Hurrah for WorkNooks
Updated: May 17
I wrote this book on this shelf (I'm holding a template of it). It took me two years and a bump on the head, but I did it.
It was never an easy workspace. If I shoved my chair back without thinking I hit my partner's desk and disrupted his work. If I stood up without thinking I banged my head on the bookshelves above. My feet froze to the floor half an hour after I sat down and I wore fingerless gloves to counteract the Northumberland gale blowing through the cracks in the adjoining window.
Getting out of my seat and out of this teeny tiny room involved a sidelong wiggle and a few long strides to get over the (neatly) arranged boxes aligning the wall and the plug and socket tangle at the end of it.
Confidential phone calls were always a pain with one or the other of us having to do the ritual twist and writhe in and out of our open-plan cubby-hole but somehow we managed; we just worked with it. We lived in a charming two up, two down, so we had no choice.
What doesn't nearly kill you as you trip over it on the way to and from work only makes you stronger and more determined. I learned a lot about own-working in adversity and remember my old writing hole with untinted glasses. I made a template of my shelf before I left to remind me of what I'd managed to do there despite the constrictions.
Now I work in heaven. A whole room of my own. Not large or perfect but more than a shelf and no longer a boxroom. It's an office, my own home office. I count my blessings each time I sit down to work and when I'm feeling ungrateful, get out out the old template and have a look at it.
I have always been interested in the people-place relationship and have subsequently gone on to do my own research into Sociospacial Reciprocity, which looks at the way we interact with our microsystems. Nowadays I use Place Therapy in my own wellbeing practice and help others to improve their people-place relationship, especially in the workplace.
Ordinary people can be extraordinarily resilient and produce wonderful work in the most trying conditions. I've met people who home-work or trade from the attic, the cellar, garage, shed, tented cabin, under the stairs, a space on the landing, corner of the kitchen table, top of the ironing board - even the car can be used for short term respite. Known as work nooks, they've simply made the best of what's available to them and got on with it. It's in all of us to do the same, we're stronger than we think.
Jane Anderson PhD specialises in Sociospacial Reciprocity and Place Therapy. She's been working in wellbeing for nigh on 30 years and is especially interested in the people-place relationship and how it underpins all other aspects of staff engagement and wellbeing. Her Staff Wellbeing Framework Model is now charter-marked for quality assurance. www.jcaconsult.co.uk