My generation of New Yorkers tends to have less and less regard for where we do what we do. Work from your tiny apartment coffee table? Great. Squats and push-ups in your bedroom-gym hybrid space? No problem. Spontaneous photo shoot in the middle of the street? Cool. Business calls in the middle of Starbucks? Hear ‘em all the time. In our incremental transfer to the digital world, it’s easy to forget how powerful a physical place can be.
Let’s not discount the tangible world we live in. Where you do what you do makes a big difference. We make particular places for improving our bodies, expanding our minds, sharing our faith, relaxing, healing ourselves, even certain spots for smoking cigars and having a drink (whatever your preference). Think back to your high school, middle school, or elementary school. Just revisiting them in your mind might call smells, faces, sounds, full-blown memories to the tip of your brain. What about your first big injury? Or heartbreak? If you revisited the place where those happened, I bet you’d experience those feelings all over again. The power of a courthouse is palpable. You know when you enter it that what gets decided here will change your life for years to come.
We vacation to particular spots for a reason, even if we can’t articulate it. Certain cities have the reputation for being tourist destinations, for the activities that happen there or just the atmosphere. Going to a party island beach is different than heading to a city famous for its museums and historical architecture. Either way, you also know what you’re getting yourself into. Often, people return to the same spots each year. For some reason, your body associates that physical place with whatever activity you do there.
We call our people together for holidays. Plenty of people go back to their alma mater for homecoming or the family m/patriarch’s home for holidays. It just wouldn’t be the same if you went on vacation for a holiday. Or if you did, someone would be sure to set up something just like you always did at home. Grandma’s cookies with the little decorations on them have to be there. It’s like having a little piece of it right there with you, even if you’re far away.
We’ve got specific places for work. Gathering in an office to take on different tasks, accomplishing the same mission can be powerful. Sure, it can be a lot more difficult to focus on your tasks for the day when there are others there to distract you, but they’re also there to bounce ideas off of when you’ve hit a wall. There are also people physically there to keep you accountable for doing the work you’ve said you’ll do. It can be tougher getting people fired up about a common assignment when they’re working from afar. It can feel like they’re not doing any work when you can’t see them doing it. Since you can’t see them work, go to lunch with them, and create silly office culture together, do they even exist? On the other side, being a telecommuter can feel like being a one-person army - you don’t know what headway you’re making when you’re working all on your own. Is anyone else is doing the work to support yours? If you’ve got self-discipline, it does mean you can get a lot done in a day; there’s no one but you (and those ridiculously addictive reddit memes) to interrupt your work.
Physical places have power. No matter how deep we dive into the digital dimensions we create, we’ll still need well-designed, task-specific spaces to do what we do. It’s one of the beautiful things about being human - part of us exists in the physical.
Written by Corey Loftus
Founder / Visionary : constantly quotable
Corey is a voiceover artist, yogi, and father to a fur-child named Eddy.
He'll work for almond butter.