We are very lucky to work in a picturesque part of Lower Hutt, alongside a stream and surrounded by lots of trees and gardens. Our gardening club grows vegetables for the Lower Hutt Food Bank. There are flower beds both on site and in the streets around us. It has been particularly beautiful during spring as we saw the emergence of spring blossoms popping up after a long, wet winter. Recently, we have had visitors of the feathered variety wander through our grounds and quack their hellos.
Our team has taken to having walking meetings every day or so. They involve a ten minute walk around the block and along the riverside when we feel the need for some fresh air, a change of scenery, or a quick break to stop and think or talk about something we’re working on. Despite how luxurious they sound, walking meetings work wonders; we achieve heaps! I firmly believe that productivity is not necessarily synonymous with the number of hours spent sitting at a desk in front of a computer. Apart from the physical benefits of exercise and fresh air, they are a great way to touch base and connect with team members on a less formal basis. We discuss almost everything, sound each other out for ideas, come up with suggestions, and arrive back at our desks knowing we’ve either a) solved the problems of our world, b) discovered what needs to be done to solve the problems in our world, or c) found renewed energy to go about a) and b). It’s a very refreshing approach.
Ewan McIntosh’s blog post about variable learning spaces comes to mind when I think about our walking meetings. Often, a change of perspective or the flow of creativity can be stimulated by a change of scenery. Google, MIT, HP and several other large multinationals recognise the value of providing differentiated work spaces. Areas for staff to interact informally or as part of their work are both attractive and available. Whether or not this includes a pool table or foosball table is irrelevant; an informal workspace can be as simple as a couple of comfy couches and a whiteboard. I’ve certainly seen this work successfully at my former workplace headquarters, CORE Education in Christchurch.