YOU are YOUR Environment

The office was really sparse. All it had was your basic office furniture and set up. There was no decoration, no pictures of any kind. Nothing had been done to give this work space any kind of personality. People frequently commented on what a drab space it was, saying things like:

“Why don’t you have a picture of your husband on your desk?”
“You know a few Dilbert cartoons would really bring this place to life.”

The truth is I didn’t want to settle in and become comfortable. I did not want to customize my office. I did not want to become attached to this space or to this job. I already knew where I wanted to go and I did not want to get distracted from that goal. This was a challenge. I was working with a really great company with some truly wonderful and intelligent people. These people treated me with tremendous respect. Why wouldn’t I want to relax, put down roots and stay awhile?

I kept that office bare and a bit uninviting on purpose, to keep me focused on another goal. That goal was to start Meloni Coaching Solutions. My approach to my office may have been a bit dramatic, but it really reminded me of where I needed to go. I don’t know how people interpreted my work space, but what it was saying was, “She is not committing to this place, she is not allowing herself to put down roots.” I worked just as hard on my assignments and darn it, I still formed attachments to the people; but eventually the day came when I had to jump out there and commit to my dream fulltime.

Now that I have followed my dream, my office is my sanctuary. It is comfortable and inviting and I am surrounded with all kinds of fun decorations and pictures.

Look around you, what is your work space saying about you? Are you that person who straightens everything up and aligns your chair, your trash can and your pen/pencils before you walk out the door each evening? If so, people probably perceive you as precise, exacting and maybe a bit inflexible. Perhaps you are the exact opposite? You know where everything is in your work environment but others are afraid to approach your space. You might be perceived as disorganized and chaotic and creative. Do you think a new manager or peer viewing your work space for the first time might form an opinion based on what they see? Sure, they will. Of course we hope that they temper that opinion based on observing you as a person too.

Does this sound far fetched to you? In the past I have worked for two different companies where the management team requested a complete work space clean-up and realignment just because executives from the corporate office were visiting. Plenty of time and energy went into this exercise and all so that a group of about five people could do a quick walk through of the area. Clearly someone was concerned about the impression our work spaces would project.

Does your work space support who you want to be? In the example I shared with you at the start of this article, my work space supported my goal of breaking away and starting my own business. Barring any specific policies on what you can and cannot have on your desk or on your walls; have you set up a work space that is comfortable and inviting? You spend a lot of time in your work environment, why shouldn’t it be as pleasing to you as possible. When you sit at your desk and work, does your work space help you feel relaxed and able to face the challenges of the day or is it stressing you out? If it is stressing you out, take some time and make the necessary corrections. You don’t want your work space to drain your energy and distract you; you want it to support you.

If you work in a shared environment take a moment and look at the people around you. Some of them have really inviting spaces. They have jars of cookies or licorice or toys in their area. They probably enjoy having people come in for a piece of licorice or to use the mini etch-a-sketch for stress relief. Some of them have many family pictures and some of them have pictures of their dogs. I hope you work in an environment where you can express some degree of individuality in your surroundings.

Not only does your environment tell people about you, it can also define your mood and set the tone for your work habits and your work successes. Take the time to create a space that is right for you.