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3 Ways to Setup Your Headspace at Work: The Case of Entrepreneurial Co-working

Where you do your work impacts how you do your work, and entrepreneurs are no exception. In fact, workspaces are changing with new options to rebel against cubicles and make the workplace more efficient, creative, and productive. New isn't always better and for people with control over their workspace, it's important to make a well-informed choice.

The open, multi-use spaces of entrepreneurial co-working spaces, like HQ Raleigh and Spacecubed in Perth's CBD, are beautiful examples of how workers (entrepreneurs) can (and should) adjust their workspace and work design to get more done.

Pssst, here’s a secret about the tips below: they also apply to your workspace and your work design too. If you’re human, and you work in a space, read on.

1. Be Sense-able

The sounds (auditory), sights (vision), smells (olfactory), and feel (proprioception) of a space impact the behavior of you and others in a space, including entreprenerurial co-working spaces.

Need to be creative (e.g., what are some other low cost distribution options we haven’t considered)? Choose a space with higher ceilings.

Need a memory boost (e.g., what was the feedback from our practice pitch)? Bring the color red into your external visual field (i.e., your line of sight).

Need to get analytical and engage in critical thinking (e.g., what are some of the risks of our business model)? Lower ceilings, uninterrupted quiet time, and a not-positive mood can help you.

General take-away: Be aware of what each of your senses are taking in from your particular perspective in a particular workspace for a particular work task.

2. Keep it Natural

The Biophilia Hypothesis says that humans seek connection with nature and life forms more generally. Entrepreneurial co-working spaces have a chance to put this (empirically supported) idea into practice.

Want to maintain your health, well-being, and mind while you work (really, really long hours) getting your minimum viable product ready for your launch?

Then work in a space that has plants/greenery, outdoor vista(s), water feature(s), good air quality, plenty of natural daylight, and temperatures that mimic seasonal fluctuations. Our brains get active in neural structures associated with social interaction (superior temporal gyrus), semantic and analytical thinking (middle frontal gyrus), and memory retrieval (angular gyrus) under the cool white spectrum of light.

General take-away: Bring nature indoors or give yourself some green breaks like a walk in a park, a few minutes in the grassy area outside the office, or a clip of Planet Earth.

3. Maintain Control

If you don’t like the open environment of co-working spaces, you’re not alone. Nothing’s perfect and privacy, noisy interruptions, and visual or social distractions can totally mess up people’s work.

Why don’t open workspaces work sometimes?

Work design (the job demands resources model) would say that these open spaces mean more demands (e.g., now you have to remember to ask Rob how his Series A funding round went when you see him). So more demands, and sometimes there’s less autonomy. For example, when you work near the shared kitchen space, people think they can ask you questions whenever they’re nearby. There’s less control over interruptions. The job characteristics model would say you have less autonomy, but more social contact.

So, there are trade offs, and the key is to find spaces that fit the work. Need some social time? Then work on easy tasks by the kitchen area. Need to concentrate? Do it when few others are using the co-working spacs, use headphones to deter others, and best is to rent out private space in a designated quiet area.

General take-away: Know your work needs (based on work design) and make your workspace work for you.

Overall take-away: Adjust the workspace and the work design to fit you—not vice versa. You deserve work that fits you, and we’re here to help.

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