How can your office benefit from neighborhood-based workspaces?
When officials deem it safe to return to physical spaces, change may come in the form of how we work as well as bring new meaning to what the office represents.
There will undoubtedly be changes of all kinds for office employees in particular. Currently, more employees may be remote than ever before, but when the time comes to discover our new normal in offices, new workspace concepts like office neighborhoods can create a better workplace for all.
There are several benefits of office neighborhoods, such as increased productivity, collaboration, and flexibility, to name a few. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the biggest ways your company can make the most of office neighborhoods once employees are back in the physical office.
What are office neighborhoods?
Office neighborhoods are areas of an office dedicated to specific departments or functions. In other words, office neighborhoods are to your office space as neighborhoods are to cities.
In many ways, office neighborhoods are a hybrid of the two most popular office layouts—the open concept floor plan and the traditional cube style. Although office neighborhoods mostly resemble the open concept floor plan, there’s one big difference.
Office neighborhoods are typically organized into “communities” of people who have similar jobs or work together more than other departments. Instead of being assigned a desk, employees become members of groups. This supports impactful ways to work while enhancing collaboration and boosting productivity. While this does put people with similar work functions in the same space, physical distancing protocols can still be followed with strategic desk placement.
This office layout strategy uses urban physics—an engineering discipline offered at universities like MIT and NYU. It’s used to see how city systems interact with each other and those who live in them to discover trends, opportunities, problems, and more. Using urban physics to determine how best to design your office neighborhoods ensures you’re creating the optimal work environment for your employees based on their personalities, job functions, work styles, and more.
Successful office neighborhoods will be customized to fit employee needs. In addition to “department” spaces, incorporating both collaborative and quiet areas that allow employees to work where they feel most comfortable and productive is the crux of what makes office neighborhoods a viable option. Combining spaces built for more focused work with areas designed for big brainstorm sessions and team-based activities make for an office environment fit for every employee, no matter their work style.
Some of the most significant benefits of office neighborhoods include:
- Boosting productivity
- Inspiring collaboration
- Saving space
- Providing flexibility and customization
- Increasing employee happiness
Each of these benefits plays a significant role in creating a positive employee experience—one that not only empowers employees to do their best work but one that makes happy employees.
Let’s take a look at each of these benefits in a bit more detail.
Providing flexible spaces where people can both work in groups or on their own paves the way for a boost in productivity. If employees have space to work in a way that is best for them, they’re bound to thrive.
In fact, the average employee spends about two hours per day recovering from interruptions. If there’s a dedicated, interruption-free space, employees can get more done without the distraction.
With office neighborhoods, employees aren’t “forced” to work in an environment that is counterproductive for them. Instead, they can work in a way that suits them best.
Because of the dedicated spaces of an office neighborhood, employees can be more collaborative. Collaboration leads to excellent things like company innovation, increased revenue, and an improved employee experience.
With 86% of employees and company leaders citing a lack of collaboration being a top reason for workplace failures and 97% say a lack of collaboration impacts the results of a project, businesses can’t afford not to make this a priority.
Creating a workplace where collaboration is a primary component of day-to-day operations can be the difference between company-wide success and disappointment. With office neighborhoods, collaboration is built-in to the equation.
Office space is expensive. In the US, the average cost of office space per square foot is between $8-$23, which adds up, especially if you’re a large company. Plus, with the recent shift to remote work, companies are quickly learning that more space isn’t always better.
For companies looking to make cuts on real estate without compromising on the office environment, office neighborhoods may be a great solution. With office neighborhoods, you don’t have to worry about having dedicated offices for every employee (or member of the leadership team) and, therefore, can save a ton on real estate costs.
Providing flexibility and customization
A major factor that contributes to not only employee productivity, but employee happiness, is autonomy. A report from Zenefits found that 73% of employees said that flexible work arrangements increased their satisfaction at work. Allowing employees to not only take ownership of their roles but to customize their workspace to their liking, can have a significant impact on their happiness at work.
If an employee wants to collaborate with their team for a few hours, then retreat to a quiet workspace to knock out the rest of their to-do list, creating an environment in which they can do that can make all the difference. Office neighborhoods offer employees flexibility and customization in their workspace.
Increasing employee happiness
These benefits, collectively, contribute to overall employee happiness. If your employees are productive, able to work together better, and can take ownership of their role, it’s safe to say you’re on the right track to having happy employees.
Happy employees thrive; author, researcher, and teacher of positive psychology, Shawn Achor, found that happy employees are 19% more accurate when working on tasks than unhappy employees. Therefore, to create a successful, growing business, employee happiness should be a focal point.
How can companies make office neighborhoods work for them?
Now, we’ve covered the benefits of office neighborhoods, but how can employers transition their workspaces?
Revamping your office environment may sound like a big undertaking, but the truth is, there are several ways to approach implementation.
These companies are making office neighborhoods work for their unique company cultures:
- Google: Google used urban physics when planning its Chicago office, which resulted in designing a room that mimics that of a speakeasy. This space promotes creativity and connection for Google employees.
- Groupon: Like Google, Groupon created a conference room that defies the traditional meeting space. A tiki-inspired conference room offers an “escape” for employees while fostering fresh ideas.
- Uber: The tech giant took a different approach when planning their headquarters. Uber decided to adopt smaller neighborhood areas that each have access to shared support and community spaces.
Now, if tiki huts and speakeasy-inspired rooms sound a little outside your company culture, don’t stress. There’s no one “right way” to create your office neighborhood. That’s the thing about them—office neighborhoods are meant to embody what works best for your company and your employees, not what’s trendy.
To add, here are a few best practices for companies who are considering office neighborhoods:
- Map your company: Evaluate your employee departments and figure out what makes sense in terms of where employees should sit and where collaboration and quiet spaces should be.
- Communicate all changes: Explain the purpose of the transition and make yourself available to employees who have questions or concerns.
- Use the right tools: Technology is on your side when it comes to a change like this. Be sure to choose the right technology that will help ensure a smooth transition. Office planning software can help you determine the right neighborhood map for your company while helping your employees learn the new layout.
Office neighborhoods are rooted in your unique company culture
Office neighborhoods are a great way to build a positive workplace environment. They are an excellent solution to unproductive offices because they are designed to fit your company’s unique needs.
With so many office layout trends, it’s tempting to hop on board to “compete” with others. But at the end of the day, if your employees aren’t productive or happy, that will cost you—no matter if you’re working in an office or remotely.
Curious about how office planning software can help your company? Contact us today, and our team will walk you through our platform.
Photo Credits: Pexels, Julia M Cameron, Andrea Piacquadio, Pixabay