Cultural Clues, Hidden in Plain Sight

What does your workspace say about you? About your organization?

This may have never crossed your mind – but it really should. Workspaces can spur on any number of positive behaviors and organizational outcomes. Your surrounding environment has the potential to enhance opportunities for communication, encourage creativity, and possibly provide the needed spark for innovative thought. I find that workspaces are the most underrated of workplace variables. The power is there – but we often fail to acknowledge that power.

Workspaces are quite telling, as they often seem to reflect what is operating on a deeper level. I’ve seen all sorts of spaces – cluttered environments, dark conference rooms and walls without color. These environments always seem to say something about its residents. It saddens me, when I walk into an organization and I feel no energy – workspaces reflect this. We internalize the essence of what is around us, and workspaces are no different.

Imagining the Possibilities

Ultimately what is right for you, or your organization, workspace-wise is a personal choice. However, there are so many unique options available to express your work life or the culture of your organization. (Steelcase offers some inspiring ideas. See several design directions here and here). There is really no wrong answer to the workspace question – the question just needs to be asked.

So, what is your workspace contributing to your work life? Your organization?

Benefits in Every Corner

As much as we’d like to think that skills are the only factor contributing to excellence, the fact remains that where we work contributes to how we work. Here are just a few reasons to pay attention to the physical space where you work:

  • Form follows function:  If you don’t have a workspace that flows with your work, it is likely that you will be less productive. Workspaces should support your intended activities.
  • Surroundings can help you create:  Working in a well-designed space can help spark ideas. Qualities such as color, lighting, sound, office configuration and furniture — all come into play. The right workspace design can enhance the creative process.
  • Project a positive image:  Your physical space is a reflection of how you see yourself and your business. The style, form and function of your space, all contribute to this. If you work in the creative realm (advertising, design, etc.) your workspace is even more critical – as it reflects what you can do for your clients.

Beneath the Surface

Becoming more effective can possibly start on the surface and trickle down to the other aspects of your work life. When you really think about it – sometimes “rearranging the furniture” is much more than it seems. Some ideas to consider:

  • A little peace:  Wherever you are — on the road, or at home base — incorporate some calming elements. Work life can be mired in drama, so utilize your work space as a key to regain balance.
  • An inspiration:  Your workspace can be an energizing force in your work life. Fill your work environment with people, conversation and visual cues that help you feel positive and successful.
  • A reflection:  At the very core, your space should convey the respect you hold for your work, and what you have set out to accomplish. Your surroundings should celebrate not only your past, but where you intend to go.

How does your work space reflect you and your work? We’ll be discussing this topic at #TChat forums this week (May 14/15) — so join the conversation — or weigh-in with your comments below!)

Image Credit: “Mad Men” AMC Networks

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