by Paula Blair
Making changes is easier than you think.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, Coworking Insights found that the numbers were split almost evenly between people working from:
1. home (30%);
2. an office (31%); or
3. a coworking space (32%).
Desks and workspaces in these 3 different environments can vary greatly. Some people might be working in windowless and scant 6-foot by 6-foot rooms, in a huge room in a sea of desks, or some space design in between. Regardless of the circumstances, occupiers of any workspace may be pumping out the work but feel like the day-to-day requires much effort to produce lackluster results. What are we missing here? This is what is overlooked. Slight changes in a workspace can reap huge benefits in inspiration, energy, and creativity.
Let’s talk about a few ideas for the three different workspace situations.
WORKING FROM HOME
A large segment of the working population was already working from home (WFH) before COVID-19, and surveys are underway to determine exactly how the WFH landscape looks after the great migration out of the corporate office to the home office. One thing is for certain though. It was previously thought that the average person spends 1/3 of their life at work. For the current large WFH population, the amount of time spent at work now equals 100%. Coworking Insights 2020 Future of Work Report shows that 47% of people working remotely feel their biggest challenge is overworking! Here are a few shifts for the WFH folks to make progress toward an inspiring and energizing workspace.
~ Face a different direction/Move to a different location. This simple shift can make a huge difference in what your eyes take in and what your focus is on. Take sitting at a breakfast bar as an example. If that is where you are, more than likely you are looking into your kitchen. Wow! How many distractions are in there? Is it pretty to look at, or are you looking at dirty dishes (or even clean dishes that need to be put away) or overflowing garbage? This is easy to take control of! Find a new place to sit with a close-to-ergonomic spot for you and your computer. Can you see some natural light? That is also a mood lifter. And for goodness sake, move your office out of your bedroom! It is tough to sleep in the middle of your workspace!
~ Cover the desk or table with a huge piece of paper. We cover hot desks at our coworking space with Kraft paper making disinfecting easier after the coworker leaves. It accomplishes that purpose, but what we didn’t expect is that people love writing on it, making flow charts, and drawing whatever pops into their heads. You can almost see the creativity oozing from them. It is such a little thing producing huge benefits.
~ Close up shop to stop working. Do you have some sort of line drawn in the sand for when you will stop working? If you do not, consider setting a time on the clock, choosing a milestone to reach or task to complete, and then STOP. However, stopping work is not enough. If your workspace or computer is in your line of sight, it’s easy to do one more thing, answer an email, make a note for tomorrow, and once that process is started your mind shift to work mode again. Close up shop when you reach your line in the sand. Put the work out of sight, and power down your equipment. Enjoy yourself!
~ Consider a local coworking space. Some people are fully functional creative and productive humans working from home. Other people lack focus, creativity
and discipline working from home. Kids, pets, the refrigerator, and all types of distractions suck the motivation right out of them. Coworking is a fantastic option for these folks. If working from home does not work for you, perhaps working near home would be a win. Search the internet for “coworking near me” and see what your options are.
WORKING AT THE OFFICE
Those of you working at your corporate office probably will not have the authority to make any sweeping changes to your workspace like facing a different direction or moving to a different location. Hopefully, you are able to add personal touches inspiration and encouragement.
~ A desk pad calendar may change your world. Yes, I know it is the digital age, and yes, I too use Outlook, Asana and Smartsheet to run my life. Yet my most recent mood lifter has been using a desk pad calendar (do not roll your eyes…it is the “What’s Happening This Week” desk pad by Cupcakes and Kisses.) Do you know what this desk pad has stopped me from doing? I no longer stop what I am doing to switch gears every time a to-do pops into my head. Instead, I force myself to write my thought on the planner. In the last 30 minutes of the day, I convert my notes into whatever digital part of my world in which it belongs. Voila! There are no more squirrels, rabbit trails, or anything else (OK, well occasionally I chase a squirrel) to take me off track. Plus, the desk pad is cute and it makes me feel good to look at it. My workflow has increased exponentially!
~ Get a spa-like accessory. There are great options to supply some zen while working at your office desk. Did you know they make hammocks for your feet? Yes, they do! It installs under your desks and allows for elevating your feet at different heights. The hammock gives new meaning to the words “feet up!”
Would something to nurture feed your soul?? How about a desktop bonsai tree?
~ Hang a print of something you find relaxing to rest your eyes. Looking at a monitor, or sometimes multiple monitors can be excruciating on eyes. If you hang a print you find visually interesting, you can shift your gaze to that periodically for a much-needed eye refresh.
EVERY idea listed under “Working At The Office” also applies in a coworking space. Please refer to that section. The home-type of distractions usually do not exist at a coworking site, but that doesn’t mean inspiration doesn’t run dry occasionally. Here are a few ideas.
~ Face a different direction/Move to a different location. The flexibility of coworking provides many opportunities for changing your visual landscape. A plus about moving to a different desk is not only is your view updated, but the people near you are also updated. The result is new connections and different types of collaboration. Those human interactions can boost inspiration in Nano speed.
~ Take a walk. Walking solves so many challenges. There is nothing like a walk outside to process a problem and run through solution scenarios. Your stuck project will be unstuck in no time.
~ Sit down with a coworker. Having another set of eyes and another brain applied to a challenge is never a bad thing. Find a coworker with a slightly different skill set than you and see if any magic happens. Often the process of unpacking a problem for someone else results in you having an epiphany. That rush of finding a way around, through or out of a huge challenge motivates and energizes you both.
We have barely glossed the surface of ideas on workspace changes that can fire up inspiration and energy. Please add your ideas to the comments below so we can all benefit from your wisdom and experience!