Last October, I promised to rethink how my office was being used. The old set-up worked well when I was there, but I realized that was only about 2% of the time; nearly all of my teaching, research, writing, and meetings happen elsewhere. Inspired by Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft’s wonderful book Make Space: How to set the stage for creative collaboration, our research group rethought how we could make better use of the space.
Here is what has happened so far…
My original vision was that every single time I went to my updated office it would be filled with groups of students having lively discussions about grand challenges and enduring questions. This hasn’t quite happened yet, but the space is being used about three times as much as it was before for things like small group meetings, individual brainstorming, relaxing, drinking coffee, and eating snacks1. So, we have improved the space utilization rate and left plenty of room to do even better.
For me, the best results of this experiment have been unexpected ones. Rethinking my office led me to explore new places for my various work activities. I now schedule most of my meetings at the downtown coffee shop, which is more convenient for most students, faculty, and me. Plus it has a fireplace, porch, and cookies.
For writing, I found a spot within walking distance where I could obey my natural instincts to work outdoors during hot summer afternoons thanks to the (relatively) cool breeze off the lake.
In the meantime, I’m still thinking about the best ways to get even more use out of the office that came with my job2. I’ll keep you posted.