Individualized, highly competitive work environments are becoming a thing of the past. Since over 80 percent of professionals feel they must work as a team in order to effectively do their job, many organizations are opting for a collaborative, team-focused culture instead.
As a result, companies are transitioning away from conventional office design, favoring open concept layouts to support their teams.
With this shift, however, managers find themselves struggling to organize their spaces in a way that encourages people to work together. In many cases, the furniture and spaces provided don't promote teamwork at all.
With this in mind, let's focus on how we can design the workplace in a way that allows teams to thrive - as a group and as individuals.
Traditionally, workers were granted a single coffee and lunch break throughout the day. Apart from these prearranged times, employees were expected to remain at their desk and work. But it’s important to understand how counterproductive this is. Limiting worker’s time away from their desks squashes productivity while preventing opportunities for unplanned, thought-provoking conversations.
Conversely, encouraging workers to take frequent breaks from their workspace allows them to recharge, brainstorm, and consequently, gain a fresh perspective on their work.
The key to maximizing break-time benefits is through the provision of breakout spaces. Offer employees different places to 'get away,' such as a staff lounge, informal meeting rooms, a kitchen, or even a workout area. Whatever the breakout area(s) looks like, it should create opportunities for coworkers to interact casually with one another.
Survey results illustrate how much time people waste seeking out appropriate meeting spaces. With 70 percent of workers spending 15 minutes looking for a place to meet and 24 percent squandering a half an hour, it’s clear how important it is to have sufficient spaces available. Keep in mind, a formal boardroom isn’t the only effective location for meetings; lounge rooms or cafeteria tables often function just as well when a secondary spaces is required.
For many people, having a separate, assigned workspace is important to their sense of wellbeing at work. In these instances, lower partition walls offer a great solution. Allowing for some privacy between desks, the lower partitions give an impression of a personal workspace while still allowing for open discussion between coworkers.
Centralized group tables:
Like the office version of a family dining room, group tables allow coworkers to come together as a unit. Working together closely like this promotes collaboration while still allowing for individual work.
A relatively new concept, ‘benching’ provides team members with an area they can claim as their own through the duration of a project. Benching makes it possible for team members to spread out and even reconfigure a workstation as needed.
In an articled titled, Better Teamwork Through Better Workplace Design, the Harvard Business Review suggested "thinking processes are embedded in the physical work environment."
The author explains that a team zone can “provide cognitive space to hold ideas and experiences," and that, "returning to the same workspace each day...can help teammates maintain a shared project mindset, sharpening their focus and speeding up the collaborative process."
Thanks to rapidly advancing technologies, we've got tools at our disposal for every need fathomable. From innovative room-booking systems to multi-user touchscreen whiteboards to syncing devices that enable people to easily share information, the technology exists to support collaboration and teamwork.
Teamwork shouldn't be to the detriment of those who are working alone. Providing spaces for people engaged on individual projects is just as critical as the areas intended for group work. Privacy pods or nooks separated from the group zones are intended to minimize both visual and noise distractions.
Collaboration can't be forced, but with the right team, the right tools, and the right workspaces, there's no doubt that teamwork can indeed, make the dream work (John C. Maxwell). If you’re ready to make your vision of a team-focused office environment a reality, get in touch with a CDI representative today.
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