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For those who spend 40 or more hours at work every week, cultivating a cozier, more personalized office environment may lead to better professional results. According to new research, you can dramatically boost your productivity and morale by making your workspace a home away from home.

A 2009 study by the University of Exeter and Ambius, an international interior-design firm, surveyed a wide range of males and females, ages 18 to 70, from both England and the United States. Compared with colleagues working in uniform spaces, workers empowered to decorate their workspaces with personal items (like photos, plants, decorative items and memorabilia) showed average increases of 27 percent in feelings of well-being and 32 percent in productivity. Conversely, the research suggests that a uniform approach to design tends to foster a sense of alienation among employees, discomfort in the workplace, and it may even give rise to symptoms of sick building syndrome.

To learn more about turning your office into an inviting and comfortable space, read Office Feng Shui: Creating Harmony in Your Work Space, by Darrin Zeer (Chronicle, 2004).

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