A look at how the design of your office space can influence what Cal Newport calls “deep work” – taking focus and productivity to the next level.
For every business owner and entrepreneur out there, the “Million Dollar Question” is always going to be how to ensure that your staff work as efficiently and harmoniously as possible, at any given moment.
The author and academic Cal Newport has an interesting thought on that subject. His idea is that the key to quality work isn’t so much the number of hours spent grinding away, as the amount of time doing what he calls “deep work.”
Here are a few ways in which the design features of your office itself can be set up to facilitate “deep work.”
Set up co-working common areas, alongside isolated “nodes”
Deep work is, according to Newport, something that can only really be done in the absence of all distractions – and he counts interactions with other people, checking email, and other such common office activities, as “distractions.”
In fact, Newport cites convincing research evidence that even just checking your phone or email for a few seconds can ruin your ability to really “focus” for as much as half an hour afterwards.
Clearly, the modern office trend of co-working spaces and shared offices may not be great for deep work, for this reason. And yet (and Newport admits this, too) there are certain benefits to co-working spaces. They seem to be good at generating raw ideas, specifically.
One suggestion for getting the best of both worlds, that comes straight from Newport’s book, is to have a working environment which features optional co-working common areas, but which also features isolated “node” office or cubicle spaces, where people can withdraw to really hammer out projects, solo.
Ensure that all furniture and fixtures are as simple, streamlined, and easy-to-clean as possible
There’s a reason why commercial flooring, of the type that is typically found in offices and restaurant kitchens, isn’t the same as the kind of luxurious flooring you’re likely to find in a plush up-market home.
Everything outside of actual “work” should barely register in your employee’s conscious awareness. It should all largely take care of itself.
Prioritise a naturally healthy working environment
Believe it or not, but there is research showing that patients in hospital rooms recover faster when they can see a tree from their window.
Engagement with the natural world seems to be incredibly important for overall health. But, a naturally healthy working environment doesn’t have to be a mini-forest. Such an environment can, in fact, be established simply by focusing on air-quality, good lighting, and so on.
Stale air can lead to Sick Building Syndrome, and a lack of sufficient lighting can cause mood and circadian rhythm disorders among your staff. Install a HEPA air filter, strong artificial lights, and plenty of windows, in order to provide the best possible environment for your employees to work “deeply” in.