Work Traits


Place is especially helpful in design, architecture, consulting, public relations, social media, and some aspects of leadership.
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What is a focus on place?

With a high focus on place, you care deeply about both your physical and conceptual environment. In your physical environment, you pay close attention to the location of your office, as well as other characteristics—such as the placement of furniture and your proximity to windows.

On a conceptual level, you’re keenly aware of changes in context and how those impact your status or place within your environment, such as your industry, community, or network. 

You’re in tune with how an environment feels, paying sensitive attention to the flow of energy or the vibe that the configuration or placement of things can create. On your team, you’re often seen as organized, pedantic, and sometimes even perfectionistic.

We call it: Place

Your level of interest in where you are personally located in your work; physically in geography and also conceptually in society or an organization.

It’s just a theory really, but I have always thought that your physical surroundings can shape your voice and personality.

K.D. Lang

Leaders who focus on place

Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright cared deeply about place and location, something that obviously came through in his designs.

His entire approach and philosophy was to make his constructed projects blend in with the nature that surrounded them—which was often no easy feat. He was said to be a perfectionist and designed each and every building for its unique environment. 

“Organic architecture seeks superior sense of use and a finer sense of comfort, expressed in organic simplicity,” he was quoted as saying.

Anna Wintour

As a force of nature in the world of fashion, Vogue’s Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour, obviously has polished surroundings at work.

In a video interview with Vogue, she offered a rare peek inside of her corner office at One World Trade Center in New York City. Her space features fresh flowers and immaculate furniture.

But, the aspect of her office she’s most proud of is her collection of Clarice Cliff ceramics. Having those special items displayed in her space shows that Wintour cares deeply about the physical environment she works in.

Anna Wintour
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General Douglas MacArther

General Douglas MacArther is a five-star general who cared more about his place on a conceptual level than he did about physical surroundings. His rank and prestige in relation to others carried a lot of importance.

“He loved the trappings of power and stayed eternally vigilant to the micro-nuances of publicity,” wrote Hampton Sides in a piece for Time.

The benefits of a focus on place

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Your focus on your place means you’re able to create a work environment that’s most conducive to your working style.

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Because you understand hierarchy and how you relate to others in your organization, you’re able to communicate successfully with people—whether they’re above or below you.

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Your strong attention to your surroundings means you’re highly attuned to any interruptions in your environment. You’re the first to notice if something is rearranged.

The blind spots of a focus on place

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When you care so much about your surroundings, you can be somewhat rigid about the environments where you’re able to get work done.

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Being so attuned to your environment means you can be somewhat easily distracted. Objects or furniture that are placed differently won’t go unnoticed by you.

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When you’re concerned with status, you might end up caring more about the prestige associated with a position than the work itself.

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How to increase your focus on place

1) Be aware of your ideal surroundings.

Pay close attention to environments where you feel productive, as well as environments where you feel unfocused. 

This will help you pick up on the energy of different areas, and build a work environment where you can do your best work.

2) Create a comfortable environment.

Make your desk a happy place by surrounding yourself with things that make you feel good—whether it’s a family photo or a desk plant.

Even small changes can make a big difference in terms of your mood and your perception of your surroundings.

3) Understand your organizational chart.

In terms of building a higher focus on place, you also need to understand your status and relation to others on your company’s organization chart.

Where are you now? Where do you want to be? Understanding that context is important for building your motivation for place on a more conceptual level.

4) Look for common themes.

When you identify places where you enjoy the environment and pick up positive energy from your surroundings, challenge yourself to determine what those spaces have in common.

Maybe you’ll realize that you like the hustle and bustle of an open office or coffee shop. Or perhaps you like plenty of natural light and to be near a window. Those are important factors to consider as you focus on your own place.

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