What does a nomadic workspace look like? A nomadic workspace is an office/work environment that provides employees with multiple places to accomplish their work besides their desk. It gives everyone the option to spend some parts of the day working at their desk, then move to a common sitting area, and maybe (if the weather is nice enough) go work on the benches right outside the office. Nomadic workspaces, or as they are commonly referred to, “open offices,” have quite an interesting history.
What is a nomadic workspace?
The term “nomadic workspace” originated from a conversation I had with Melissa on Episode 4 of SoGoWorkFromHome. Working from home has made me realize how often I need to switch up my work environment in order for me to stay as productive as possible. For example: this idea came to me when I was working upstairs, yet I’m writing this blog downstairs in my basement. And while COVID-19 has prevented me from returning to the office, I still had to constantly switch up where I worked in the office in order to stay engaged and working at my best.
Open office vs. nomadic workspace
Open office plans have been around for quite a while, and while the idea of an open office plan sounds exactly the same as a nomadic workspace, there is one significant difference. With an open office plan, there isn’t much flexibility when compared to a nomadic workspace. The nomadic workspace encourages and provides the freedom to work with others in a common workspace or to work alone.
Nomadic workspace areas have a feeling of a living room rather than a traditional workspace is a good place to start. Wall to wall cubicles shouldn’t be the only place people can accomplish everyday tasks. Individuals workspaces are still important, and as some people have written about, some individuals find open offices to be more distracting than productive. Consider addition by subtraction: Taking away some of the cubicle walls will encourage some team members to be more productive, whether that’s at an individual workspace or a commonly shared workspace.
Offices are expanding where people have the options to work: it’s no longer your own desk or a conference room. Now offices have sofas or desks all around the office, to be used for meetings or individual work. This flexibility and openness allows for employees to have free range of where they want to work. If you have the ability (and the internet connection!) to work outside, that can be a great place to get tasks accomplished as well. The flexibility of multiple workspaces for collaboration or individual work provide many different options to all employees, whether they would consider themselves workplace nomads or not.
Productive or distracting? Personal preference.
I am definitely more productive in a nomadic workspace. Luckily at the Sogolytics office, we have many different areas where we can work. Of course I have a desk where I do a solid amount of work, but there is also a tall table where I particularly like writing blogs. Or there’s a small booth-like area that is perfect for recording videos and podcasts (click here to check out our YouTube channel and here for our Spotify). Or if I just want a general change of scenery, I’ll sit at a small round table in the middle of the office. Having the pleasure and privilege to work in a space that allows for productive work to be done in many different areas is encourages me to be as productive as possible. Everyone wants to be on top of their game and deliver their best work, so having the options for nomadic workspace will lead to better results.
If you operate better at your own workspace rather than moving around the office frequently, that’s okay, too! Some people have pointed out how having collaborative and shared workspaces are more distracting rather than productive, and that’s completely fair. Having a nomadic workspace is all about flexibility, so if you choose to want to use a workspace other than your desk, go ahead and do it. An office should be a place where you can be comfortable and be productive. So if staying at your desk is what works best for you, do that! But if you’re like me and you like to be nomadic about where you work, see if there are places in or around your office that allows you to be your best and most productive version of yourself!
What will a nomadic workspace look like for your office? It all depends. Harvard Business Review talks about the pros and cons of open workspaces here, but only you know what works best for you!
Need to make plans for future furniture orders and floorplan flourishes? Time for a conversation with your team!