One of the things I miss most in my facilitation practice during COVID-19 is the ability to vary our venues. Where we hold a meeting affects what happens in that meeting, and working from home has limited our options. Switching our virtual background or moving from our dining room to our family room are poor substitutes.
Place matters, in so many ways.
I’ve used this pandemic period to create a new office space. It’s amazing how a carefully designed and curated work environment has positively affected my mood and productivity.
Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman write about this in The Happy Healthy Nonprofit: “When nonprofits invest in creating physical spaces that make employees what to show up for work, staff will be more engaged, productive, happy and healthy.” (p. 138) They reference Gensler’s Workplace Index, which suggests that people need four different types of work areas to be productive: areas to focus, collaborate, learn and socialize.
Are there ways you can re-engineer your current work spaces to allow for those four things? What about your work habits? Or your meetings?
Once specific technique I’ve been trying is to incorporate gathering and leaving time into Zoom meetings, rather than hitting the red “End” button right when the meeting time is finished (as tempting as that may be!) It takes some getting used to, and some creative calendar management. People need permission to arrive and leave a session on time, but also to join a bit early and linger a bit longer afterwards if they’d prefer. Few of us would admit we miss small talk, but we do need casual reconnection time with people. I realize it’s an oxymoron to plan for spontaneous conversation, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
We likely don’t have full control over our work environments in these strange days. But where and when we do, let’s remember that they are still worth protecting and leveraging in creative ways.
PS – I thought you might enjoy seeing what I needed to clear off my desk before taking the picture. What do the books on your desk say about you?