I am very passionate about functional office decor. It can be useful for a few reasons: making the most of your office space (which is usually small), and creating opportunities for students to move around the room – learning material in a different way or space. From wall decor to creative furniture solutions, below are 6 tips for functional office decor.
Interactive Bulletin Boards and Posters
Everything I put on my wall is interactive, can be used as an aid, and can be used in my sessions. After adding the essentials (confidentiality poster, group expectations, etc.), I do this in a few ways. First, I consider what topics and information I reference the most when students are in my office. I always try to incorporate posters and bulletin boards that align with those topics. Some examples are regulation posters for size of the problem, a calm corner, and mindfulness tracing posters. I have also found it helpful to have resources handy for student conflict/drama like a conflict resolution bulletin board. When I feel I have included the topics I reference the most, I move on to adding material that I would want my students to know. It gives me the opportunity to refer to it on occasion and them the opportunity to ask about it.
Set Up Stations
Get creative with this one! Set up different areas around the room that can be used throughout the day/week. Some examples would be a calm corner, an area for groups, an area for individual sessions, a mindfulness station, actual centers for plans that week, etc. Someone mentioned they always keep a table with a puzzle out for individual sessions or when a student just needs to talk (love that!). Stations can be especially helpful if your schedule is always back-to-back with no time in-between.
Try Out No Desk
Small office? Instead of having a desk, try using your group table. You may lose some storage, but you’ll gain space and it might even add to the welcoming atmosphere you have created in your office.
Push Filing Cabinets Together
Another hack for a small office: push your filing cabinets together and use as student space. To do this, I push my cabinets together end-to-end and cover with bulletin board paper. I won’t lose wall space and it doubles as storage!
Utilize Storage Cubes
Storage cubes are great for additional storage but also add a flexible seating option. I like to keep chairs on one side of my table and cubes on the other. I can push the cubes under if needed, and store extra chairs to replace them behind a curtain. Around back-to-school time, Target has storage cubes with their dorm furniture – sometimes there is even a sale!
Strategically Placing and Hiding Items
Sometimes our offices are used to help a student regulate. You’ll want to prepare in case things escalate. I always place anything breakable out of reach and keep anything irreplaceable, essential, or potentially dangerous hidden away. In my office, these items include: anything with glass (frames, B&BW lotion bottles, etc.), push pins, my stapler, scissors (kid and adult), a salt lamp, most technology (iPad, iPod, etc.), cleaner, important paperwork, and more.
It’s also important to consider items that are overstimulating. These can be distracting in your sessions and make it more difficult for a student to regulate. I always keep games, most fidgets, and other sensory items behind a curtain or in a cabinet, and anything super colorful or with a lot of texture hidden away. Keeping your office organized and uncluttered can prevent overstimulation as well.
Whether you are a new or experienced social worker or counselor, I hope you found at least one of these helpful! Looking for ready-to-go functional posters and bulletin boards? Check out my Dot Dudes Office Decor Set.
For more office tips, check out this post about setting up an incentive system.