I’m not usually a very ‘office-y’ person. I’m self employed so tend to fit admin in when I’m on the move – utilizing the lovely ‘train-office’ thanks to the plugs and wi-fi on EastCoast – or when I’m at home – the equally pleasant ‘sofa-office’ complete with dog at my feet and occasional child wandering into my Skype calls.
But for the last couple of weeks I’ve spent more time in an office than I’ve done for the past twenty years – at a proper desk, with a window (Thames view) and a height adjustable swivel chair. Why? I’m on my Clore placement and sitting at a desk is part of the package. And whilst I’m there finding out all about a completely different way organisation, I find that I’m also learning heaps about myself. Again. Here’s my top five lessons learnt so far:
1. Sitting at a desk in an office makes you feel part of something
I usually work remotely for organisations – I do the work for them but not in their spaces. This time I’m travelling in to a specific space, sitting with others who work there, seating lunch in the same cafe or in the same social space, and taking in the office decor – including photos. pictures and posters chosen as they link to the organisation and its mission. And it does all have an impact. I feel a sense of belonging, a greater sense of involvement and responsibility. Interesting.
2. I get more done when I’m not constantly interrupted
Obvious isn’t it. At home there is always something else to divert my attention. Washing needing doing, dog wanting a walk (photo above is of our local stone circle – very easy to be attracted to a quick walk up there with the woof). Even on a train there are tickets to find, other passengers to move bags for and even times you need to pack up dead quick as you’ve suddenly found its your station next. In an office I find I focus more – I have to in some ways to block out the office ‘hum’ from other people working. I stay on one task longer and take fewer breaks.
3. Loads of stuff really does happen at the water cooler
Its true. The casual contacts you make outside of the formal meetings structure really are the ones that drive change. How do I replicate this when back working from home?
4. Attitude is everything
Smiling is huge. A simple smile at the reception desk can transform the drain of your journey and have you smiling by the time you reach your desk too. Magic.
5. I need at least three things to work on at a time
Having said I can focus more when sitting at a desk in an office, I also need to recognise I work best when cycling through two or three things at a time. When I hit a block with one, I automatically shift to the next and let my subconscious take over. When I come back to the original task, the block has usually gone – and quite often I have a load of other stuff shifted out of the way too.
My own image this time and remember if you have enjoyed this and want to read more, you can subscribe to Jo Verrent’s blog by email.