Ask yourself: does this workspace spark joy?


Ask yourself: does this workspace spark joy?

Does this workspace spark joy?  Marie Kondo (if you haven’t heard of her yet read this), would have had a field day in the office of my former boss. David was a smart lawyer, renowned throughout the company for his chaotic office. His desk was covered with stacks of documents and books. There were boxes of files and half empty glasses of water on the floor and assorted souvenirs from conferences strewn across any spare bench space.

Remarkably, he seemed to be able to put his hand on whatever piece of paper he needed upon request. Somehow the chaos worked for him. However, I found the mess stressful and distracting, so I avoided being in his office as much as I could. I also noticed that people assumed that David was as disorganised as his office.

With the current trend to declutter, is there something to be said for a workspace that sparks joy? It seems the answer is a resounding yes!

Studies have shown that our physical work environment can impact not only our happiness but our productivity and even our ability to innovate. Buying a few beanbags and a table tennis table might sound attractive to employees but you need to think about what you are trying to achieve. Table tennis is fun for lunchtime or breaks but is it really helping your employees to work better or more efficiently? What would your employees most like to improve about their workspace? The best way to find out is to ask them…

Here are some popular gripes we hear about:

Workspace hygiene

With many of us eating at our desks and spending large amounts of time at a keyboard, workspaces can be a receptacle for bacteria. Grotty workspaces and dirty bathrooms have an affect on morale and increase the changes of spreading germs when co-workers are unwell. Untidy workspaces create a poor impression for visitors and can be a security risk if important documentation is left lying around. Ask yourself….does this workspace spark joy?!

Encourage employees to take pride in their workspaces and keep them tidy. If the budget runs to a regular cleaner and pest control service that’s great!

Noise levels

Whilst this isn’t visual, with the popularity of open plan office spaces, noise can be a serious problem, and certainly not spark joy! Whilst some employees thrive on the buzz, others can find it distracting and counter-productive. If staff are struggling with the volume it may be worth setting some guidelines. Meetings and lengthy discussions should take place in other areas or outside the office. If that’s not possible you might want to consider purchasing some noise cancelling headphones that can be used by those who want some silence to concentrate.

Fixtures and fittings

Cords, cables, or wires hanging loosely around are an OH&S hazard, and can spark joy in a not the right way!   They are dangerous, look messy and even if the rest of the office is looking ok, can bring down the whole neat and tidy vibe. These days there are desks that have spaces for cables to drop down to the power points, there are charging stations, and screens etc, to hide away the many cords that office life brings.   Same goes for lighting.  If the lighting is too dim or too bright it can be a distraction, making it hard to concentrate, and lowering productivity.


Ripped chairs, chipped or busted desks, cramped workspaces can all be factors to be considered when asking “does this workspace spark joy”.  It can be depressing and miserable to work in a space that is uncomfortable or where things don’t work “properly”.   These days suitable office furniture can be found at very reasonable prices and from a variety of distributors.  In addition, with workspaces moving away from the more traditional look, furniture from homeware stores can be used and not cost the earth.


Take a look around your workplace. Are staff rugged up at their desks? Or are they utilising those mini fans you buy at the Reject shop? Most commercial leases stipulate that the indoor temperature should be set at between 20-24 degrees. You might assume that any hotter than that will leave employees unable to concentrate, however, just to note, a recent student by Australian scientists showed that there were no discernible impacts on employees’ concentration when air conditioning was increased to 25 degrees, but that there were significant savings on electricity bills and it was better for the environment.

Plants and flowers

Another way of improving office air may be with plants and flowers, as well as making a workplace feel more relaxed and welcoming.  If you can’t afford or maintain the real deal, there are some great artificial flowers around these days.

Involve your staff

If your workspace could do with a makeover, why not form a team to come up with some ideas? Changes don’t have to be big to have a significant effect.


For some DIY ideas on how to makeover your office check out these websites:



Sarah Tidey

Sarah Tidey is a former lawyer who specialises in HR and workplace dispute resolution.

Related Posts