Office Redesign: Take Back Your Space!

I feel so confined “behind” a traditional desk in my Principal’s office. As a general rule I don’t like to be still for long, and as an administrator if you are spending a lot of time in your office behind your desk it’s hard to be very effective; in my opinion! ;0) I’ve been tinkering with ways I could redesign my office at St. Paul High School; I am looking to do 3 separate things 1) Provide multiple functional areas for working, learning , & conferencing 2) Be more attractive to visitors (students, teachers/staff, parents, community) & myself  3) Provide for a higher efficiency workspace.

1)   Providing multiple functional areas for working, learning, & conferencing

I’ve been intrigued by the idea of a stand-up desk for about 3 years now. I first saw a picture of what Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin) did when he was a Principal at Burlington High School, MA; when he actually moved his office into the hallway with a standup model. Since then I have studied various stand up desk models and have been enamored with how awesome it would be to someday have such a contraption in my humble rural Arkansas office.

This summer while at ISTE my friend and fellow Digital Principal Jason Markey (@jasonmmarkey) and I continued our conversation from earlier in the year about this very topic and he actually followed up by sending me pictures of his awesome office redesign which included a standing desk. (So helpful Jason- Thank You!)

So, these were my “jumping off points.” I knew I wanted a stand up space where I would spend time in and out of the office during the day. I also knew I wanted a conferencing area to meet with students, parents, and teachers that was inviting and had a “homey” feel. I felt I also needed a third learning area that had a more traditional set-up that would enable me to do “dreaded paperwork” and also webinars, GHOs, etc…

Keep in mind……I HAVE NO MONEY! $$$$$ Our school seems to be more cash strapped than ever and the last thing I am willing to spend money on is my office! So this is also an “Office Redesign on the cheap!”

2)   Be more attractive to visitors & myself

My office has been somewhat reminiscent of what you see in the “Dilbert” cartoon…that doesn’t match with my personality or the culture of our school at all. I want an inviting space where all of our school community feels welcome. My office should be a mirror of who I am as a leader; that is my goal with this office redesign.

3)   Provide for higher efficiency workplace

The health benefits from standing vs sitting at a desk are well documented, as a diet coke swilling, junk food eating gal I need all the help I can get in the area of health! Beyond that there are multiple studies showing productivity to increase when you are standing (UCLA Ergonomics) in the workplace. I feel as a Principal who frequently comes in and out of my office throughout the day (I have a PreK-12 Campus with 4 buildings with a block of gravel road running between them.) the option of standing at a workstation will give me the ability to streamline tasks and get back into classrooms and with my students and staff faster.

First Addition to the office was a “Stand Up” Element. This was simply a tall table scavenged from a back room by my amazing maintenance man, Michael Roach. We totally reconfigured the office with this being the “centerpiece.” In the picture below you can also see chairs that go with the “conferencing” area and my cushioned standing pad one of my awesome teachers found for me at the local Surplus store…just like they have for cashiers at stores…it’s great! FYI- I do like zebra print a lot…but there is a huge hole in the carpet, so the rug is a necessary piece of the design, not just frivolity; but I admit I LOVE IT! ;0)

Rug:Stand Desk

To Right

This is the Conferencing Area. (Below) Using an existing piece of desk furniture, existing office chairs, and with the addition of new lighting to brighten an area that had previously been too dark this new conferencing area is very welcoming to those who enter the office. I finished it off by adding some personal touches; some of my collection of sports memorabilia which also matches our school colors (Royal Blue & White).

Conferencing Area

Conferencing Area 2

Seated work area (Below); this is right inside the door to the right and takes up as little space as possible allowing for the room to have a very open and spacious feel, yet still providing that traditional “workstation” where I can also do webinars and GHOs when needed.

Seated Work Area

Finally, no office can be complete without student artwork! This is one of my ALL TIME favorite pieces. It was done by a High School Student of mine five years ago and I am still totally in love with it! In case the picture is hard to see it says “Real Principals Wear Pink.”

Real Principals...


I’m excited to start the 2014-2105 school year with this awesome new office redesign!

One Response to "Office Redesign: Take Back Your Space!"

  1. Scott Smith said:

    Great insights Daisy! Love the design and ideas!

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