Notes from a shed

Over recent months there has been plenty of movement going on in HR communications and consultancy; Established names getting acquired, up and comers heading to bigger and better offices.  If you fit in to either of those groups, can I take this opportunity to wish you well with your new homes and families.

As something of a lone wolf in the attraction world, I have worked from myriad places over the years – from the vast, open plan spaces of corporate offices to the intimacy of the local library (if ever stuck at Kings Cross, the British Library at Euston is especially good).  I’ve even held client conversations on ski lifts before now (as the latest thinking goes, work’s not where you go, it’s what you do apparently). Like many of you reading this though, there are times when I have needed to work from home. Even with a dedicated office space in the house this can be difficult.

Filled with distractions, the house presents multiple opportunities for procrastination.  And then there’s the noise – whilst overjoyed that my younger child recently landed the much coveted role of Eponine in the school production of Les Miserables, it was only possible to overhear the prodigious little darling banging out ‘On my Own’ at full volume so many times before I too craved solitude.

Towards the end of 2015 I embarked on Project Shed – an opportunity to claim my own work space. A place in which I could fully focus on work in an environment of almost monastic peace and serenity. A little woodland wonder in the back yard for the price of a year in a serviced office and the most productive space I’ve ever had.  Here’s why:

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  1. It’s totally isolated. I can’t hear anyone else and they can’t hear me. No distractions, no excuses.
  2. And that extends to visual distraction too. With just 8×6 feet of floor space, everything has to be kept ruthlessly tidy and efficient or chaos ensues very quickly.
  3. I don’t want to leave it. Wander in to a freezing house in the day or enjoy a balmy 24 degrees in Scandinavian surroundings?  No competition.
  4. The work-space is optimised for efficiency. The chair, desk and monitors are ergonomically ideal. Meanwhile, the terrific Focus at Will browser plugin renders procrastination web sites inaccessible. Anything other than research and report writing is out the window.
  5. Working in an isolated space fosters a mindset bordering on the anthropological – lack of external activity separates the mind from many cultural influences around you. Not detached though – the internet is a wonderful place for learning. If my peers out there don’t think I’m paying attention to their online musings in all forms they’d be wrong (although all that millennial click-bait? Really?).  And of course, it’s not like I never speak to anyone. Nevertheless, isolation creates the freedom to be utterly task-centric when that’s what the situation demands.

Obviously a cabin in North Yorkshire has its downsides, especially in this London-based industry of ours, but in terms of productivity the outcome is clear – if you want to get ahead, get a shed.

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