Saturday, January 10, 2009

Interior Design: Virtually Speaking

I'm sitting at my desk in Attic World. In front of me is a large computer screen, speakers, wireless keyboard, lamp, some reference books, and a clutter of papers. On a desk extension to my left is the rest of my desktop, and a combined fax/copier/scanner. The room is full of books, more piles of papers, and filing cabinets (the piles of papers should be in the filing cabinets, but they're not). This - you could say - is my virtual workplace; the place in which I work virtually with others around the world. It's not too bad as far as Attic Worlds go, although a coat of paint and an intense cleaning wouldn't hurt.

The fact is, however, this room isn't really my virtual workplace at all. Actually, I rarely use the term 'workplace' any more prefering instead to talk about my virtual 'workspace'. That workspace only comes into existence when I interact with colleagues via the technologies available to me. It is constructed everytime I interact with them collectively or individually, and is deconstructed when the interaction ends - although, very importantly, the spirit of that space can linger and even influence future virtual workspaces.

Here's one way to think about our virtual workspaces - mindsets are the rooms we work in and move between, communications are the windows, and behaviors are the furnishings.

Ideally, the rooms will be light and well-ventilated, and stimulating to the senses. The windows should be crystal clear,and enable you to see what you want and need to see. And the furnishings should be both comfortable and flexible. Something to think about when you next interact with your virtual colleagues. We are all designers of our virtual workspaces.


will.hulbert said...

Terry. So many reasons to leave the corporate physical environment not keast to help increase productivity. Great blog, keep up the good work.

will.hulbert said...

Terry. So many reasons to extrictae yourself from the corporate environment - not least for reasons of proctivity. Great blog - keep up the good work.

Steven Parkinson said...

Terry, I also work primarily from a home office. One thing I have noticed is that while I am working I completely block out my immediate physical surroundings. My attention is entirely focused on my virtual tools - computer screen and telephone. For those of us working virtually I think time is sometimes better spent enhancing those key tools (eg configuration of computer screen, email account settings, telephone programming, access to intranets and internet sites that enhance our performance) than on physical environment comfy chair, fresh flowers, pictures etc.)

Martyn said...

Have to agree with Steven - I have never been in the slightest way concerned about the physical environment. As long as the laptop is clean and uncluttered, and I have some relaxing music through the headphones, that is all I need. Good blog - I shall keep an eye on this one :)

Kai said...

Taking it to the 3rd level strongly echos with my understanding. whilst I agree that may be the physical work environment is less important once your digital / virtual space is clean and well configured - all important points- you still may need to have a nice physical and digital space to trigger the most important realm: The mental state you are in to meet with your virtual team, it necessitates an uncluttered mind. Open to connect with your virtual team members, and that necessitates a permanent ability, step back, to mentally dominate your petty thoughts and troubles, projecting the best of your intentions, no quick judgments but always second guessing your reactions before sending out any rash comment or actions to be sure that you do not entangle yourself in communication techno- cultural misunderstanding mix ups. This work is on the inside, it signifies that you have to get a strong hold on your mind and to dominate your mind, to watch your conditioning all the time.