A little bit of sunshine in my office

It continues to amaze me how much work environment really does impact your mood, motivation and essentially your engagement at work.   This week I was extremely fortunate to get a beautiful massive bunch of flowers given to me.  They were sitting out on the kitchen table when I suddenly realised I should totally move them to my office (especially since the bunch was so big I could keep some in the lounge and some in my office).    It spurned me on for a little office clean up,  tidied up my files, wiped down the counter and boy does it feel good.   Just walking in this room lifts my spirits.

I have to say that it wasn’t always this way.  I spent several years working in a tiny room under our house, it was cold,  dark, messy  and dingy.  I used to wear a beanie, scarf and fingerless gloves to work.   Not surprisingly i wasn’t feeling my most engaged during this time.

So when I had the opportunity to create my own office space,  I relished in the light bright space I was able to create.  I’m still waiting for the perfect chair to sit in the corner  (for when I am pondering very important strategies), and more shelving etc etc.  But when I walk into this room I feel a great sense of joy and empowerment.  My space.

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And you don’t have to have your own office space to create the same feeling.  Years ago I worked in an office environment that my team had affectionately called “the prison”.  Now, I’m not sure exactly how much affection was in that term really…because it was pretty horrid.   Someone had complained about the light from outside (that would be the sun!) on their computer screens.  The wise office management team thought an appropriate solution was to cover the entire window in brown paper.  Yep…it’s true…the WHOLE floor to ceiling window.   Unfortunately, they also insisted the paper had to stay until a more permanent shading system was implemented….which incidentally was literally YEARS later.    Although it was pretty horrid, I was still surprised when this came up as a top issue in one of our employee engagement surveys. But really, why was I surprised that my employees were uninspired, when I’d given them an uninspiring work space to work with?!   So after a bit of creative thinking and a couple of late night stints (complete with pizza and a lot of laughter) we covered that brown paper with branded posters,  hung fish from the ceiling (yes fish…it’s a long story…) and painted our cubicle poles.  So whilst it was may still have been a tad dark,  the enthusiasm and colour of our teams still radiated through.

In a few weeks time my real office (not my beautiful chillin home office space) are moving to a new location and launching a new office design,  where no one gets an allocated desk and the space is split into different work related sections..like a “collaboration” space and quiet space.  I expect this may be a challenge for some people.   I wonder what spirit this new space will evoke in those teams? I love this little experiment and might have to sneak into the office a few times in the next month and see how it feels.

In the meantime, I’m blissfully happy in my little work sanctuary, where I can smell the roses…literally….





Will commuting to work become a thing of the past?

Last week I decided to drive for nearly 4 hours so that I could meet some of my team members in person. Now…I am a massive advocate of virtual working and I am really fortunate to work for a company that has amazing technology and the right culture to support virtual working. But I was still craving that connection that comes with meeting someone in person .

By chance, nearly all my current team members were going to be in the one location at the same time and it was too good an opportunity to miss out on a real team lunch. So I got up at the crack of dawn, jumped in the car and started driving.

I have to confess I kinda enjoyed this alontraffice time in the car. Since I normally work at home, I don’t commute, I go straight from my role as mum to my role at work without a moments breath between them. My days are filled with to do lists and actions, I pretty much NEVER just sit listening to the radio.  So this time went by quickly and smoothly.  Ahhh… Unfortunately,  I then hit the city and pretty much ground to a halt. Suddenly my blissful time in the car became frustrating and annoying, reminding me that virtual working has made it possible to avoid this on a daily basis.

When I finally arrived at the office, it was like a weird reunion. Here are the people that I work with every day, speak to every day and know their faces (from photos in the system and dodgy Google + “hangout” meetings and Skype)…yet at the same time, it is weird seeing them in the flesh, being able to lean over the desk and ask them something.   It was lovely going out for lunch and having conversation about the weather and the clothes we were wearing, that idle chit chat that remote workers miss out on.   I was quickly brought up to speed with the latest gossip (some good, some bad) and I had the opportunity to have a career 1:1 discussion with my boss…in a meeting room!

It was an exhausting day but as I climbed back into the car to make the long commute home, I felt both energised and excited.  However,  I reflected on it all on the way home (I had plenty of time, due to a breakdown causing an extra hour on my already long trek)

Whilst I was really glad that I was able to take this opportunity to connect on a different level, I also realised how strong our connection already was.   Working remotely has allowed me to become uber productive, to avoid wasting time in the commute and also to be able to focus when I need to. And when I need to connect, when I need to feel like a team, the others are there…on the end of the line.

Of course, we have to work harder than others to create this, we have to make time in meetings to talk about the “mundane” stuff, like what we did at the weekend. We have “virtual coffee” meetings to catch up on gossip and we use all the online collaboration tools to make our projects run like clockwork.  But ultimately,  the modern workplace has really evolved,  and it is possible to have human connections…remotely.    It feels like just another reminder not to get too caught up with what has worked in the past and embrace a future which might mean doing things differently…not better, not worse, just different.