Designing An Office Space That Fosters Collaboration – Jennifer Dawson

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Did you know that a well thought-out office design can improve employees’ morale by 33%? A happy working environment is more likely to lead to more collaborative work and higher productivity. The right sort of layout will therefore achieve the right balance of encouraging interaction among colleagues, whilst not creating too many distractions that will hamper productivity. With this in mind, it is not only important for team leaders to ensure that workspaces comply with health and safety, but also to give careful consideration to the layout of the office.

Comfort is key

It goes without saying that feeling comfortable makes people more likely to work effectively. Opting for adjustable desks and chairs to accommodate your team members’ different physiques will help provide sufficient support when sitting, reducing the risk of injuries and ailments in the long run. It will also make it easier for colleagues to work at different desks together without compromising on comfort. Meanwhile, feeling comfortable at work also means feeling able to interact with others face-to-face, rather than over email or instant message. Recent studies reveal that open-plan offices have resulted in a drop in face-to-face collaboration by 73%; online interaction, meanwhile, has risen by over two thirds. With this in mind, it is important for an open-plan office to have separate ‘pods’ or rooms in which colleagues can speak to each other without feeling self-conscious or intimidated.

Ensure there are collaborative spaces

Giving employees flexibility when it comes to workspaces can not only boost job satisfaction, but can also encourage effective collaborative working. Brainstorming ideas at the beginning of a big project, for example, may mean you need to be able to openly share ideas, with the atmosphere potentially becoming quite animated as stronger themes emerge. This sort of collaborative work would probably be best taking place in a separate room or space, where colleagues feel able to bounce ideas off each other without disturbing other employees. On the other hand, for times when colleagues want to quickly plan some work together, being able to easily create a collaborative space can be very helpful. Bringing a couple of desks together to make a ‘group’ table is one option. This not only helps employees collaborate face-to-face, but also changes the dynamic and can help creativity.

Get to know what helps your team work well together

Communicating with your team members regularly is key to being a strong leader and making your staff feel valued. Try to set up regular opportunities for the team to work together, experimenting with different desk layouts and encouraging them to use different workspaces in the office. Take the time to find out from each team member what types of layout enable them to work well with other people. After all, by encouraging your team to offer feedback, you are already leading by example when it comes to working collaboratively.