When asked where do you work, what is your answer?
The majority of people would, of course, reply with the name of the organisation/s that pay their salary.
However, where do you actually work? At what hours of the day are you at your most productive and what conditions are the best ones for you to do your job?
This week I found myself on a Tube train on London’s Underground network and it gave me time to think.
I have been reading the excellent new book Things A Little Bird Told Me by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone @biz over the past few weeks. (I was sent a preview copy, it’s coming out in the UK on 24 April – I will write a review in a few days, I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far and am nearly finished).
I usually prefer to read paper copies of books, however, I was sent this one electronically and have been enjoying reading through.
My device batteries were low, and knowing I was about to use them lots when I got to my destination, I put them away and decided to sit still. Anyone who knows me, will know that sitting still and doing nothing doesn’t come naturally to me!
I’ve been mulling over all sorts of ideas recently for projects I’d like to do and ideas for my blog. They have been whizzing around in my head and I’ve not tapped into them properly.
However, sitting on the Tube, they started to make sense. I’m a fan of mind-maps and often use them to help me plan everything from writing blog posts to choosing a nursery for my daughter last year. I found myself scrabbling in my bag for a pen and paper (as any good ex-journalist should have to hand…) and starting to doodle.
As I doodled and mapped, I realised the train carriage with its handful of people all locked into their own worlds, had become my place of work. I was adding structure to a collection of thoughts and having an extremely productive mini brainstorming session.
In her guest post on my blog last year, IC pro by day and comedian by night Julia Collings described this perfectly: “Have you noticed how you suddenly solve a work problem while you’re jam-packed in a commuter train, or have a project breakthrough while you’re washing up? It’s because we’ve disengaged our left brain and let our subconscious do its work and make those lightning-speed connections needed to come up with an idea. Most of the time you have all the answers inside of yourself – you just have to trust that they are the right ones.”
I’m not ready to share them with you yet, I will do so soon as I’ve got lots of people to contact to turn them into reality. But it got me thinking about conditions of work and how we can ensure employees are able to be creative and productive.
I have spent time at Google’s offices in London over the past few months, ahead of the presentation I gave at their Atmosphere event a couple of weeks ago.
Their offices globally are well documented in terms of the design and creating conditions for creativity to thrive. I was tempted to curl up in one of their large chairs with my laptop, because it looked like an inviting place to be.
My point is this – what steps can you take to find ways to unlock your creativity? If you’re struggling with an internal comms plan or working through a difficult conversation you need to have with a stakeholder, stop.
Go for a walk. Take a break. Go and sit at a hot desk. Do something to change what you normally do, and see what happens. Even if you need to go to the bathroom, walk to one that is further away from where you usually do your work – build in extra thinking time.
Do tweet me @AllthingsIC if you do this and let me know how you get on. Or if you have a tip that works for you, I’d love to know
The digital workplace
If you look carefully, the image opens larger, you can see that people appear to be working – and there’s not a desk in sight.
I think it captures the fact employees work in a variety of places well – we are productive when out and about as well as while seated in a beige cubicle or on the shop floor. Now, clearly, there are always going to be situations where it’s not possible for employees to work in this way, people in factories or driving trains for example.
However, by extension, this doesn’t mean as individuals that being aware of how and where we work and have productive thinking times can’t benefit our personal lives too.
Under the presentation James has written:
“Cities are a space of fluid exchange and interaction, vital for millions of us in our work. Yet just as technology enables our liberation from the confines of the office and broadens our horizons, does it also threaten to imprison us in an omnipresent digital workplace? Technology must enable human connection, not substitute or erode it. New concepts in digital interface design may provide a solution.”
The slides were presented in a ‘PechaKucha’ style at Green Capital’s HotHouse event at the PowerHouse Museum in Sydney on 26 March, 2014. See this article for more context and information.
I’m going to leave this presentation with you and would love to know your thoughts. As ever, you can comment below or find me online.
Thoughts from my network in response to this article:
@AllthingsIC If I need to think & create it’s got to be a quiet space, alone with a sheet of plain A4 and a pencil. Always pencil never pen
— Sally Dunbar (@Sally_Dunbar) April 16, 2014
— Anna-Clare O’Neill (@AnnaClareONeill) April 16, 2014
@AllthingsIC thanks! glad you found the city as workplace idea of interest 🙂
— chieftech (@chieftech) April 16, 2014
— Dawn Bratcher (@DawnieBratcher) April 16, 2014