Blurring the Lines Between Work, Workplace, and Workspace

by Paradigm Associates LLC

Workplaces and Workspaces

When we hear the word work, we know that it refers to any activity involving mental or physical effort intended to achieve a purpose or result. In most cases, we associate the word work with our job. In the last year, the concept of work has become more challenging because both the workplace and workspace have changed, upsetting the balance in our lives.

To be clear, here is the difference is between workplace and workspace. A workplace is a physical location or building where you show up for work -typically five days a week for most of us. It is a space where you meet co-workers, discuss projects or challenges, conduct meetings, and get items done. For the most part, workplaces are fixed locations where employees gather to work under the same roof.

A workspace, however, is a distinct space where a person does their work. It can be an office, cubicle, desk, table, or even front seat of a car. The workplace is for the collective, and the workspace is for the individual.

Inherently people mentally assign their job to a workplace and personal activities to their homes. In the last year or so, our associations with work have become upended. Before the pandemic, workplaces and workspaces held a connection to certain habits and routines. By removing both the workplace and the workspace, what was once routine has been dismantled.

The transition of apartments and homes into workplaces and workspaces can blur the separation between professional and personal lives. Many people working remotely no longer even speak of going to work. There is no longer a distinction between work, workplace, and workspace.

For some, the time savings gained by not commuting to work has been the gift that keeps getting better and better. For others, this disruption remains distracting and impacts their ability to get work done. For those in this latter group, increased stress, sleep disruption, and perhaps decreased job performance can result.

We expect employers to reach decisions and designate positions as anchors - back in the workplace locations full time; flex - back in the workplace some days or times; and remote - working away from the workplace all the time.

I wonder how often the human factor will be given equal weight to the financial considerations when reaching these staffing conclusions.