Create space that makes you happy
President and Founder, izzydesign
Are you happy? The Positive Psychology course taught by Professor Tal Ben-Shahar at Harvard University teaches students how to be happy, and is so powerful that students say it literally changed their lives.
When I was in school, the key to success, or happiness, was viewed by my generation in terms of materialistic things. It was all about your job, your income and the size of your house. That’s what drove the baby boomers. But today, building long-term, meaningful relationships is the foundation to our quality of life. The challenge is integrating those fundamentals – the things that are most important to our happiness and quality of life – into all aspects of our lives, from home to work.
In the business world right now, overwhelming issues are quietly bubbling under the surface: the tremendous impact of living in a low-cost, China-centric world; rising healthcare costs; and significant generational change with millions of aging, retiring baby boomers.
With radical change going on underneath the surface, you aren’t going to do business the same way today as we have in the past. What can we do to make the transition to the future and survive the journey? It’s not simple. But it’s all about people. The most fundamental issue to our happiness is having people we care about and who care about us.
How do our happiness and quality of life factor into space planning? We need to build creative places in the workplace that enhance our spirits. We must allow people to collaborate with and trust one another. Looking at something as simple as space planning, we realize how it can profoundly affect our quality of life. We can build work space that supports and encourages communication and collaboration between people.
Does your work environment reinforce meaning and purpose for you? Are you able to share ideas, to gain knowledge from other people in an open, collaborative way? I like to use the analogy of a campsite: a welcoming place that draws people together. Likewise, your office needs to be a comfortable place that promotes learning and gets to the heart of diversity in the broadest sense. You deserve the right to share your ideas with people. Our responsibility is to encourage and listen to your feedback.
Technology makes communication easier. But as Good to Great author Jim Collins says, life gets so much better when we just talk to each other. It’s not about, “I’ll meet you next Tuesday at 10 at conference room B on the 3rd floor.” We need spaces for spontaneous conversations that shift your focus to creativity, growth and risk-taking. When people begin to enjoy their work, they take more ownership, efficiency increases, and companies absolutely thrive when their people thrive.
To be happy, we need environments that are flexible, that allow for personalization and encourage us to explore ideas together and use our imaginations. Collaboration is more than a process; it is a way of life.