Everyone reading these words has a place where they work. And most of you have a place where you work best. The goal of this article is to help you make sure those places are one and the same.
If you work in a cubicle or office provided by your employer, you might think you can dismiss this article and move on to something else.
Let’s go back to the start — I want you to find ways to make the place you work a place you can do great work.
All of the questions and advice below applies to you regardless of your working situation. It applies to you as a leader of others who you want to support in doing great work or as an individual doing your work as a team member and individual contributor.
Our Starting Point
Our environment impacts our results. When the environment is right, we are more productive, less stressed, healthier and happier. We are also less likely to leave for another job, more likely to be more pleasant to co-workers and customers and generally better off personally and professionally.
Questions to Consider
To get you thinking about the linkage between environment and productivity, let’s start with some questions. Get out you notepad or your journal and answer these questions on paper. The answers are important enough for you to invest time in thinking on paper.
In what situations/spaces/environments do you feel most personally productive?
If your current working location isn’t in this list, what keeps it from making that list?
What kind of space do you seek out if you can work wherever you wish?
How much of your time do you work in places where you feel productive?
What could you do immediately (in less than a week) to improve or change your environment, based on your answers to these questions?
Time spent thinking about those questions is important. Taking action on your answers is more important. Here are some general steps to take, based on your answers above.
- Recognize how important your working environment is to your productivity. It isn’t just nice to have, it is critical. As a working professional, your productivity is a big part of what you offer to your company. Make sure you are allowing yourself to bring your best self.
- Use any flexibility you have in where you work to your advantage. Use your answers to the questions above — don’t just go to a coffee shop because that is where everyone else goes or to the nearest place that happens to have Wi-Fi.
- Think about how different kinds of work might work better in different environments, and be willing to alter your location or environment, based on the work needs.
- Think ergonomic. If you haven’t thought about desk space, chair heights and computer positioning, include them in your thinking. A small adjustment here could make a big difference.
- Think emotional. What could you add or change to your environment to connect you to other important parts of your life beyond work? A picture could go a long way — the right picture might go further than you might imagine.
- Get creative. As I said at the start of the article, be open-minded about this. Perhaps the changes you can make to your space are limited, but what changes can you make?
- Challenge assumptions. Talk to your manager about the options for changing your working environment. If you come to them with a plan and reasons why you want to make adjustments (your answers to the questions above will likely be pretty impressive and persuasive), you might be surprised what you could do — to change your space or have flexibility to work from different locations, etc.
These are general questions, valuable for everyone to consider regardless of your role. What about if you are a leader?
If you are a leader responsible for the productivity of your team, remember the importance of the working environment. Use these questions for your own workspace, but consider using these questions to create a conversation with your team about how they can improve their workspaces with your help. This conversation will be welcomed and will likely lead to very positive results.
If you believe my premise — that our environment impacts our results — you know that taking the steps here will make a difference in how effective and productive you and those you work with are.
A Final Thought About Remote Work
If you work virtually, asking yourself these questions, and taking these actions is vitally important to your success. In fact, taking your working environment seriously could be the most important thing you do to improve your results — both emotionally and financially.