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First impressions are difficult to undo, and how you decorate your office reflects on you both as an individual and as a professional. Decorate and personalize your office in a welcoming and professional way so that both you and your visitors will feel comfortable. It’s worth spending a bit of time and money to get right—after all, during the workweek, you likely spend almost as much time at the office as you spend at home.
Display diplomas, prestigious awards or a tasteful photograph of your family in a frame. Hang two or three items on the wall, and place the photo on your desk or credenza. Artwork has its place in the office, although it is not meant for self-expression. Choose artwork that is non-controversial and that matches your décor.
Decide on a color scheme and stick to it. Purchase office supplies such as staplers and organizers in this color. If you have a bulletin board, paint the trim in this color as well. Choose a professional color, though, such as red, navy blue or forest green. Pastels or fluorescents do not give off an aura of professionalism.
Purchase a small rug to add an accent to your office. Place it to the side of your desk or underneath a coffee table so that visitors won’t trip on it. The primary color should go with the color scheme you picked out.
Select a desk lamp that has a sleek design. The lamp will give your office a warmer look, as the light will offset florescent bulbs. Stay away from lamps with frilly shades.
Put an item on your desk that attracts visual interest, is a puzzle or is interesting in some other way. Help people to feel at ease by choosing something that they can pick up and examine or play with.
Bring books that are related to your field and place them on a bookshelf. You may want to add a couple of unrelated non-fiction titles to the mix, as long as they are not political in nature. A well-stocked bookshelf appears professional, and the books can be good conversation starters. Leave plenty of room on the bookshelf for a knick-knack or two. An overcrowded bookshelf says “sloppy” rather than “professional” in the work environment.
Buy a plant or two. According to WebMd, researchers have found that red ivy, English ivy, variegated wax plants, asparagus ferns and purple hearts are capable of removing contaminants from the air. This is especially important in an office, where employees can be exposed to carpet and copy machine fumes in a recycled air environment. Limit your plants to one or two, however, as an office that resembles a jungle is not perceived as professional.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.