Are you stifling your team’s productivity?

You are an informed leader. You read the latest articles in Fast Company and Harvard Business Review and you stay up on the latest trends in creating a culture of productivity.

There’s just one problem. They can’t all be right.

Think about all of the trends in office design: private offices with windows; open office design; private work stations; collaborative spaces, unassigned work stations, glass walls, low walls, no walls, standing desks, bean bag chairs in conference rooms….the list goes on.

All of that doesn’t matter. Unless it matters to your team.

Your team is made up of individuals with varying work styles and needs. A one size fits all approach to office design isn’t going to keep everyone productive.

Though you may crave that creative and collaborative energy that your company had when it was just 4 of you around a table in someone’s garage or kitchen, you can’t recreate that feeling. You can’t because there are more factors than furniture at play.

The key to setting your team up for productivity success is freedom. The freedom to choose where to work. Freedom and flexibility to choose the right environment for the task at hand. That means flexibility in you as a leader.

Many of us struggle to move from managing by line of sight to leading by enabling.

Question. What if you could work anywhere? Where would it be?

Think about your own work habits. There are times when you need to have quiet and focus and other times you want to be amongst the hustle and bustle of the office. Your team needs that freedom too.

This freedom and flexibility is what anywhereWorking and anywhereLeading is all about.

Examine your assumptions.

Often we are still following those ‘line of sight’ management assumptions. Do you really need to see your team for them to be productive?

What about anywhereWorking? What do you picture when I say ‘anywhere worker? Do you see someone at your local coffee shop with a laptop, and cell phone camped out in the best table for hours at a time? Or maybe someone sitting at home on their sofa wearing sweats and watching TV while sending emails or on a conference call.

These assumptions could be true, but chances are they are true less often than not.

Have you ever thought that an anywhereWORKER may still be at the office?

Anywhere working really does mean – anywhere.

Several years ago when I first began exploring anywhereWork I took an assignment with an organization that had very traditional work spaces. There were private offices with doors on the perimeter of the building (every office had a window) and the inside space was filled with cubicles. Since I was not a regular employee, I was give the first open space available. It just happened to be a cubical right outside the CLO’s office.

At first it was nice to have people stop by, introduce themselves, and as me questions.  However, I soon realized that I was in a high traffic area and what I had mistaken for friendliness was everyone’s assumption that I was the new assistant for the senior leaders. Not a productive environment for me.

Although I wanted to be in the office so that I could meet with people and interview them in person (part of my consulting role), I needed an environment that allowed me to think, analyze, and focus – so I moved.

I set myself up in the cafeteria in a location that was designed for collaboration and team discussions. It had much less traffic, but was still accessible and provided opportunities to collaborate with my team on a daily basis. For this project, it was ideal. That is anywhereWorking.

Anywhere working works because we allow our team members to identify and locate the best possible situation for them to do their best. They can work anywhere because we give the the freedom to do so.

Freedom and autonomy to make the right choice about the most productive environment for the individual.

If you are resisting the idea of giving your team freedom and autonomy, it may be your own assumptions that is stifling their productivity.

Start with understanding what motivates you and your ideal work configuration. Then get to know your team, individually, to find out their preferences.

Just because open work spaces are a trend doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.

If I’ve learned anything in my more than 25 years of business it’s that every individual is unique and that uniqueness extends to finding our ideal working environment for the task at hand.