Encouraging Collaboration through Office Design

May 17, 2016

The workplace is changing. As every facet of people’s lives is becoming increasingly globalized in nature, the sharing economy is emerging as the model for office life just as much as anywhere else.

The walls are disappearing between departments (both figuratively and literally) and the ceilings are falling in on hierarchies. Work that was once focused on the individual is now becoming the focus of the group. Up to and including organization-wide idea sharing is becoming an accepted, and sometimes expected part of problem solving in the workplace. The managers and executives that workers lower down the food chain would have rarely seen in the past are beginning to feel more like colleagues than overlords.

Organization-wide idea sharing is becoming an accepted, and sometimes expected, part of problem solving in the workplace.

So how can management prepare the workplace for such change? In short: open up.

The sharing phenomenon is completely transforming the way that work life is viewed. For the vast majority of workers since the time of the Industrial Revolution, talking, relaxation and anything else that might have been construed as enjoyable was at best frowned upon by superiors – and more often clamped down on harshly.

However, as the idea that providing a pleasant experience contributes to both the health and productivity of workers continues to gain traction and popularity, businesses are attempting to expand and strengthen by looking inwards as well as outwards.

Using spaces flexibly can transform them from closed-off areas into inclusive ones.

Open-plan offices with low dividers, if any, between desks encourage information sharing and shared problem solving. Having management working in the same areas as those they manage gives the opportunity for improved relationships. It also promotes greater understanding about, and respect for, the roles each person plays in a company.

Offices that belong to executives who only sometimes need to use them can be employed at free times for meetings or calls. Using spaces flexibly can transform them from closed-off areas into inclusive ones.

Communal areas that invite workers to want to be in them are important for encouraging information sharing across different departments. They also provide a comfortable atmosphere that makes workers feel more at home, and more inclined to treat their work as something they want to do rather than something they have to.

Comfortable, ergonomically designed furniture, like that provided by Crossford, sets employees up to tackle the issues posed by work rather than environment. It also looks after longer-term physical health and adds to comfort and overall positivity.

The new collaborative workplace is one that encourages teamwork by removing as many barriers to cooperation as possible, whether through open-plan offices, flattened hierarchies or space sharing. It also promotes positivity by creating spaces where workers enjoy being. With a little innovation, an outdated view of management cracking the whip can be transformed into a fresh vision shared by all employees.

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