10 Mar 2022

Desk setup to maximize productivity

There’s setting up your office — creature comforts and your family photo — and then there’s setting up your office for productivity.

In 2022, most companies are shifting toward hybrid work models. This means employees will work from home at least some of the time.

And although in recent years, managers have come to accept that a loss of supervision doesn’t mean a loss of productivity, employees and managers alike are still looking for ways to boost productivity.

We often think about ways to train ourselves to be productive: sticking to rigorous schedules, applying deep work tactics, keeping regular hours… Yet, research has discovered ways to naturally encourage your mind to be more productive on the job.

According to the Washington Post, most employees can only truly focus for four hours per day. This means that to maximize productivity, employees need to set themselves up for four hours of focused work each workday. Not consecutive hours, but timespans long enough for an employee to become immersed in their projects.

That means you need to persuade your mind to focus for four hours a day to be productive. That’s doable, isn’t it?

How focus improves productivity

Most sources refer to focus and productivity synonymously. If you open one article that mentions “focus and productivity,” more often than not, the article focuses only on focus or productivity.

Yet, they’re not the same. To focus is to concentrate. Productivity is the result of concentration: the output of your efforts. Someone who is productive is either very talented at their job or great at focusing when it counts. Most well-established professionals are both.

For the average worker, there’s no such thing as 100% productive just as there’s no way for the average person to remain focused for a full eight hours a day. Employees who work long hours aren't strictly more productive than those who don't. To improve productivity, employees need to learn how to capitalize on the four hours each day they can focus.

The rest of this article is full of suggestions and tips for optimizing your desk setup up for success.

Improving your focus. Naturally.

Focus is built in two ways: minimizing distractions and improving concentration.

Work distractions typically come in the forms of irritating noises, eye-catching visuals, physical discomfort, and common woolgathering. Once distractions are identified, employees can work toward minimizing them. However, improving concentration is less simple.

Have you ever tried to consciously not think about something and therefore thought about it? Forcing yourself to concentrate is much the same. If you tell yourself to concentrate, you’re thinking about all the things you’re not allowed to think about instead of concentrating on what matters.

Now, turn on your favorite song and that thing you’re trying not to think about goes away. Naturally. Your office setup should act similarly, fostering focus when you need to buckle down.

A big part of fostering productivity includes building the right environment and there's actually a lot you can do in a small space. Here are some desk setup ideas to keep you on track:

Workers in a coworking space


At the risk of sounding like your mother: cleaning up your space can go a long way to keeping you on track.

Despite what your twelve-year-old self believed, there’s actual logic behind it. A minimal desk approach might be the remedy you need. Decluttering your office desk space helps you focus in two particular ways:

  • Leave your baggage. Entering your office with yesterday’s notes on your desk can cause a mental overload first thing in the morning. According to The Guardian, the best way to improve focus is to do one thing at a time. Minimizing your clutter from other days, other assignments, can help you focus on just one.
  • Have everything at your fingertips. Not much is more distracting than halting your entire workday to find your stapler, phone charger, fidget spinner, or anything else you might need. Cleaning up your workspace improves functionality, helping you find your tools when you need them.

A minimalist approach to your office can help you stay focused and, therefore, productive each day. Stay tidy and invest in desk organizers to simplify your workstation.

Make it flexible

Forward-thinking companies are reconfiguring their office spaces to be flexible. 

Desk setup

Ideally, you should be free to stand up and doodle on a whiteboard, recline in a beanbag chair, or walk to a window, soaking in your daily dose of Vitamin D. 

The bottom line: deck your office with tools or resources that improve the adjustability of your workspace. Predetermining your needs will help eliminate your midday “I wish I had that” trains of thought.

Flexible work environments

Studies confirmed that flexible work environments increase productivity and levels of wellbeing, meaning they are no longer just a ‘’cool thing to have’’ but a must-have for companies that value the happiness of their employees or simply see the cost-effectiveness of a hybrid workplace.

If you want to learn more about how to create and manage flexible workplaces, read our carefully crafted blog here.  

Get comfortable

If you compare reading on a cafeteria chair to reading in a La-Z-Boy recliner, the recliner takes the cake. There’s a reason booklovers scout out cozy places to read: they focus better when they’re comfortable. Something as simple as your desk chair actually matters when it comes to productivity.

Most people don’t realize they’re uncomfortable on the job. Yet, once they’ve upgraded their office chair, computer desk height, laptop stand, and other tools, their productivity improves. Their productivity improves because their focus improves.

The best tools are the ones you hardly notice: they just work. Investing in an ergonomic chair, desks, mechanical keyboard, and the like can take a huge weight off your mind.

Stay on track

With all this talk about decluttering and reducing noise in your workspace, it’s just as important to stay on track.

If you have post-its all over your office desk with reminders and due dates, you can’t forget them long enough to truly focus on one project at a time. Keeping your task lists organized will help reduce your sensory overload. Have designated calendars, whiteboards, pegboards, or to-do lists where you routinely store your projects and tasks. These tools should be easily accessible so adding to them won't block your workflow, causing minimal impact on your day.

All the tech

Hardware is one of those lucky things that when you have it it’s there. You don’t have to renew your subscription and the devices last a decade, give or take, before being upgraded or replaced.

Therefore, bite the bullet and get everything you need to stay focused on work. Something as trivial as rifling through browsers and tabs to find one website can break your focus. The cure: dual monitors — or even triple or ultrawide — to make switching through programs and pages easy.

These days, most employees spend a portion of their workdays in headsets attending virtual meetings. Investing in comfortable earpieces can go a long way to improving your comfort. Some employees experience eye fatigue. A blue light screen filter, proper desk lamp, or blue light glasses can help alleviate eye strain.

For another example, Joan Desk booking app can help minimize distractions, improving your focus and productivity more than you’d expect. 

Investing in the right desk accessories and computer setup at the start can set you up for success in your role.

Add plants

Experts believe plants increase employee happiness and productivity. Studies have shown that office plants can improve memory retention substantially. Employees who have plants nearby are more engaged at work. Being engaged on the job helps improve focus and, as we know, focus improves productivity. Adding some shrubs, flowers, or succulents to your station can give your focus an extra boost.

Set up for success

While there are deliberate steps we can take to improve our focus on the job, it’s the subtler steps that make the biggest difference.

Focus isn’t something that can be forced. The more we try to force ourselves to think of one thing only, the more our mind wanders. Instead, these tips and tricks help lull our minds into a state that fosters concentration and deep thought.

With hybrid work models and flexible workspaces on the rise, it’s time to invest in the right tools and configurations to help you excel at your job. 

For more information about how Joan can optimize workspace and encourage collaboration visit our solutions page.

Joan Solutions