Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 21, 2011 3:49 PM

Winning Workplaces

Isn't is amazing how a work environment affects both productivity and general health?

As someone who loves the work that I do, I often struggle when people moan and complain about their work environment. From the chairs they sit on to the desks they sit at, to the structure of the physical environment to the physical location of the building. It goes on to the types of phones that are used and the pens that are provided to write with. It seems like many people feel trapped by the physical aspects of their workplace when - deep down - it's actually the things that happen between the ears that matters most.

Remove the workplace from the work.

Ever since ultraportable laptops became available on the market (in the early 1990s), I always used my own money (even when I had an employer) to buy one of these laptops. I wanted a machine that was as light and as portable as possible (sidebar: I use the MacBook Air now and it is - without question - the best computer I have ever owned). My reasoning for always buying my own computer - and it always having to be as light and as portable as possible - was two-fold:

  1. Anywhere is a workplace. While the concept of virtual offices and working out of the local Starbucks has now become somewhat commonplace, it wasn't back then. I wanted to create a work environment that relied as little as possible on where I physically was. I extend this thinking to all of my messaging as well. When I send an email, I remove all messaging like, "Sent from my iPhone," etc... By removing the need to have a permanent or pre-determined space that is assigned to me for work, I tend to focus on the really important stuff: actually getting the work done. Too much focus on the furniture or stuff to hang on a wall or put on a desk is simply a distraction.
  2. My own allowance. I remember seeing Jeffrey Gitomer speak when I was much younger and he went on a rant about how a sales rep couldn't do his job because his boss would not buy him the software or the computer that he wanted. Gitomer's response? "You're a big boy now and you don't need your daddy to give you an allowance! Use your own money!" Meaning: buy it yourself. If you're successful, the small upfront investment will be meaningless. It's true. I didn't need my employers back then to buy the tools that would make me successful. I was more than capable of doing that myself.

Change everything.  

I'm sure many people will read this and think: "sure, it's easy for him to say...". We do have very nice offices at Twist Image, and I'm hopeful that we have a work environment that is conducive to creativity and creating great results, but (the truth is) I can do without it. I can't do without my MacBook Air or my iPhone, but I'm fine working from anywhere to everywhere so long as I'm surrounded by the right team and the right clients. I see a lot of beautiful work spaces in magazines like Dwell, and while it might inspire me to do more great work, I've spent the bulk of my professional life trying to be much more minimalistic (and less materialistic) about my needs, and focusing on what truly matters most: creating a great and winning workplace in my mind.

What do the most winning workplaces look like for you?

By Mitch Joel