Happy work Humans Leadership Operations

Physical Environment + Productivity

Tracey Foulkes
Written by Tracey Foulkes

I’ve been on leave this week, quietly observing our team at play from the outskirts. It’s been good stepping outside of my day to day, I’d expected to read more, relax more, laugh more … instead I found myself in an interesting and unexpected mental space. I desperately wanted to feel happy … But I didn’t (we’ll not entirely).

First night away on our road trip was blissful. I’d booked us a spot at a lodge which delighted my senses. The attention to detail left me smiling broadly. It felt good. I felt good.

Night two, three and four found us in digs I can refer to as ‘clean’. Our hosts were kind and attentive but we felt confined to our room, closed in, claustrophobic even. While we spent most of our days outside of our accommodation it just didn’t feel fabulous coming ‘home’. I was in a stroppy mood, this impacted my day, my family and time. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I didn’t feel lekker and it impacted more than me.

And then we moved on to where I sit right now. My legs outstretched on a lounger bed next to the pool, sounds of birds singing beautifully in my ears, the warm winter sun kissing my cheeks and I’m struck by the realisation that your physical environment has such a marked impact on your mental well-being. Despite positive self talk, great company, good health … If you don’t feel comfortable where your head hits your pillow (or bum hits your seat) you’ll likely not be, act, feel optimal.

So thinking about work, and you and our environments around the globe I’m wondering how your physical environment impacts your output? Is there something small you can or should do to make your space feel better? Are you proud of your space? Does it reflect you at your core? Does it make you feel happy?

This might be a small thing … But I’m thinking it’s not. What do you think?


  • Nice topic. This is 100% me. I’m sometimes envious of people who are immune to their surroundings – they can work anywhere. I need the right space, the right energy and then I’m all systems go. I have adapted by making my workspace reflect me and wherever I go I have little strategies I employ to make me feel at ease and focused. One of them is Body Shop lavender oil – which instantly creates a feeling of wellbeing and another is a sharp pencil and a crisp notebook. I keep about 20 in my desk drawer 🙂

    • Deena, now 12 is exactly like you. We’d often walk into an environment and she’d say “this doesn’t feel right, can we leave” or something similar. I think I’m more adaptable most of the time. Have laptop, can work 🙂

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