Last October, I started my first traditional, 9-to-5 office job. Don’t get me wrong, I had a variety of jobs prior to this, but none mandated a traditional schedule nor came with an office. While I am (mostly) settled into my new gig, I am struggling to stay energized and productive when I am stuck in the same chair all day. Some weeks are easy because I get out of the office for meetings or to attend a conference, but on weeks when most of my work takes place in front of my computer, I find I need a change of scenery. This has me pondering the idea of “the office” as a physical space versus something less tangible.
So, for the sake of “research” I started documenting some of my work spaces and stashing them in a folder titled, “Today’s Office.”
In part, my desire for a flexible work space may be out of habit. As a student, and later as a freelancer, I grew accustomed to working from my laptop whenever and wherever I happened to feel inspired. For six years, I wandered the University of New Hampshire’s Durham campus looking for the place to study. Some semesters, I lived in the Dimond Library, while others I holed up the basement of the Memorial Union Building.
As it turns out, I am not the only one who feels this way. There are others writing about the exact same topic all over the web. This article recommends working from a different space to boost productivity, and adds, “even working from a different part of the office” can do the trick. This has definitely worked for me — some days it really is as simple as moving from my desk to the conference table.
I crave a working environment that prioritizes results over process. My job (like many others) requires a lot of writing. Let’s say, for example, I have a grant application on my to-do list. As long as the grant is submitted on time, does it make a difference if I wrote it in my office during regular working hours, at a local Starbucks, or even at 11 PM on a Saturday night on my couch?
So, where is today’s office? My actual office is in the McConnell Center, smack in the center of downtown Dover. Adelle’s Coffeehouse is nearby, but sometimes I really need to stretch my legs so I’ll walk down to Flight Coffee Co. instead. If I am in Portsmouth, nowhere beats the atmosphere (and the lattes) at Kaffee Vonsolln. To my surprise, I have done some of my best work from the Starbucks at Webb Place in Dover. I always think it is too loud, but before I know it, I am in a steady rhythm. Sometimes, I am home, but even when I am working from home, I still find I need to mix it up. I have a tiny office at home, but sometimes working from home means working from the dining room table. If I need to wander outside of my downtown Durham apartment, the Works Bakery and Cafe is a good spot to write. Plus, they have bagels!
Not all jobs can be done remotely, but thanks to advancements in technology, many can, and the need to go into the office is becoming archaic. In fact, according to this article, the number of telecommuters doubled between 2005 and 2015. So, what does this mean for future workplaces? For those of you whose work is portable, where do you work?
While I find moving to a new space to be helpful when my butt gets bored of the same old chair, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear from those of you who freelance or work from home that your experience is quite the opposite. Finding a quiet, distraction-free place to concentrate when you don’t have a designated office can be tricky. So, tell me — or better yet, show me: where’s your office today? How do you stay productive, inspired, and energized in your office?