The design of the office has changed dramatically over the years. Closed off spaces are a thing of a past, open-plan areas are a thing of the present, but a mix of the two is the design of the future. Collaboration is the word of the year in the office design world and the key to creating collaborative workplaces is to create an office space that has no barriers, but also has the privacy of traditional floorplans.
This doesn’t necessarily mean re-imagining your office space, especially if you don’t have the budget, but simply adapting what you currently have to spruce up the interior.
Office overcrowding can be a big hindrance to a collaborative workplace, so one way to overcome this challenge is by creating department neighbourhoods. Your office should be seen simply as a communication tool and Pentland identified three dimensions to successful communication. One of these is engagement, interacting with your social group, so by setting up groups of desks you can easily encourage collaborative working between team members.
Sitting at a desk all day doesn’t nurture innovation and certainly prevents collaboration between different social groups, so one way to overcome this hurdle is create collisions. By strategically placing break out spaces in your workplace you will improve employee mobility, which in turn creates more collisions, which leads to positive outcomes. It also blends the element of traditional office design by incorporating privacy into the layout.
Every setting should be planned to include tools that inspire collaborative working. Consider where staff may need to plug in electrical devices, whether the internet can be accessed, whether there are interactive spaces and if there are pens, paper, bluetac to hand to maximise any opportunities there may be for collaboration.
By making these simple changes to your environment you will see an improvement in workplace collaboration through the simple step of creating an increased number of accidental interactions.
Finding the balance between the buzz and silence can be a difficult task, but it’s vital when it comes to greater workplace collaboration. As you encourage group ‘We’ spaces, you need to be mindful of enclosed ‘I’ spaces for employees to make conference calls or engage in focused work, and these often go hand in hand with break-out spaces.
Ensuring natural daylight can flow through the office can have a direct impact on how people collaborate. Research indicates that better workplace lighting has a positive impact on employee’s well-being, which in turn has a positive impact on workplace collaboration. In areas where light is restricted, consider using glass to maximise what you do have or install a mixture of different artificial lighting to support different office spaces.
Many companies focus on office lighting and acoustics and stop there, but a lack of visual stimulation can prevent workplace collaboration. Elements such as using natural materials like wood to break up areas, placing plants and flowers around the office and introducing a variety of textures and colours to different spaces can increase employee productivity and encourage a collaborative working environment.
For help or advice on how you can improve workplace collaboration then get in contact with us today.