Staging Your Office for 2011


January 2, 2011

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the start of a new year, or maybe it’s because I just put away all the Christmas decor in my house.  It could be the fact that I’m watching a Sell This House! marathon.  Either way, it seems like a good time to make some subtle changes around here.  I plan to get over my fear of Craigslist (this could be a topic for another day) and try to sell off some of the old furniture that’s made it’s way through three of my houses.  Then, it will be off to the store to look at some kid-friendly furniture and dog friendly rugs.  I’m hoping for a result that will be clean and non-cluttered but that will still have that “homey” feel.

I also plan to give a similar make-over to my office tomorrow.   I moved into my office in March of 2010 and it’s still pretty sterile looking.  Whether you’ve been in your office for many years and need to de-clutter or whether you’re like me and just need to decorate, there are a few tips to make your space more livable and productive.

De-clutter. Remove all unnecessary paperwork and recycle.  Organize your essential files and make sure to restock any office supplies.

Add some personal photos.  There is a fine line between having too many and “just right”.  I’ve often heard that employees who are engaged will decorate their cubicle or office with family photos.  The more photos, the more likely the employee is engaged and intends to stay at the organization.  I think there is truth to this.  My only caution is to make sure that you don’t over do it and make it a distraction for your colleagues.  Three to four photos is a good rule of thumb.

Add art that is meaningful to you.  This is one I personally espouse.  I recommend taking the photos yourself and have them enlarged and framed for your space.  My office will be showcasing some photos of Chihuly glass that I made several years ago at the exhibition at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Desk accessories to make it truly functional. Almost goes without saying.  Being more organized with your space will help ensure you are able to focus more on the work at hand.

Add a plant or fish. This tip is not for everyone, but for those people who can take a couple extra minutes each day to care for a plant or fish, it will make the space you occupy for a majority of your time much more bearable.

So, what did I miss?  Is there something unique you’ve added to your workspace to make it more you?   Anything we should make sure NEVER to put in our office?  Share it in the comments.


  • I’m a sterile office guy. I’ve even had the facilities group try to move someone into my office while traveling, thinking it was vacant. Seriously.

    Very few pictures, desk clear, and not much decoration other than two bookshelves straining under their load. But there is one thing that sets my space apart from the rest. Lighting.

    I’m a dim light guy. The bright overheads aren’t very pleasant, so I brought in a floor lamp. It sits behind me, and it is the only light I turn on. My space stays a little dimmer than most, but there is less eye strain, not to mention a calm, relaxed feeling to the place. I even get people who stop just to marvel at the difference.

    When they ask why, I tell it I like it better and wasn’t willing to accept the default setup as best. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

    • @Dwane- BRILLIANT. I’m buying a lamp. Thanks for sharing such a great idea.

  • Good tips Trish. Personally, I learned a long time ago to only have silk plants in my office – I tend to kill the live ones…. 😉

    • @Robin- Really? Have you tried a cactus? Those are hard to kill and can be used as a weapon. 🙂

  • No plants here but a coffee mug with a slogan that reflects the mood of the day (current = life is good peace sign), kid “I love you” picture, and wedding picture. After that, it’s up for grabs.

    • @Lisa- Ok, we need your Women of HR button in there and I’ll have to send you a HRevolution mug to keep there too! Cheers!

  • Good advice Trish. I get a bit obsessed with the clean and organized look for my office, but I believe it sends a message about being on top of my game v. being buried in paper. I like Dwane’s lighting comment…maybe my next purchase!

    • @Jay- One reason I love the blog is that you all add the good stuff in the comments. I had completely neglected lighting in my post and Dwane made an excellent point. I think I should bring in a lamp because my office is on a lower level of the hospital with no window. As you know, hospital space for HR is a prime commodity. Thanks for weighing in.

  • Good thoughts, Trish et al. I always like to see the books that people choose to have in their offices, so I keep a few of my own on the desk. I bet you do, too. DK

    • @Dick= Great point on the books. I have a ton in my office, most of which I’ve read and loan out. Have you written books? If so, I need to know so I can get it or them. 🙂

  • I like the personal art/photos recommendation.

    My recommendation is: bring more light into your space. I just moved into a glorious office–view of a lake, floor to ceiling windows, but even more exciting–the morning sun throws beams across the lake and through the trees and into my office. To bring even more light, I am going to hang a glass “composition” with a crystal in the middle where the sun will catch it most and spread rainbows across the walls, which will march around the room as the sun moves and the glass rotates. It has been in a box for years. Thanks for inspiring me to bring it out.

    • @Lorin- The crystal idea is very inventive! I love it. You’ll have to share a picture when you hang it up. Thanks for contributing!

  • I’m a big fan of the coffee mug that matches your personality, spouse photo, and using computer desktop to share pictures of my children.

    • @Adam- I need to get a coffee mug to match my personality. I tend to be the paper cup kind of girl. 🙂

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.





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