The Office Community

How to find your ideal space for focus, collaboration or creativity.

Where should you go? That depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

If you want to promote collaboration, work at home.

If you and your team need to connect and collaborate, a home — or, if that’s logistically difficult, a warmer, cozier space that invites relaxation — might be your ideal setting for a brainstorming session. Conversations flow better when you’re lounging on sofas or grabbing slices of pizza over a kitchen counter.

If you need to focus, work in an isolated space.

Working in an environment that feels like home might relax you, but in some cases, what you really need is to persevere without distractions. That’s when an isolated space can set you up to succeed. If your workplace isn’t set up for that, make do with what you have — find a conference room for those stretches when you really need to put your head down, or ask if you can work from home to meet a pressing deadline.

If you need to spark creativity, hit the road.

While isolated spaces can help you generate output, they don’t always inspire new ideas. For that, try taking a field trip.

There’s evidence that “perceived spatial distance ” from a task can spark creativity, but you don’t necessarily need to travel a long distance to view a problem from a whole different lens. If you want chaos and excitement, you could spend a weekend in a bustling city, or you could just visit a bus terminal. If you want to learn about a different culture, you might start with a new cuisine, or visit a new neighborhood. As Scott Barry Kaufman, the director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Imagination Institute and author of Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, once explained: “Unusual experiences are good for the brain.”

The next time you feel overwhelmed by a never-ending to-do list, or confused by the purpose of your project, or frustrated that your team is hitting a roadblock, consider the power of your environment. Sometimes, to unlock your best work, you simply need a change in scenery.

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