What moving offices 4 times in one year taught me about happiness
It may seem like a trivial subject but considering many of us spend more waken hours at work than we do at home, the office, and how we feel about it, is a hugely important factor in our general wellbeing. Work tasks and job roles aside, how we experience our office environment can hugely change how we feel about going to work, our productivity and ultimately our happiness.
During the past year I have worked for two fast growing start ups and this usually means being on the move to cater for an increasing workforce. Having moved office four times I have found it remarkable how much the different spaces affected me, especially since my tasks remained broadly the same. Let me tell you my story and what it has taught me about work happiness.
Office 1 — Leased Office
My first office of the year was in a central location and within walking distance to many great lunch places and bars. However, it certainly wasn’t in the middle of it all. Whilst at the time I might have wished it was, it meant that I always took a lunch break. Being fairly lazy with bringing food with me from home, I did a brisk 10 minute walk every day to a cafe of my choice. This break, even if short, helped me not only reach my 10,000 steps a day target, but I found it made me much more productive in the afternoon (compared to eating at my desk).
The problem with this office was the lack of space. It felt crammed, loud and busy, and did not have a sense of the very human company values. There were too few toilets and it was too hot in the summer. This caused everyone to be frustrated and even though we were practically on top of each other, it didn’t help building a strong sense of team work and togetherness.
Office 2 — Serviced Office
As the company grew further, 30 of us were temporarily placed in a newly launched, modern serviced office fifteen minutes from the HQ. This was a 6 month solution until the business had been able to acquire a bigger space for us all to be in. None of us complained — this was a dream come true.
We had all the facilities possible — free coffee, tea, fruit, breakfast — even beer! The office was highly designed and completely new with hi tech lifts and meeting rooms. There were also private pods available as well as plenty of break out space. We were ecstatic. Going to work in this office was a pleasure, and as it was only 30 of us sharing this experience, we grew closer and communication improved.
I found myself dressing up more for work, staying longer hours, and spending more time with the team.
Office 3 — Custom built lease
The business finally acquired a huge, gorgeous office space over three floors and decorated it with fantastic art work, in the most sought after area of London. We were relived, this was just as great as the serviced office we had just left. But there was one issue — the size. In order to be able to grow there were plenty of empty desks all over the office which left a strange feeling, like we were working in an unfinished space. I realised how important the right amount of space was — too small and you feel cramped, too big and you feel like you’re working in a building site. (By the time I left most desks had filled up, making this office a fantastic space).
Office 4 — Shared Office
Being through this journey and realising my strong interest in interior design and architecture, I joined Hubble — a web service helping businesses find their perfect office. This has let me geek out properly on my office obsession. Hubble shares an office with 2 other similar sized companies, in a prime location of London’s creative innovation hub. Working in a shared office has been a great experience, not only is the office decked out in cool and inspirational art and objects, but the sharing has created a friendly and relaxed environment where everyone thrives. We are all start ups and can share our experiences and knowledge, as well as a well deserved beer at the end of the week.
I think we often forget to evaluate our environments and the huge impact they can have on our happiness (or even dress sense in my case!). We all value different things, but it’s important to be aware that a move or even small changes to your work environment can have a significant effect on how you feel and work!