Working Offsite Boosts Creativity and Focus

Geographic Project, Barrie Eyre, Wikmedia Commons

We recommend that vacation time be a time to unplug, unwind and recharge. Taking work on a vacation does not help with any of those objectives. On the other hand, turning remote work into something enjoyable in a vacation-like environment never hurt anyone.

This is not to suggest that “workations” replace regular vacations. On the contrary, this is about doing the work you might normally do in your home office or at a co-working location on a beach, at a cottage, on your patio or even on a mountaintop.

Sometimes a change of scenery is just what’s needed to unleash your creativity. A new environment with fewer distractions (or at least different distractions!) can also energize you and boost your productivity. At the very least, it will shake up your routine and put a little spring in your step.

A Change is as Good as a Rest

When we follow the same routines and work in the same environment every day, whatever that environment may be, we can get stuck in a rut. In fact, many of our daily habits, good and bad, are triggered by environmental cues.[1] Choosing to work in a different location for a while is a great way to break those habits and emerge from that rut.

There’s just one way to radically change your behavior: radically change your environment.

—Dr. B.J. Fogg, Director of Stanford Persuasive Lab

You take this idea one step further when you choose a new environment that also refreshes and invigorates you. Today our choice of working location is typically limited only by available internet access—in other words, not very limited at all. So why not make a change of venue truly stimulating?

New Environment = New Ideas

Historically, some of the world’s greatest minds have understood that retreating to a less work-like environment makes the brain work differently and opens up avenues of thought that might otherwise remain closed. For example, early in his career, when he was still struggling to find a cure for polio, Jonas Salk retreated to Umbria, Italy, to the monastery at the Basilica of Assisi. Salk would insist, for the rest of his life, that something about the Basilica—the design and the environment in which he found himself—helped to clear his obstructed mind, inspiring the solution that led to his famous polio vaccine.[2]

Basilica of St. Francis of Assissi by Aaron Logan, Wikimedia Commons

A desire to better understand the profound impact that physical space can have on people has led to the exploration of neuroscience for architecture. As a result, many architects now incorporate biophilic design principles into their work to create environments that better meet the physiological and psychological needs of the people who live and work in them.

Great minds, architects and the writers of proverbs agree “a change is as good as a rest,” —that changing your environment can change the way you think. So the next time you’re struggling to make headway on an important project or come up against a mental roadblock that needs a new perspective, try taking your work on the road. Identify a place that speaks to your soul and immerse yourself in it for a week or two. Like Salk, you (and everyone around you) may be surprised and delighted by what you can produce.


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