Erin Coupe is a real estate executive and guest columnist for Catalyst. This article originally appeared on Coupe’s LinkedIn.
I consider myself fortunate. One of the advantages of the career I have built is that, for the most part, I can choose where I work. I don’t mean choosing to work at a company like Goldman Sachs or CBRE because of the credentials on my resume. I’m talking about something we have gained increasing influence over with changes in technology and design. It’s the space where we work. And it is even more important to our day-to day-productivity than the company you work for.
If you’re anything like me—sensitive to the energy that surrounds you—the space you work in deeply affects your feelings and emotions. We don’t often think about work as a sensory experience, but it is. The physical space around us can evoke emotions like enthusiasm, relief, tension or anxiety, all based on the way it looks, smells, sounds and feels.
I remember the first five to ten years of my career when workspaces were based only on functionality. These were the days when corporate offices were a sea of private offices and 5-foot tall cubes. Working in commercial real estate and formerly architecture, I’ve had a front row seat as workplaces have evolved to be based on experience. This is true whether it’s an office, restaurant, hotel, coffee shop or retail store. More and more, innovative leaders, designers and architects are catering to our basic human need to feel good.
What exactly is the secret sauce? It’s all about ambiance—“the character and atmosphere of a place.” The colors and elements, furniture, lighting (both natural and artificial), ease of flow within the space and the way I am treated from the welcome to the service all matter to me. Anyone who works closely with me knows that my mantra is “experience is everything!”
That said, the space around you is about more than feeling good. It’s about feeling free to be your best, most creative, authentic self. When I meet a new client, prospect or mentee, I’m actually curating the experience of that person meeting me. If we meet in a space that’s comfortable and beautiful, rather than stiff and conservative (think fluorescent lighting), I find both of us can be more open and authentic. In my career, this is a key aspect to forging meaningful relationships, which is what my business is built on.
Where you work is so much more than a physical space between four walls. It’s a sensory experience; a conduit for emotion that when tapped enables you to do your best work. Think about the last project you crushed. Chances are, that great work was fueled by enthusiasm, positivity, and feeling of flow. You have more control over these feelings than you think—it starts with your environment.