Your office space is more than just the physical address where employees gather, the mail carrier delivers the bills and the copier hums along. In fact, inside your office there is a microcosm of connection opportunities that either hamper or encourage group efforts and collaboration. You want to create a Collaborative Workspace to enhance employee engagement and productivity.
What prevents workers for putting their heads together, brainstorming and working on projects?
- Cubicles. Artificial space separators are designed to help individuals focus on their own tasks. Walls are too tall for communication.
- Executive offices. If you hide away the management team, there is precious little opportunity for asking questions, getting directions or bouncing ideas off those who have the power to approve or deny them.
Inspiring the Group Effort
Steve Jobs was a big believer in unplanned collaboration. This concept simply suggests that impromptu meetings between team members tend to accomplish more than the scheduled must-attend sit-downs around the conference table. If you have ever visited the Pixar campus, you will notice the huge atrium space that is perfectly set up for a number of these unplanned collaborative efforts to be underway at one time.
Quoting Jobs’ biography, My Turnstone notes that the late innovator rightly recognized a loss of the “magic that’s sparked by serendipity,” which inspired him to set up office buildings that would “make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium.” Getting together team members who do not regularly interact is credited with sparking quite a few of the great ideas that have come out of Pixar.
While your office space may not have a large atrium, you can nevertheless encourage group efforts.
- Intentional collaboration spaces. Office-wide WiFi, large empty desks with computer hookups, printers that function wirelessly and an office intranet are just a few ideas that turn an office space into an opportunity for team work.
- Incorporate the conference room. A conference room is rarely used and frequently takes away valuable office space. Switch out the regular doors with sliding or swivel doors to open up the space when it is not scheduled for use. Opt for a large table that consists of movable sections. These sections – when separated – become suitable breakout tables for team projects.
Finding an office space that meets your spatial requirements for a collaborative workspace does not have to be a tall order. As noted by The Record, Canada’s top employers champion this particular office setup. One human resources vice president stated that “there’s not one thing that makes you a top employer … you need to be innovative and creative.”
By: James Osgood