Open Office

Structure Matters. How Is Your Structure?

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn't show." - Andrew Wyeth

I love talking to new gardeners. They are so enthusiastic and have a lot of questions that I can generally answer. I was talking with a  friend this week and she just bought an old farm house that she wants to start a new garden in this spring. She's already frustrated because she doesn't know where to start and feels completely overwhelmed. My advice for her was to start with structure. Start with the structure and everything else will fall into place.

I always look at my garden in the dead of winter before the jungle growth begins in the spring. I can see what shrubs or trees need trimming or to be moved and what elements that I need to change. These are some pics of my garden and it helps me in the spring when I want to add plants or other structures. It also helps me in pruning my trees because I can easily see which branches are encroaching on healthy branches or if there are weak areas. Pictures really do say a thousand words.

Only the best garden designers can start with a blank space and design a complete garden with every plant picked out with perfection and in the right spot. They also use sophisticated software that most of us don't have access to. My advice to my friend was to look at her existing garden and examine the structure. Winter is a perfect time to do this because you can see what the garden looks like in it's sparsest form. Decide what looks good and what plants that you want to keep. See if some shrubs or trees are overgrown, scraggly, or too close to each other.

Once spring hits and the snow is gone, look at the space again. Add a bench or two. Put in a birdbath or some pots. Look at the structure again. Is everything symmetrical? Are the elements that you added "right" through your eyes? The beauty of adding these elements is that they break up a space and make it easier for your eyes and brain to connect and see what looks right. Once you have the garden area "divided" by your trees, shrubs, benches, or other structures then pick a segmented area and start to plant.

 Decide on what plants that you want in that space depending on the light and soil requirements. Buy the plants and put them in. Don't worry about having everything perfect. Gardening is meant to be fun and enjoyable. It's about doing what you want, not what others will think. I guarantee that you can't go wrong with this approach. By focusing on one area you will make better decisions because you won't be overwhelmed. It will look and feel "right" to you. It's also a lot cheaper to garden section by section and taking your time. Try it. I think that you  will love gardening by looking at your structure first.

"Science may never come up with a better office communication system than the coffee break" - Earl Wilson

The economic news keeps getting better and that's great news for job seekers. I was meeting with a friend earlier this week and she expressed her frustration with finding quality job applicants. She said that there are 1.7 jobs for every applicant in our area. Great news for people like me that the tide has changed. From a hiring standpoint, employers are going to need to work a bit harder in attracting talent going forward.

What I have found over the years, on both sides of the hiring table, is that too often applicants place money as their top priority in looking for a new spot. Bad idea folks. Studies have shown time after time that additional money only keeps the glow going for about 6 months. After that a whole lot of other factors come into play. These factors are different for everyone but include vacation, health insurance, educational opportunities, promotions, healthy living benefits, work friends, culture...the list is endless.

Like our gardens, we need to have the right "structure" or framework in place in order to have an impact in our jobs. If we don't have the "right" structure then our other wants aren't going to mean a hill of beans. I personally feel that culture is the #1 most important key factor in the success of a company's associates. I have immersed myself in learning about different company cultures and have personally lived in several, good and bad. The culture of a company impacts so many areas of a business and can literally mean the life or death of a successful organization. That's a tale for another time because the #2 factor for many of us should be structure.

Structure can mean many things in a business. It can refer to the organizational chart which is critical to some. It can be the size of offices, their location, their proximity to certain areas. I am referring to the open plan or closed office spaces within a company. Think about it. How many of you are introverts but are in an open office plan? I bet that it can really stress you out and drive you nuts because you can't focus. Not being able to focus can have a huge impact on how well you perform in your job. On the flip side, a lot of extroverts go absolutely crazy in a quiet closed office environment. The office can feel like a padded room and extroverts want no part of that! When looking at making a change in your life where you work and the structure in place really can be a deal breaker. Do you know your preference? Have you wondered why you are unsettled at work at times?  Have you really thought enough about it ? (Introverts have.....).

I have always worked in a closed office environment with my own office but quite a bit of activity within my area. Whenever I have visited our corporate offices and there was deep silence,  I became unnerved. Yup. I'm an extrovert (well, technically an ambivert but that's another story). Right now I work in an open office environment. No one has an office, even our CEO. I love it. There is always noise, conversations, and activity going on. I'm very effective at blocking out sounds (a Mommy trait) so the noise is soothing. The down side is of course, everyone hears everything! The introverts that I work with go nuts. They struggle to keep focused and hate being "exposed". At times it hinders their work and they resort to reserving a conference room in order to actually get work done. Introverts definitely understand what I'm referring to! If you know that you need quiet, or vise versa, to perform your best don't you think that you should take a hard look at your structure? Lack of the right structure will hinder your growth just as it does in a garden.

Only you can decide what kind of structure that you need. Where is the best spot for you to be planted within a company to perform best? If you are struggling at work with concentrating in a closed or open environment can you do anything to change it? If you are looking to make a new career move and need the right environment, one of your key questions needs to be how the company space is organized and configured. Are there places where you can go to work that will be conducive to working more effectively? For me, that may mean working from time to time near a lunchroom or busy conference area if I need some noise. I have a close friend that would curl up and whimper in a noisy area. You need to know yourself and know how you can be at the top of your game. Perhaps it's time to look a bit closer at what you can tweak in your work space to nudge you to success.

So. How IS your structure working for you?

Photo courtesy of Sektorfuenf via Compfight

Photo courtesy of theledge80- via Compfight