Can we sit? Maybe not.
At first it was an annoyance.
It has become a pet peeve.
I am out and about a great deal with the work I do, for I am often out of my office and in the workplaces of those I am teaching and coaching. As I go about the doing of what I do, I find I am having more and more of a challenge with simply finding a place to sit.
Workplaces have become way, way too space-efficient for my liking. Beyond my own preferences, I also think that if you don’t have ample gathering space where people can collect informally to talk story, or sit and work on their own within brief changes of scenery, you are missing out on a huge opportunity for more creative collaboration.
And collaboration can be done with both people and with place.
No wonder I drink so much coffee!
1. Smart Business Capture
At first I was annoyed within those times I fill between my appointments, often stopping to find a Starbucks-like coffeehouse, or a bookstore with a CafÃ©, for what I’m hunting for is a tabletop of some kind: Park benches aren’t great for the writing I will inevitably do. Many times I’ll find a CafÃ©, all too willing to shell out some cash for the ticket rights of official patronage, but there never seems to be enough seating.
It may very well be that the success of Starbucks has a little to do with coffee, but mostly is about what they call creating a third place for us. Smart, smart people… fulfill a need, grab some business as you do so.
Draw yourself this picture of possibility:
2. Manifesting Possibility
Next time you pass a Borders Bookstore or Barnes & Noble, take a look at their CafÃ©s: 9 times out of 10 there won’t be an empty table, and the people you see aren’t just reading, they are working.
Now imagine all those people with these conversation bubbles over their heads, whether they are alone or with someone else – do you see the wealth of creative and collaborative possibility?
That’s what you could have if you created a place to sit and talk and work in your workplace that is not an office, not a cubicle, and not a conference room with all their normal connotation baggage.
No more flavor of the month training – I get it now!
3. Consultant (and Peer) Intimidation Begone
Selfishly for me, but this is also for you, you could have a place where visitors like me could sit and talk story with your staff after we’re done with the appointment or class part of what we originally came for.
We become more approachable, what we brought for you is more accessible, and you get much more out of us absolutely free because you have made it easy for us to give it to you. Chances are we won’t feel you are taking advantage of us, for we’re there anyway, and we’re comfortable.
Your people would ask us the questions they ask when they have the opportunity to catch us one on one; important questions they hesitated to ask for some reason when we allocated time for Q&A within our sessions, and were met by the dead silence of "No way, I’m not asking this in front of everyone else."
It happens a lot… you’d be amazed how long some of my goodbyes take in your parking lot. Imagine if we actually planned better for it.
So how about it? Give us a place to sit?
thinking red, green and black on Flickr by jmsmytaste
- For more on the place connection, you may also want to read: Managing with Aloha and Sense of Place.
- This one is related to #3: How to Capture an Expert’s Value: 12 Tips.