#10: Leave no trace

How a National Parks System campaign inspired our work space tidiness strategy

national parks.jpeg

Here at Civilla, we are a bunch of space nerds — and not the intergalactic kind.

We believe that our work space is a key enabler of our culture. When designed well it feels light, functional, and magical–while encouraging us to arrive as our full selves.

Unfortunately, keeping an uncluttered space in a shared work environment can be difficult. Perhaps you know the feeling: people are busy and forget to pick up after themselves. Papers pile up, supplies get left out, items get misplaced, work surfaces don’t get cleaned. The result–left unchecked–is chaos.

When looking for inspiration to help guide our work space tidiness strategy, I soon discovered the National Park Service’s Leave No Trace (LNT) campaign — a set of outdoor principles designed to promote the conservation of our national parks.

The LNT principles are simple and easy to understand. They can be applied by anyone, anywhere, at anytime. This revelation led me (the least outdoorsy person you’ll ever meet) to call a company-wide meeting to talk about the preservation of the great outdoors–and our work space.

Here are six of the LNT principles we’ve adopted to help us tidy up and take care of our work space:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare

    On any given day, dozens of visitors walk in and out of our doors for tours, workshops, and meetings. To manage the chaos, we have set up a team calendar that helps us manage our space, plan ahead, and support each other in setting up and tearing down.

  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces

    Our work space is very open and flexible. This means that wherever we choose to “camp” for the day is visible to everyone. We use this principle as a reminder to be intentional about where we work and to keep our “campsites” tidy.

  3. Respect wildlife

    At Civilla, our team’s work is visual and often lives in the the “wild” on post-its, whiteboards, walls, and paper. This principle encourages us to respect each other’s work when we need to move or displace it. If we need to reset a work space or a zero-out a whiteboard, we take a picture of the content before clearing it.

  4. Dispose of waste properly

    We use a lot of materials in our work, and we carry a responsibility for disposing of them properly. At the end of the day, items that can be reused are saved. Waste is sorted properly between trash and recycling. This principle reminds us that we all are accountable for minimizing our impact on our work space and the planet.

  5. Be considerate of other visitors

    We love hosting guests at Civilla, and everyone on the team is responsible for stewarding the quality of their visit. While our studio is often filled with music and an abundance of laughter, this principle reminds us to be considerate of others and adjust our actions (and volume!) when needed.

  6. Leave what you find

    Our work space is stocked with bins full of supplies such as Post-Its™, Sharpies™, and scissors so that people have what they need to do their best work. This principle is a helpful reminder to each teammate to leave what they find and refrain from walking away with supplies. Otherwise, materials won’t be there when someone else needs them.

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Maintaining the magic of our work space requires more than fairy dust. These simple rules help us treat Civilla like a national park–leaving it better than we found it.

By treating our space with respect, we believe that we can build an environment that supports our mission, rather than distracts us from it. We hope these principles inspire you to do the same.

— Gaby + the team



Adam Selzer