Because Iím a writer, people often ask me how I work best. Like where do I like to work? Do I need a hermetically sealed, windowless room without any distractions to crank out pages? Do I work out of my house or in an office or at a donut shop? Do I write everything longhand or shorthand or use a tablet or do I type everything on my Uncle Miltonís vintage Remington typewriter?

All excellent and very valid questions, which of course got me thinking about how uniquely we all work, even though we may do the same job thousands of other people do.

I mean, are you the type of person who can only focus from 9 to 5, in a cubicle, sipping out of your ďIs-It-Friday-yet?Ē mug, and wearing something business casual? Or are you someone who works best late at night, in your feety pajamas, talking on your headset to someone in Hong Kong while folding laundry? The range is broad.

And what I find so fascinating is that there are plenty of working professionals out there who absolutely have to be in an office environment to be productive. Canít do their job any other way. And not because their job necessarily requires them to be in an actual building with walls and doors and ergonomically beneficial chairs, but because they themselves just canít perform well any other way. For them, working from home represents too many distractions, too many temptations, not enough structure or discipline or distance from day-to-day life at home. Plus, no watercooler.

Yet there are others out there, doing the exact same job who could never swing it working in an office. Take my husband Dave. Heís a super-disciplined and insanely productive guy who works almost exclusively out of his home office unless heís traveling. And heís done this ó and done it well ó for the better part of the last 18 years. But not everyone can.

Me, I prefer to work where there are other people around, which is exactly why I pack up my laptop bag most days and circulate from coffee shop to coffee shop. Give me a corner at a table in a bookstore or a cafe with Wi-Fi and thatís all I need. Believe it or not, too much quiet and seclusion actually stifles my creativity. And even though the job I do takes a certain amount of concentration, I enjoy the buzz of activity around me. I guess you could say I feed off of other peopleís energy. Plus, with other people always around, it gives me an outlet when my brain starts to cramp up and I need a healthy distraction.

Sure, I know that thereís a world of people ó like teachers and doctors and police and firefighters ó who donít have the ability to modify their jobs very much just because of the nature of what they do. I get that. Thatís why, here, my focus is on the other big chunk of people who do have some flexibility built into their job and how they handle that freedom. Because now, more than ever, the business world is redefining the definition of what the traditional work environment looks like. And all in the name of productivity.

Another interesting thing worth mentioning about the work environment we create for ourselves is the fact that some people (Iím pointing down the basement stairs right now at Dave), can function just fine in, shall we say, less-than-neat surroundings. While other people, like me, literally canít start working until my work space is perfectly organized. (Yes, Iím the anal retentive one.)

Now donít get me wrong, Daveís a pretty orderly guy, but heís just fine digging into his daily to-do list with stacks of business cards and papers all over his desk while the one thing I have to have is an organized space, wherever that space may be. And I know there are people in both camps who manage to get the job done in both kinds of environments. But the fact that most of us function well in such vastly different situations amazes me.

At this point, weíre living in a world where our options for being able to work productively are constantly changing and expanding and evolving. And all for the better. What the workday looks like now, as opposed to the way it looked only a half century ago, is like night and day. So the bottom line is, thereís really no excuse anymore for us not to do a good job at what we do since the professional world is rewriting the definition of what productivity looks like minute by minute. Because, eventually, more and more employers are likely to catch on that it doesnít matter if weíre doing our work in our tighty-whities or a three-piece suit, as long as weíre doing it well. We just need to remember to put our pants on before we hit the board room.

ó Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is and Untying Parent Anxiety: 18 Myths That Have You in KnotsóAnd How to Get Free available on and at select bookstores.