I believe a lot can be said about an organization by the way the work space or “office” is set up just the same as the way you keep you work space says a lot about you. Work space has really changed over the years and continues to change. Are the days of the corner office gone? Not quite, it just looks different. Having your own office once meant status, I was so excited when I had my first office, I had made it. Now, I see the office as somewhat of a hindrance, so I am mobile and when I am in the office, the door is never closed. I find it liberating to be able to work from anywhere and why should we have to be tied down to one spot all day long. Some would argue that you need to store sensitive information, have private conversations, etc. This is certainly true in some cases but your documents do not have to be printed, why do we print so much anyway. You can find a private place to speak that is often times more productive without a desk as a barrier.
When I was first exposed to work places that had video games, communal areas, beer taps, espresso machines, and so on I thought there was no way anyone could be productive with so many distractions. Wow, was I so wrong. I was impressed by the open communication, the fellowship, and the work ethic on display and I began to wonder what is the best environment. I don’t believe there is one. What is great for one person in most cases is not what is best for another. I recently started watching the show Gilmore Girls from the beginning (thank you Netflix) and there was an episode from 2004, yes 13 years ago on the very subject of changing the way you do business and connect with your customers. Gone were the days of canapes and cocktail receptions and in were the days of thoughtful entertainment to connect with your clients. Is this not true of coworkers as well? I believe they are one in the same.
The most controversial work space of them all, working from home. I know of several people who work from home and they are much more productive that many people I know in the office. Then on the flip side, I know of people who work from home that truly take advantage. While working from home is great for someone in a project based role or a sales role, a face to face customer based role is certainly not appropriate to even suggest working from home. Speaking to so many on each side setting boundaries, goals, and clear expectations is vital. Set office hours, get dressed (not yoga pants from pajamas), move around, go to a coffee shop, have lunch out- working from home does not mean slaving away around the clock or freedom to watch TV around the clock. Understanding what works for you and your organization is key, if you crave water cooler talk, maybe this is not the right fit for you.
In my main gig role, it hasn’t made sense to work from home unless it was outside of my normal work day and I needed to catch up on something. Even with that, my door is open, I take walks around the building inside and out, I have a desk modification so I can sit or stand, I have made it my own den of productivity. In this world and at certain levels the most effective is to manage by walking around, don’t make people come to you. I also make it my ideal temperature, although most who know me say it is too hot, my ideal temperature allows for less typing mistakes as noted in this study from Cornell. My side gig (what you are reading is part of it) allows me an entirely different perspective. This oftentimes involves a glass of wine, some music, or an outdoor space for letting my juices flow. Either way, I do have boundaries I set time limits so I don’t get carried away.
I love this subject, I can share about it for hours what I appreciate most is that you can walk away from “work” and the “space” with your intellectual property that is so much more valuable than the physical property of an office or desk.
I work well with a blend of everything covered here, what space is ideal for you?
**I really enjoy this piece from Harvard Business Review on the subject as well**