How To Design Hybrid Workspaces That Really Work
Consistency is essential to successful personal branding, and the same goes for your work environment. After all, your workplace is an extension of your brand. Whether you work in the office or at home, or a hybrid combination of both, the more you can do to create a consistent experience for yourself and those you interact with, the more focused you will be. And that’s a blessing in our fragmented new world of work. Pay attention to what adorns your desk and office walls—and even the air you breathe. Set the mood to reinforce your brand attributes and signal a positive experience every time you switch to work mode. Use this important professional property to create a comfortable work environment that keeps your brain connected to your goals.
Here are the main ingredients:
Wall paint. Your walls can let people know what you’re passionate about and what inspires you — and that can encourage some good relationship-building discussions. The color of your walls and what you put on them can affect your emotions and the way people interact with you. Behr suggests grey, beige and brown. Gray “feels balanced, isn’t distracting, and pairs easily with other office furniture or colorful accessories.” When it’s important to focus, neutral colors create a non-distracting backdrop. Warm brown, taupe or sand tones ensure that the walls do not appear dull. Best of all, these background tones won’t interfere with the splash of brand colors (including your company’s specific Pantone color) that you add in smaller doses.
Goals. Thanks to a part of your brain called the reticular activation system (RAS), you have a bundle of neurons that can guide you to your goals. Among its many important functions, your RAS filters what it brings into your consciousness—and this is especially important in a hybrid work environment where you must constantly switch while absorbing an overwhelming amount of additional information and stimuli. If you are clear about your brand attributes and how they relate to your goals, you can play a role by consciously adjusting some of your RAS filters. Write down your goals and keep them prominently displayed on your office wall or on your computer screen saver. Reduce it to no more than three goals. Every time you look down at those words, remind your RAS to notice and prioritize the actions and information that will help you fulfill those ambitions.
zoom background. Of course, what’s right behind you in your office can have a huge impact on your surroundings, as it’s seen in the countless meetings you attend each day, but remember you’ll be staring at it on Zoom too ‘Cause you’ll be seeing it in your own video feed all day. Choose a background that lets people know a little bit about you while reinforcing the values in your own mind. Include your passions. Consider literally adding some growth – in the form of a potted plant. According to a study cited in ZDNET, having plants in the background makes you seem smarter, more trustworthy, more approachable, and more professional. Of course, if you have the opposite of a green thumb, that’s not an authentic symbol for you (and brown leaves and bare twigs might not send the most positive message).
corporate branding. If you work for a company and want to show your loyalty or be reminded of what you love about the organization you work for—perhaps their commitment to DEI or your favorite corporate value—you can include words or images that reflect that. With logos, the official slogan or a historical photo from the beginnings of the company, you can also use your walls as a sign of your loyalty to the company. Celebrate the fact that you’re part of a team you truly respect.
a scent. According to Discovery, scents bypass the thalamus and go straight to the brain’s olfactory center, known as the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb is directly connected to the amygdala and hippocampus, which might explain why smelling something can trigger detailed memory or even intense emotion so instantly. Corporate hotels know that scent is the most powerful sense when it comes to memories and is great for setting the mood. Westin uses white tea. Omni uses lemongrass. Marriott’s EDITION hotels have a custom Le Labo fragrance made with fig, bay leaves, bergamot, cedarwood, black tea leaves, vetiver and musk. At Scent Lab, you can create a candle with a custom scent that reflects your interests. Of course, any scent you add to your home office will be lost to those you connect with via online meetings, but it’ll be a good reminder for you, and if you’re in the company office you can keep a personal sample on hand, which does not affect colleagues who are at risk of allergies.
You can add to the list to ensure your consistent work environment is truly tailored to you, perhaps even adding some items only you are familiar with (e.g. a playlist in your headphones or a specially flavored water to keep you hydrated throughout the day ). . Sometimes curating your surroundings to reflect your personal brand is an afterthought or not a thought at all. But thinking about your job can speak volumes—to others and to yourself—without you having to say a word.
William Arruda is a keynote speakerco-founder of CareerBlast.TV and co-creator of Personal Brand Power Audit – a free quiz to help you measure personal brand strength.