Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.
Sustaining the Journey
Designing YOUR Surround
May 4, 2023
As Thinking Collaborative trainers, we are always attentive to using space to enhance learning and psychological safety. We design the surround to attend to as much as in our control—room arrangement, visuals, sight lines, lighting, technology, materials, sound, temperature, etc. The same principles apply to your personal work space whether it be a cubicle, an office, a classroom, or a dining room table. This month we consider some questions to help you think about your own workspace to hopefully encourage you to also consider designing YOUR surround.
HOW DO WANT IT TO FEEL?
Are you wanting something very casual or more of a professional look?
Do you want it to be private and just your space to escape to or do you want an open-door policy where others can easily feel a part of the space?
What kind of boundaries do you want? Doors, partial walls, totally open?
What furniture reflects how you want it to feel?
HOW WILL THE SPACE REFLECT YOU WHO ARE?
Does your office reflect your identity?
What is on the walls and shelves? Art, degrees in frames, family pictures, posters, kids art?
What do visitors see first?
I always had my dog’s bed as part of the furniture. It still feels like something is missing now that he is gone.
Some people have a space for their kids in their office so that they feel welcome.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO FEEL EFFICIENT?
What technology do you need for your work?
How does music affect your work style?
Are you able to store things so that there is little clutter visible?
How do you organize your desktop for maximum efficiency?
Do you have work supplies readily available?
Is your filing system working for you or does it need revision?
What distractions might you eliminate?
Does the design allow for multi-tasking?
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO FEEL COMFORTABLE?
Does the furniture allow you to do the work you need to do?
Is the space one that makes you feel productive and comfortable?
Is the arrangement soothing and relaxing to you?
Do you feel ownership of the space?
Is the noise level appropriate for your needs?
Is the lighting serving your work needs?
WHAT DO YOU WANT OTHERS TO FEEL WHEN THEY ENTER YOUR WORKSPACE?
How does the design support collaboration?
How does the design allow others to work?
Does the design create any barriers?
How does your space appear on Zoom meetings? Is the light good? Does the background reflect what you want to say?
What might be visible that creates discomfort or distraction, e.g., political items, religious items, unusual artifacts?
ONE LAST TIP:
If you feel stuck on something, rearrange your space or go to a different space. That simple movement can open the mind and provide new insights.
Hopefully these questions can guide you to a design tour of your work space. Enjoy the results!