Prior to my life at BizDojo, I did not ponder my working style. My boss told me where my desk was, I sat it in said desk and did my work. Oh how foolish we all were. These days, everyone from Fonterra to ASB are adopting active work spaces, full of hot-desking and furniture with strange names. Work tends to be more self directed, and increasingly more is asked of you. It made me wonder if people take time to ask "How is this space fitting my needs? And when and where do I do my best work?"
First, analyse the kind of work you do
Look at an average week, and break down the kind of tasks you do and how much of your time is devoted to each category. Do you mainly work collaboratively, with occasional need for analytical work? Do you mostly work in private with a few meetings thrown in?
How much of your work is analytical: This is work that requires intense concentration. For some this may mean figures and budgets, for others it may be report writing.
How much of your work is creative: Work that requires space to stretch out, areas to play with vision. This may be design work, such as layout or product design, or it may be business vision work, needing you to spread out and really blue sky your ideas.
How much of your work is collaborative: Tasks that involve working with other people to achieve an aim. You may need a space away from concentrated working areas to discuss, brain-storm and bat around ideas.
How much of your work is private: Work in which you need literally no one to see what you are doing. This may relate to HR, payroll, or other confidential activities.
How much of your work is in meetings: and do you need these meetings to be private?
Second, think about the humans
You know, those rad beings that actually do-the-doing! Yeah, they have to be happy with what you have envisaged. Validate your thoughts with them - ask them if your assumptions about their type of work is right. Or go one step further and ask "Hey, so if you were going to be doing heaps of brainstorming, what would be the ideal situation for you to do it in?”
Don't just think about the kinds of work being done, think about spaces in which you or your team will do it best.
Are your team nesters? Collaborative workers who like having a home space for their many pens, trinkets and photos of their dogs? Free and easy types, happy to work wherever, as long as there is a power cord for their laptop? Do they like quiet or prefer the sultry dulcet tones of Celine Dion while they work? Does someone have dog and want to have a space for him to sleep under a chair?
In an ideal situation, you would be able to craft/access spaces that allow you to cover off all the kinds of work you want to do and the way you do them.
It is not enough to turn a workspace into a hot-desk zone and say “go nuts”, if those nesters we mentioned earlier are indeed collaborative but need space of their own. It would probably make way more sense in that setting to have some desks for them to call home and then also provide them with some break out space so they can do their collaborative, creative, craziness too.
At BizDojo we create spaces that move from social zones for chatting, eating and casual meetings; to active zones for collaborative work and hot-desking; to focussed zones for quiet concentrated working. There are meeting pods for meeting, and focus pods for super quiet, concentrated (and private work), alongside nooks for phone calls and the like.
“So why does this matter when I can shove Jane into that cold corner office where she has been for the last year?”
You know how I started this blog with a story about how I used to go to work, and my boss would go "Here is your desk - work”? Yeah, have we noticed I don’t work for those people any more? Now that I can work in spaces designed for my working style, I am more productive, my work quality is better and I am just a happier creature. Not only is working style a good thing to keep in mind for team productivity, but also for team retention. If you are a contractor or freelancer you have likely not thought about this kind of thing before, meaning your studio/home office might not be cutting the mustard, or you might not know what to look for in a coworking space or shared office!
I'm not telling you to go out and get the latest sit to stand desks, or fancy hot desking desks.
If you are a freelancer at home, it might be a case of just making sure you have a nook set up for brainstorming. If you have a conventional office, it might be thinking about how you do your best work, and what your team needs to facilitate theirs - it might be as simple as a white board. But of course, you could always come and see us… we have it covered!
Anya works from BizDojo Auckland and likes to spend her time in a focus pod in the quiet end of the space or on the bar leaners in the super social end of the building. Follow her on twitter here.