Sunday, February 15, 2015

The 2015 Workplace

"Going to work" for a lot of people includes driving to an office, sitting in a cubicle and juggling between desk work and office meetings. While each day may bring new challenges, the scenery is basically consistent. What if we could incorporate new ideas to bring work into modernity? I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and there are some practical ways to revamp the work experience.

1. Technology

 If Apple comes out with something new, you can bet I will want it. I have my iPhone that I use for just about everything from games to calendaring to social. It is, by far, my most utilized device. I have this Macbook Pro that I love. It got me through law school, helped me pass the Bar Exam and is the only device through which I make blog posts. Like my phone, my computer is used daily. I own an iPad, and I have been trying to give the thing an identity. It's like some weird middle child for me. Part of its staleness is that I did not spring for the 4G capability, so it is dependent on Wi-Fi for functionality. I have been going through this mood of why do I need you? Lucas uses his religiously. My mom uses hers religiously. What am I missing? Oh yes, iPads in the office. So, the newest version of the iPad finds itself on my Birthday List - this time with 4G. Add to that a folding case with a keyboard and the whole way I attend meetings has changed. The iPad can really fill a gap that the laptop and phone cannot in the workplace.

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2. Location/Atmosphere

Why do I choose to go to local coffee shops to get work done on the weekends? Part of it is that it feels like a breeding ground for creativity and productivity - two things I can use more of on any given day. You walk in, you order your fuel of choice, you sit down and you make a space your own. Maybe that includes headphones playing your music, or maybe that involves the coffee shops's current playlist with the background noise of espresso machines and the chattering of other tables. That's me. I don't find distraction in the gentle sounds of productivity. In fact, I find it invigorating. I feed off of it almost more than the caffeine coursing through my system. For me, it's about the experience. It is about wanting to be plugged in to a larger energy. I am not the only one who feels this way. I was reading an article while at Little Cafe Eclectic today about Coffitivity. So, you're thinking Great, Jordan. I am in a cubicle Mon.-Fri. 8-5. I cannot leave to go to a coffee shop to do my work. Me neither. These folks did some research and found that a lot of people prefer that type of background noise, so you can listen to coffee shop noise through your headphones while you are anywhere. Seriously genius for a nerd like me.

Also, maybe you can change up your scenery. Where I am, sometimes we hold meetings in the break area or on the rooftop patio just to trick our brains into thinking we are doing something exciting. You know what, those have been some of the most productive meetings I have had. Sometimes privacy and quiet are necessary for a successful meeting. Other times, suggesting a lunch meeting, coffee shop meeting, break room meeting or patio meeting might be just the right thing to reengage in your work day.

3. Schedule

This one has fewer solutions. If it is a company's policy to be at work Mon.-Fri. 8-5, then there is little wiggle room for creative scheduling. I think part of what makes entrepreneurship so interesting to me, is that, while there is a ton of work, much of it is self-paced. Maybe you get up at 8:00AM, go to a coffee shop to read the paper and answer a few emails. Next, you might get in the car and drive to a meeting at your office and churn out more work for a few hours. But maybe you need to pick your kids up at 2:00, so you go do that. Maybe after dinner, you are motivated to dive into more work. The idea is that there is an appealing level of flexibility and the work is done at peak times of motivation and convenience. The trick here is that the individual must have the requisite amount of self-motivation. Most of Corporate America does not sustain on this type of work-life balance, but many thrive on the autonomy. When I was a student, it was incumbent upon me to get work done by deadlines in my free-time. Sometimes I miss that lifestyle, but I think there may be some flexibility. Typically, emails can be answered anywhere at anytime. Certain projects can be brainstormed over Sunday coffee. Unless there is intense risk of burnout, incorporate some work productivity in your free-time and on your terms. Then maybe "the office" won't have such a poor connotation when you come in on Monday.

4. Organization/Desktop

There are entire blogs, Pinterest boards and companies dedicated to office organization. More than half the battle in a job that juggles multiple projects with multiple teams is staying organized. That means, there is a supply list of necessities and fun things that can be combined to actually motivate you to use them. I have about six calendars in different formats. I obsess over all of them. I use Moleskine notebooks to stay on top of to-do lists. Every notebook I use is graph paper because I take more legible, organized notes on that type of paper. I have favorite pens and color-coded filing systems. These little tips and tricks make my life so much easier. Consider a revamp of your desktop and organizational system. It can make the difference between doing the backstroke into your workday and barely treading water.

What do you do to stay engaged and organized?

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