Designing Your Dream Workspace - Personalizing a Shared Office

You finally landed your dream job in a cool new office space downtown. The only catch is that you have to share the open-plan office with a few coworkers. While the collaborative environment has its benefits, you were hoping for your own private corner to decorate as you please. 

Don't fret, with some creative thinking you can craft a personalized oasis within the shared space. All it takes is a few simple touches to make your desk feel like home. In this guide we'll share tips for customizing your workspace in a shared office so you can settle in and get down to business in a space that inspires you.

Define Your Style: Choosing Decor to Reflect Your Personality

Defining your style is key to making a shared workspace feel like your own. Start by choosing decor that reflects your personality.

Are you drawn to minimalism, or do you prefer lots of colors and textures? Do you want an ultra-modern look or something more rustic? Once you determine your style, let it guide your selections.

•For a minimalist vibe, stick to neutrals and clean lines. Get a few high-quality basics like a sleek desk lamp, a plush rug, and a comfy desk chair. Keep clutter and knickknacks to a minimum.

•If you want vibrant and eclectic, go bold with your choices. Look for statement pieces like patterned wall art, colorful organizers, or an eye-catching desk blotter. Mix and match textures, colors and time periods.

•For rustic charm, natural wood accents, woven baskets, and distressed finishes are perfect. Add warmth with a flannel throw blanket, scented candle, or potted plant.

•Contemporary spaces benefit from metallic or acrylic accessories, geometric prints and lots of light. A multi-port USB charger, mesh desk caddy and sleek monitor stand keep things streamlined.

Defining a style and sticking to it will make your space feel cohesive while still reflecting your unique personality. And remember, in a shared office, be considerate of your coworkers' needs as well. Compromise when you can, but don't be afraid to make the space your own. After all, you have to sit there every day - so make it a place you actually want to be!

Get Comfortable: Picking the Right Ergonomic Furniture

When it comes to a shared workspace, having the right furniture is key to your comfort and productivity. Invest in an ergonomic chair that supports your back and gives you options to adjust the height, lumbar support, armrests, and tilt. Your posture and health will thank you.

For your desk, choose one at an appropriate height for your seated position, typically around 29 to 30 inches high for most adults. A desk that's too low can strain your neck and shoulders. If standing desks are permitted and appeal to you, look for an adjustable model. Some even convert from sitting to standing for maximum flexibility.

Under desk storage, like drawers or a cabinet, gives you space to stash files and supplies while keeping your work surface clear. If allowed, task lighting aimed at your desk area helps reduce eye strain. Some desk lamps also provide ambient lighting for a calming space.

For computer monitors, aim for eye level and an arm's length away. This helps avoid neck pain from constantly looking down. If you share the desk, consider a monitor arm to easily change screen positions when the other person is using the space. A keyboard tray lets you keep your hands and wrists in a neutral alignment while typing.

With the perfect ergonomic setup, your shared workspace can be a productive and inspiring place. Focus on what you can control — your own space and comfort. The rest will fall into place.

Add Pops of Color: Using Accents and Accessories

Adding pops of color to your shared workspace with accessories and accents is an easy way to make the space feel more personalized without making any permanent changes.

Workspace Accents

Little touches like decorative trays, bowls, and catchalls are simple ways to add color that also keep your workspace organized. Use metallic gold or rose gold accents for a touch of warmth, or bright colors like cobalt blue or forest green for a bolder look.

Group accessories together on your desk or tabletop to create a stylish vignette. A tray can corral pens, pencils, paper clips, and other small items while adding a decorative touch. An accent bowl is ideal for stashing candy, mints, or other small treats to keep your energy up during long work sessions.

Colorful Organizational Tools

If keeping an organized, clutter-free workspace is a priority, invest in colorful desk organizers, file folders, and drawer dividers. A multi-level letter tray in a cheerful shade of orange or red is perfect for sorting incoming mail and documents. Color-coded file folders make it easy to categorize and access important papers at a glance.

Mesh drawer dividers are available in a rainbow of colors to keep all your desk supplies neatly separated and within easy reach. Use them to organize everything from paper clips to charging cables, notebooks, and more.

Whimsical Office Accessories

Don't be afraid to add a touch of whimsy with fun desk accessories like novelty pens, whimsical planters or pencil holders, or mini desktop toys like tiny terrariums, kinetic sculptures, or miniature zen gardens.

Items that make you smile when you notice them, like a pencil holder shaped like a favorite animal or quirky desktop toy, can help combat the stresses of a busy workday and remind you not to take yourself too seriously. After all, adding personal touches that boost your mood and motivation is what designing your dream workspace is all about!

Claim Your Space: Customizing and Personalizing Your Area

Claiming your own space in a shared office environment can make a big difference in your productivity and job satisfaction. There are several easy ways to customize your work area and make it feel like your own.

Personal Items

Add personal touches like family photos, art, plants or knickknacks that make you smile. Having familiar items from home in your space creates a comfortable environment and helps make the time pass more quickly.


If possible, look for ways to add extra storage to your area so you can organize your files and supplies. Things like under-desk drawers, wall shelves and desktop organizers give you room for everything you need while keeping your space uncluttered. Ask your office manager about options for additional storage if needed.

Accessorizing Your Desk

A new desk pad, keyboard tray or monitor stand are simple additions that can make your desk setup more ergonomic and visually appealing. Look for ones that match your personal style. You might also add items like a desk lamp, Bluetooth speaker, charging station or desktop Zen garden.

Divide and Conquer

If you share an open space with coworkers, use room dividers, partitions or large plants to carve out some privacy. While still being respectful of others, defining your own workspace helps minimize distractions and creates a sense of enclosure.

Making even small changes to personalize and customize a shared work environment can have big benefits for your productivity, focus and job satisfaction. Claiming your own space and filling it with familiar and functional items will make your time at the office more enjoyable and help the hours pass more quickly.

Foster Community: Building Relationships in a Shared Workspace

Working in a shared workspace means you’ll be surrounded by other people and the potential for distraction. However, it also presents an opportunity to build new relationships that can enrich your work life. Here are some tips for fostering community in a shared office environment:

Introduce yourself. Make an effort to meet the people sharing the space with you. Strike up a conversation, smile, make eye contact and engage them by asking questions about their work or role. People will appreciate your friendliness and it will make the space feel more comfortable for collaboration and connection.

Be considerate. Treat your office mates the way you’d like to be treated. Use headphones if you need to make calls or play music. Keep personal items in your designated space. Ask before borrowing equipment or supplies. Clean up after yourself in shared areas like the kitchen or lounge. Your thoughtfulness will encourage others to do the same, creating an environment where people feel respected and valued.

Offer to help. If you notice someone struggling with a task or looking stressed, ask if there’s any way you can assist them. Even small acts of kindness, like grabbing coffee or lunch together, can help build rapport and ease tensions when working in close proximity to others. Your generosity will likely be reciprocated, strengthening the bonds of community.

Suggest social interactions. Once you’ve established connections with your colleagues, propose low key social interactions like a weekly coffee meetup, group lunch outing or casual Friday drinks. Shared experiences outside of work help to create meaningful relationships. People will appreciate your effort to organize and your desire to bring coworkers together.

Fostering a sense of community in a shared workspace leads to higher job satisfaction, increased collaboration, and a more positive work environment overall. Take the initiative to get to know your office mates and build connections that make sharing space with others rewarding rather than distracting. With understanding and teamwork, you can design a shared office that feels like home.


So there you have it, some tips and tricks for making a shared office space feel like your own personal creative haven. Don't be afraid to put your own unique stamp on the space—add art, plants, knickknacks that inspire you. Ask if it's okay to paint an accent wall or bring in a colorful rug. 

Make the space multi-functional by including a standing desk, lounge area, as well as your main workstation. And most importantly, don't forget to add personal touches that make you happy like photos of loved ones or your favorite snacks. A little customization can go a long way in transforming an ordinary office into your ideal workspace oasis. Now get started designing your dream workspace! The possibilities are endless.


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