How to Get the Most Out of Office Touchdown Workspaces

With the increase in flexible work locations, mastering a shared work spot is a must

A shared workspace

With roughly two years of experience with hybrid work, Stinnett has figured out what works best for his days in touchdown spaces. With his help, and that of a few fellow hybrid workers, check out a few tips for using touchdown spots.

Plug and Play

Beth Nichols works on-site for parts of her week. Photo courtesy of Duke Population Health Sciences.

Prior to the pandemic, Beth Nichols’ cubicle in the Imperial Building in downtown Durham featured plenty of photos of her children, pen-filled soup cans her kids decorated and a desk calculator she’d used for many years.

After the pandemic forced her Duke Population Health Sciences team to work remotely, Nichols, the team’s administrative manager, took everything home, leaving the workspace bare. Now her old cubicle has been transformed into a shared workspace, and Nichols uses it about once every two weeks.

While it no longer has her personal style to it, Nichols makes sure to bring things along which make her feel at home when she works there.

“I sort of semi-personalize the space,” Nichols said.

While many hybrid colleagues bring the essentials such as a laptop, other items might help you get through the day more efficiently.

In addition to her laptop, Nichols brings along the calculator and the soup can filled with pens. And some days, she’ll write quick inspirational messages on sticky notes to place around the cubicle, giving her small boosts of inspiration throughout the day.

“It makes me feel at home,” Nichols said. “It brings me back to a semi-normal work environment. Previously, I would have had pictures with kids or things like that, but now I’ve at least got a little bit of stuff in there.”

Remember, the Workspace is Shared

Kirk Rouser, a senior manager of identity management with Duke OIT, enjoys opportunities to work on campus alongside his colleagues. Photo by Stephen Schramm.

Kirk Rouser, senior manager of identity management for Duke OIT, comes to work at the Power House Building on most Tuesdays and Thursdays. While he tries to fill his on-site days with in-person meetings, he spends plenty of time working in a cubicle that he reserves in advance of coming to campus.

He also tries to be considerate of colleagues working alongside him and will find a quiet room for times when he needs to make a phone call or participate in a virtual meeting.

He also realizes that the cubicle will likely be used by someone else the next day, so he takes smalls steps – such as cleaning off the work surface, making sure the monitor, phone and keyboard are put back the way they were before, and even sometimes leaving a small bit of candy, such as M&M’s, for the next person to enjoy –  to ensure colleagues have a nice, clean environment when it’s their turn to work there.

“I try not to eat at the shared desk,” Rouser said. “That was something I did before all the time, but since this is a shared desk, I try to avoid it completely. And if I move stuff, I try to put it back the same way it was before I leave.”

Get Face Time

Drew Stinnett, a senior IT analyst with Duke OIT, works on campus twice a week. Photo courtesy of Drew Stinnett.

For Duke OIT’s Drew Stinnett, a prime benefit of working on-site at the Power House Building is the opportunity to be social. Stinnett devotes remote workdays – Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays – to tasks that require long stretches of undivided attention.

On Mondays and Thursdays, when he’s on-site, he makes sure to take the opportunity to chat with colleagues face-to-face.

“It doesn’t seem super productive, at least for my working style, to go to a different place and then sit quietly at a desk for eight hours and then come home,” Stinnett said. “I like that communal feel with people talking and laughing and walking around. That seems to be the sweet spot is for me. You can go in and actually see people and get ideas from folks.”

Stinnett enjoys reserving cubicles that give him the opportunity to encounter people from other parts of OIT so he can talk with them and hear about what they’re working on. He said he has always valued the exchange of ideas that come in an office environment.

While his days in the office look different now, by being intentional about interacting with colleagues, he can still get small doses of that collaborative energy.

“It’s good to keep an ear out for sparks of innovation or curiosity,” Stinnett said. “We’re not around everybody like we were before. It’s really nice when you are around people, so take advantage of it.”

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