How often do you buy stuff you do not really need? How many times in a month do you empty your fridge of unused products, suddenly past their best-before date? How many of the items surrounding you in your space could you simply get rid of, without missing them even for a moment? And how to break out of this vicious cycle of buying, amassing and throwing away? This is where minimalism could come to the rescue: besides the obvious aesthetic reasons, it can also bring a number of benefits which go to improve your well-being, and consequently the quality of your work.
The minimalist style has been there in Western interiors for decades, but the idea itself is much older. The habit of staying in empty spaces which are expected to stimulate the human imagination dates back to the traditions of the Far East. We associate emptiness, which has been present in Chinese Taoism, Buddhism and Japanese architecture for centuries, with happiness and harmony – in contrast to Western culture where daily life is dominated by the pursuit of worldly things and, as a result, the excess of everything. It is therefore no wonder that minimalism has come to us too, and has been considered the number one trend, including in office spaces.
In interior design, minimalism is primarily characterized by a limited number of colours and items. Superfluous accessories and excessive ornaments are out of the question here. But a seemingly modest colour range does not mean boredom – the colour white, which can make a room seem larger, can be well softened with contrasting black, navy blue or grey. Different shades of green or pastel pink will fit in very well too. Also furniture does not have to be boring – after all, it will be the main decorative element here. Hence, in the minimalist style huge emphasis is placed on their form - interesting shapes, modular solutions or unusual edges can make a space look modern and light. It should be remembered, however, that less furniture and accessories means they will be more exposed, so particular attention should be paid to textures and the quality of materials from which furniture is made. Wood and metal are the dominant materials, as they blend well with glass, ceramics and stone. It is not the excess of items but their absence that makes a space sophisticated here.
The whole concept can also be successfully translated into how you organise your office. Minimalism in the workplace will enable you to get rid of what overwhelms you the most and inhibits you from developing your full potential. Research has shown that distractions in the workplace reduce productivity by 40% and increase mistake rate by 27%. It is not without reason that Japanese interiors designed for drinking tea are devoid of any decorations or furniture. Sometimes called ‘homes of imagination’, they support contemplation and stimulate creative thinking.
So, if you want to introduce the minimalist style in your office, you should try to only leave what is really necessary for you to do your job. On your desk, you need a laptop, a pen and a notepad, but not bookshelves hanging overhead, binders or tonnes of markers. Also here, minimalism does not need to be monotonous - this type of office can be enriched with colourful sound-absorbing panels, designer lamps or a note of greenery. Not to mention modern, ergonomic chairs which, in addition to their visual qualities, will improve the comfort of your work.
Just like you get rid of unnecessary stuff, you can also consider if it is necessary to perform all those processes and how to better organise your work. We tend to get used to multiple formalities that have long grown on our organisations. So it is worth to ask yourself the question: is each of the individual steps indispensable to do my job properly? In the time saved, could I already start working on something new or refine the end effect? Are all the reports and analyses really necessary? And do all of those documents really need to be in paper form? Better task planning and getting rid of distractions, combined with better organisation of space around you can bring immeasurable benefits for the entire organisation, and bring order and harmony, very often missed, to your office.
It is no secret that clean, well-organised space improves the quality of life, but also the quality of work. Minimalism in the office is a pragmatic choice: without clutter and superfluous items tasks become simpler, and the team is not distracted by unnecessary elements. A minimalist office is one that is modern, but also friendly for the staff and their needs.
For more on concentration in the office read our report: How to create a great office space? There are 5 main employee needs you should keep in mind. The report can be downloaded here.
1 Bruce. (2008). How much can noise effect your worker’s productivity.