notes. I like to use the ‘page per week’ version so I can see at a glance what each week holds in store. I’ve really enjoyed using my ‘poinsettia red’ one this year and have already ordered a plum one for next year!
I really believe that everything around you should be beautiful including your work environment. I wouldn’t dream of having a cardboard box of tissues on my desk – instead I use the tissue box cover and butler tray pictured below which also holds my water glass. This set is an exclusive Jenny Blanc design featuring a gorgeous coral print. The glass is another of my exclusive designs which is handmade by a French artisan and is available in a range of colours from our London showroom.
A light grey background on your work computer will help rest your eyes in between tasks and stop any loud colours or patterns impacting your eye while you work. This is really important for computer aided design when you need to be able to judge colours on screen effectively.
Express yourself in whichever way suits you and make sure your team are able to do the same. Some of us do our problem solving aloud (otherwise known as talking to yourself!) and some in our heads. Some people prefer to discuss ideas or have things explained whilst others need to get up and sketch things out physically. If you’ve ever heard someone say ‘I see what you mean now’ – you can bet that they’re a visual person and the best way to communicate with them is to show them your ideas, not just tell them. Make sure that you and your team are free to work things out in the way that suits you – there’s no point in striving for a ‘paperless office’ if your team member prefers to write their thoughts down! By playing to everyone’s strengths you’ll be able to build a better creative working environment for all.