I can’t put into words how good it is after 20 years of working as a Graphic Designer to truly discover what kind of working environment I need around me to thrive. That might seem like an obvious statement to make. After all there are a few common factors that I think most people would agree have to be in place for a person to have a successful day at work. But assuming you work in a place where you are free to express your creativity, and be yourself without fear of judgement, then you could be in a position to start fine-tuning/experimenting with your working environment, and achieve a working utopia (or something close to what we perceive that to be).
Over the years I’ve worked in several design studios in different roles, and for the last 9 years I’ve worked from home. Sure it’s great to reduce my daily commute, which involved walking out of one room and into another, which is especially good when you can walk into the kitchen to make a cup of tea without having to make another 15 for your colleagues. You don’t have to think too hard about what to wear that day or if you have odd socks on, you know that kind of thing. But working from home doesn’t afford you the time to ‘defrag’ all of the events of the day, as you would on the commute, before you walk through the door at home. I’ve often made the mistake allowing my thoughts to wonder when it should be family time.
The other problem with working from home is that as a working parent school holidays can be challenging, and post school run every day can be hard to find the head space to work if next door the next galactic battle of the century is taking place between an army of noisy plastic warriors, or if my boys are having their hourly argument over who can jump over our family home. Over the years I’ve struggled to work in a noisy environment, and it took a little experience of working in different places and a slightly more mature look at my work-life balance to appreciate this. I’ve discovered that I’m the kind of person that needs to work with music on in the background. Not my favourite Foo Fighter, Fun Lovin’ Criminals tracks, but something with no lyrics like a film soundtrack.I know that seems really nerdy but it’s true. Hearing people sing or people talking is a huge distraction for me. So I’ve also discovered that as much as I love to listen to podcasts or an endless supply of TEDTalks, I can’t. A large part of my work involves writing lessons and instructional texts for the books we produce. It’s crucial that I can think about crafting simple instructions, and noise prevents those words getting from my head-space and onto the page.
So after a great deal of cost and about three months of planning, which naturally involved going onto Pinterest and picking out my favourite colours, styles and a theme for the studio, I finally sat down for my first day’s on 22nd October 2016. I haven’t looked back. I can leave home in the morning, walk my kids to school, chat with them about their day and what they are looking forward to and then once I’ve dropped them off I can walk to the studio a mile away, get some fresh air and feel revitalised. To me that really is the best possible start to the working day.
Not only do I work here on a daily basis but I also run training courses at the studio. A large part of my work involves teaching people how to use Photoshop, Illustrator and Adobe InDesign. So the space I have to work with needs to be flexible and presentable. Every inch of space has been utilised to store my clutter out of the way when needed, and the cupboard doubles as a recording studio, well really a booth, for my online training courses. Over the last year I’ve managed to make time to add artwork to the walls and keep making this space my own. I love working with people, and the trill of evolving a brief in collaboration with others gives me a real buzz, just as long as I can push those pixels and kern a few pairs in my own space, and in isolation.