I love my job – there are such a wide range of workplaces that I visit as I go about my business. Sometimes it may be a modern state- of- the art office, recently moved into by an organisation delighted in finding a comfortable new premises; other times it might be a newly set-up home- based office, which come in all shapes and sizes – one I went to recently was a lovely self-contained cabin in someone’s garden. Set apart from the home itself, it was easy to get to (no traffic jams!), had been thoughtfully designed and provided a great work space with plenty of storage space and good lighting.
Last week was one of those particularly interesting weeks for me. On a gloriously sunny, calm autumn day, with the snow covered Southern Alps in the background, I found myself going to see one of the air traffic control staff in what must be the workplace with the ultimate view – the control tower at Christchurch’s international airport.
On another day I was talking to a group of enthusiastic architects in a prominent architectural firm in Christchurch about how to keep healthy at work and what it requires to have a healthy workplace. Surely this is something we want all designers of areas that we work in to consider when designing the building itself? It was a great opportunity.
A visit to a concrete making company was another highlight. When there’s a lot of construction work going on in your city – as there will be in a post-quake rebuild – there tends to be high demand for concrete. This particular company has experienced a huge growth in demand over the past four years and with that demand, the organisational and office-based work has also grown.
With drivers needing to be kept up to date with the various delivery times and locations,the continual stream of incoming orders, associated planning and ensuing ultimate delivery, the office space just wasn’t working too well for the people having to deal with it all. To help make their life less stressful, I was there to identify and help them consider some options which would help reduce noise, dust, distractions and altogether make it a better place to be. Given the available space and the inevitably noisy work environment (think huge concrete making equipment working right outside your office window), this assignment needed some careful thought to ensure everyone felt a part of the change process.
I often smile to myself when talking to friends, acquaintances and associates about my work, because very often they think I only ever look at the way people are sitting at their desks. Of course that’s a hugely important part of my job, however, as you can see with this brief glimpse – there’s more to a workspace than tables and chairs, and no one workplace is ever really the same.
One thing that is consistent though is that wherever it is situated and whatever it produces or delivers, having a healthy workspace environment for the people that work there can make all the difference to its success. And making positive changes in a variety of different places is what for me, makes my job so interesting!