Friday 30th October 2015

Collaborative working styles are something business leaders often look for in their new employees. But what many don’t consider is how the office space itself can encourage collaboration. Below are five ways to improve employee collaboration by changing the space around them.

1. Give everyone some privacy

Ironically, to encourage collaboration, businesses need not only to build meeting rooms and break-out areas, but also create spaces where employees can go to be alone. Research has shown that strictly open plans actually make employees less productive, which in turn can cause feelings of resentment toward their coworkers who may not be respectful of quiet time ( Resentment can cause tensions to rise and make it more difficult to work together as a team, so it’s best to build in some private and flexible working spaces to ensure employees feel like they can get away from their coworkers when they need to.

2. Don’t forget about those not in the office

When working in a large corporate headquarters, it can be easy to forget about the employees who are outside of the office. Company-wide meetings, for example, can be difficult for remote employees to dial into due to the amount of noise on the other end. This difficulty can create a divide and distance between co-workers. This can be solved with the implementation of easy-to-use video integrated meeting tools. Face-to-face interactions help employees across locations feel closer to their home office and increase the positive feelings they have toward their co-workers.

3. Leverage tech employees would use anyway

Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) is an accepted trend in offices today, emphasizing the convergence between consumer and enterprise hardware & software. Employees expect to be able to communicate with one another as easily as they do with their friends and family members across the globe, so it behooves employers to seek out interoffice communications technologies that feel as seamless as what employees use already. A user-friendly corporate social network could also play well, particularly with the younger generations.

4. Think about how they sit

Stanford researchers have ascertained that when people recline or lounge in their seat, they are more likely to critique, rather than collaborate. Business leaders can combat that by offering furniture to encourage active posture – think benches instead of office chairs that allow you to recline, or playground furniture – and keep the collaborative energy high.

5. Create a space that meaningfully connects people across departments

When designing a layout, business leaders should consider which people should be working near one another and seat them accordingly. For example, the supply chain manager may need to work near the promotions team to ensure that enough product is always distributed to partners when they are having a marketing promotion. Some teams may benefit from working near one another even if they do not typically interact, such as the engineering and the sales team. A space that forces collision will create organic collaboration on a regular basis.

In order to boast a collaborative culture, businesses do not need to search far and wide for collaborative people. Instead, companies can draw out collaborative tendencies of their staff by managing the space around them.

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