How your workspace affects you and your work, by our American in London, Jessica Turner

‘Yes this is actually me deep in thought in Green Park’

What affect does where you work have on how well you work?  On her last day with us, Jessica Turner, our American intern, reflects on her unique London experience of flexible work-space. We thank Jessica for her hard work and wish her well with continued studies at Washington  University in St Louis.

I remember the first time I stepped on my university campus. I had already visited so many other schools but none of them stood out to me. It was the feeling I got when I stepped on the campus and how they welcomed me as one of them that influenced me to go there. It was the first time I actually got excited about going to college. However, the beautiful campus that once sparked so much emotion slowly dulls out after three years of late night studying and stressful weeks.

Whether it’s at work or school, our everyday lives can distract us from seeing what’s all around us. We forget how it impacts our thoughts or sparks innovation, which is exactly why we cannot overlook it.

My day started off with a client meeting; however being very early forced me to turn a coffee shop into an office space as I got ready.

Surprisingly, 80% of the UK has worked from a “coffice” at one point while 13% of the UK works there daily. It has been the location where £14.5 billion deals are made yearly. (1)

Many people find themselves more productive from a coffee shop – which research might have an explanation for.

The average sound-level at a coffee shop is 70db, which is the sound level that causes the most productivity. Additionally, the constantly changing environment has been shown to boost innovation, creativity and productivity as well. (2)

As the meeting time approached, I made my way to the company’s business. There was such a strong contrast between old and new in Soho on my journey. The old Soho was filled with color and liveliness but was dulled down by the modern skyscrapers. As I entered the newer building, the vibrant culture of Soho was swallowed up by cold, emotionless shades of grey. I grew intimidated by the success dripping off the building.

I had felt a drastic alter in my emotion from excited to uneasy in the matter of seconds, which was not coincidental. This typical office color has been shown to stimulate emotions like sadness, depression and lack of confidence. So when this color is featured throughout your office, it can have some pretty negative effects.

However, when we reached the floor our business was on my emotions changed once again. The elevator opened up to a floor of color, large windows and open space, which eased my nerves.

By adding more windows, companies can decrease absenteeism by 15% and increase sleep by 46 minutes each night per employee. In a 2011 study, daylight and view quality explain 6.5% of sickness-absence . (3)

The office space of the business continues to optimize productivity through the open floor plan, which a government study shows it promotes collaboration and creativity. The study also found that after a 50m separation, the probability of interactions between individuals substantially decrease.

However, informal conversations make up 80% of the most valuable interactions for a business. An open office can limit visual obstructions between employees, which results in a 14 times higher probability of conversation. (4)

I could see the impact the office design had on the business from the buzzing community it had created.  The office became a collaborative place that they all shared instead of just owning their individual cubicles.

After the meeting, we head in the direction of Green Park. On our way, we pass through a reinvented hotel in Soho that was buzzing with excitement. There were people drafting up emails, getting lunch with friends and working out a business deal over a few appetizers. The way remote workers transform the space to fit their needs left me awestruck. Being just the start of my career, this was the first time I truly noticed how the workplace has become more modern.

If you are not regularly exposed to it, you may forget flexible working exists but it’s more common than you would think. In fact, OddsMonkey predicts that by 2020 half of the UK population would be working remotely as more companies uncover the hidden benefits from flexible working. OddsMonkey found that working remotely can increase productivity by 16%.

It was in Green Park (two minutes’ walk from Buckingham Palace!) where I noticed the most drastic change in mood. There were people all around us, yet it felt quiet and calm. The color green dominates the environment everywhere you look. Color once again influences my emotions. As shown by my reaction, green has been correlated to reduce stress as well as making you feel in harmony or balanced.

Spring also can represent rebirth as nature sprouts all around my final office space. As discussion of our client meeting turn into long-term visions, the irony kicks in. We are so afraid of starting over and going against the status quo even after watching nature do it every single year. However, we seem to forget that just like a tree growing new leaves, you are not starting over. You still have your sturdy trunk that has grown and shaped by experience. We must join spring in shedding our old leaves and sprouting new ones.

Working from places like Green Park or, as we did on another day, the Members’ Room at The British Museum, has given me the most unique preview of different work-lives before I properly started my career. My adventures as an American in London through the various 21st century office spaces remind me how impactful your location can be.


Works Cited

1. Heritage, Fred. Coffee shop economy booms as more and more workers shun offices. Business Advice. [Online] Business Advice, July 3, 2017. [Cited: May 8, 2018.]
2. spaceoasis. Why do so many people use coffee shops as an office? spaceoasis. [Online] spaceoasis, June 21, 2017. [Cited: May 8, 2018.]
3. UKGBC. Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices. UKGBC. [Online] UKGBC, September 21, 2017. [Cited: May 8, 2018.]
4. CABE. The impact of office design on business performance. [Online] CABE, May 2005. [Cited: May 8, 2018.]