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What Makes a Space An Office?

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Chris Brogan has had a few recent posts and videos where he has included photos of his new office. I read the posts, and looked at the photos and found myself looking at the office, desk, post-it notes and even pens that were visible in the photos.

When I visit a client’s office for the first time, I am hyper aware of all of the art, furniture, and books that have been carefully placed in the space.

As an avid reader, a real treat is to survey the books on the shelves of clients around the world.

I have on many occasions made mental notes of books on the shelves, and made sure to look them up when I was back at my computer. I have found some great books on leadership, coaching, education, and diversity this way.

Observant by nature, my interest in the spaces where people live and work can perhaps be seen as paralleling an anthropological exploration.

  • Is the office modern? Old? What type of furniture has been chosen for the space?
  • What art has been chosen for the walls?
  • Are there photos around? What types of photos? Family? Pets? Outdoor adventures or vacations?
  • Are there awards or citations displayed on the walls?
  • Are there toys in the office? Objects that might be tools to spark creativity?

I have seen offices with stress balls, stability balls, mini pools, big stuffed animals, hanging mobiles, dart boards, a punching bag, and photos of celebrities spanning the decades.

Similarly, I am often interested in the spaces and places where people work outside of the traditional office.

As someone who has been working outside of the traditional office environment for many years, I realize that we can be particular about the type of space that we chose to work.  It is more than finding wi-fi . It is often finding the place that “feels right.”

I would imagine that many of us would like to be workshifting with beautiful vistas for inspiration. A recent project in Miami, allowed me to work from my room which had a lovely terrace, and an amazing view of the beach.

More commonly, I am working on planes, in airports, hotels, cafes, and my apartment. I prefer quiet spaces, and ideally spaces that are not crowded. Art on the walls is always a plus, and my preference would be no music.

I like to have my small “to do/idea” book with me, and even if on the laptop, prefer to have my Blackberry out and available. I like to open my two e-mail accounts, and as a Twitter fan – launch TweetDeck when I settle into the space.

I walk into the café near my apartment which is buzzing with people working; some on laptops, others reading, others writing, and am reminded about the different styles, personalities, and preferences of workshifting.

Our personalities and values are often reflected in the spaces in which we live and work. As we see others take notice of the benefits of the workshifting world, it will be interesting to see how virtual office spaces, hotel office spaces, and even cafes evolve.

Perhaps we will see a trend similar to the sleep pods popping up around the world. “Workshifting pods” could be on the horizon. I look forward to exploring some of your pods, and bookshelves in the future.

What makes a work space right for you? Are there “things” you need in order to create a work space that is best for you? Do you like people around in the space where you are working?

Photo Credit: mkosut

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  • http://www.workfromhomewisdom.com/information/my-home-office/ Judy Heminsley

    I love your article, Tanya, and am pleased someone else is as curious about other people’s work environments as I am! If possible I always prefer a few moments to look around when I’m shown into an office or I find it hard to concentrate on what’s being said while simultaneously noticing all the little bits and pieces that make it individual!

    I have a page on my website devoted to home offices, where home workers send me a photo and some words on what they like about their space. Fascinating stuff!

    • Tanya M Odom

      THANK YOU Judy. I think we are aligned in our curiosity about office spaces. The space on your website sounds fascinating! I will check it out. Many thanks, Tanya

  • http://www.growcomms.com/ Russell Palmer

    I love your idea of the work pods. Something like the tube hotels in Japan, completely functional but you would never want to spend more time there than is necessary. I’d happily pay a fee to have a small desk with power and network plus other office facilities.

    The companies like Regus that provide serviced office space for startup companies tend to charge far too much for an individual nomad. There’s a business opportunity there.