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Place Matters: How Your Work Space Influences Productivity, Creativity and Collaboration

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. I don’t ACTUALLY have an office. Rather, I have work spaces I am drawn to depending on my mood and circumstances.

And I’m a complete fan of the ‘no office office’.

There’s my favourite café, Kush, where I can get the best Americano in town and soak up the vibe of the morning office crew as they fuel up on caffeine. This space is particularly great when I want to be around the energy of other people, but not necessarily enter a conversation.

Then, there’s my dining room table at home with this view.

Jealous much?

As a coach, I am around people a lot, so I need time to be alone. This is where I work when I need silence, inspiration, or long periods of uninterrupted space. It feeds my mind, body and soul.

I can’t forget about my pseudo office, AKA Benjamin Black Goldsmiths. “What…a jeweller’s workshop as an office?!” You ask? Yep, this is where I go when I wanna hang with my peeps, channel the team vibe, have some banter and get inspired by the amazing jewellery Ben makes.

This is why I love the work space at Benjamin Black Goldsmiths' workshop - here's Ben casually toasting a croissant "the jeweller's way"...

One of the reasons I love the work space at Benjamin Black Goldsmiths’ workshop is the fun, creative, quirky vibe – here’s Ben casually toasting himself a croissant for morning tea, “the jeweller’s way”…

On the odd occasion, when I can’t face structure of any kind, there’s this place. I’ll go here if I need a few minutes by myself or somewhere to think about an issue or idea.

Then there are the myriad of places I do my coaching…

It’s so refreshing to have this flexibility. There have been times where I am sure my ability to change my space daily, or even several times a day, to suit my needs, has meant the difference between productivity and burnout.

Why am I telling you this?

Place matters.

We are shaped by our environment.

Smart business leaders know how work space impacts performance.

They design and cultivate environments that support the culture they are trying to foster.

For example, HubSpot’s culture is based on a free exchange of ideas and information. Here, there are no offices – not even for the company’s founders. They rotate desks regularly and assign seating by pulling names out of a hat.

In this way the team are able to engage and connect more than if they were stuck in departmental silos. Team members also respond to the trust allotted to them by doing their jobs well.

So, ask yourself these questions:

What can we do with our current working spaces, the places we have meetings, or even the way we allow people to work, to foster more creativity, greater connection and collaboration?

What can we ditch or change in our current working environment, that is detracting (not adding) to a good workspace?

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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