Once upon a time, offices were set up so that every employee had a three-walled cubicle separating them from their peers. Though this was an effort to encourage heads-down work, that old school design restricted employees’ ability to collaborate with their co-workers.
In today’s business world, collaboration is key to the success of both individual employees and the company at large. Not only do co-working spaces allow for enhanced teamwork, but they also facilitate chance meetings and off-topic chats that can snowball into new business relationships and innovative ideas.
Companies such as Pinterest, Slack and Lululemon heavily embrace creative flex spaces to maximize their teams’ overall efficiency. With an emphasis on inclusivity and openness, there’s no doubt that these factors have facilitated the great success they’ve seen.
Optimizing the collaborative potential of your office can be achieved in a number of ways. First, it is a good idea to invest in specific tools that will help to improve productivity, creativity and (you guessed it) communication. The next step though is to reconsider your office’s layout. From multi-purpose work spaces to community tables, there are a number of different ways facility managers can promote a connected work culture—and it can be easier than you think.
In many offices, it’s still quite common to house each department in separate parts of the building. While this may promote creativity within teams, it prevents deeper communication on a company-wide level.
FMs should bring opposing teams together, allowing them to quickly share ideas and solutions. Spreading teams out can create a kind of echo chamber, so bringing them together can result in numerous voices being amplified, cultivating a more creative office by mixing and matching departments.
Communal lounge areas, which are usually furnished with comfortable couches and other cutting edge interior items, provide employees a place to rest, relax and communicate. While these spaces will serve as a kind of salvation from the daily grind, they also provide a place for employees to come together and problem solve in a more relaxed environment. Open lounge areas and any other communal spaces can be used as a casual space to work. As such, FMs should assess their floor plans and find areas that they can repurpose into cross-functional work spaces.
Community tables are another fantastic way to promote collaboration, as they make it possible to accommodate a large group of people in a small space. FMs will find that these tables work best in wide open spaces, but don’t be afraid to install them close to the kitchen or any other busy area. Even if team members tend to eat at these community tables, it will provide a place for them to socialize and communicate. As the old saying goes: “If you build it, they will come.”
Advancements in technology and changes in corporate culture have given rise to numerous global office trends, and one in particular is on its way up—hot desking. With hot desking, workers take whatever desk is available, rather than having a permanently assigned seat. Besides the economic benefit, this allows employees to work near others who they might not otherwise see, promoting idea sharing and teamwork. If your company is still weighing the pros and cons of opening its doors to hot desking, ask yourself these important questions.
Without a doubt, investing in these kinds of creative flex spaces will increase an employee’s opportunities for collaboration. Consulting your peers and brainstorming projects can lead to the cultivation of innovative ideas that might not manifest if employees are left to work alone.
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