As a business owner, you are well aware of the value of collaboration where it comes to getting your desired results. However, unless your office is designed in a way that promotes it, your attempts to encourage collaboration—and increase job satisfaction—may only continue to be sabotaged.
Change the Way You Look at Space
In order to ensure your office layout inspires collaboration, it’s important to first consider how your existing space will be managed. In order to do this successfully, you must first look at the objective of the space, and then ensure that your design uses that space efficiently. Your redesign should have a clear purpose. Once this is identified, a space that promotes this purpose can be created.
If you have a large office space, you will need to consider whether or not standardizing certain elements is feasible. For instance, you might consider your office’s common elements, and then choose to extend those elements to all parts of the office. This standardization can provide your office space with a feeling of continuity that can inspire collaboration on a subconscious level.
Many business owners dread a redesign, as they think the organizational aspect will suffer as a result. Not so; organization is actually a central part and goal of redesign, or, at least, it should be. A messy office with inadequate organization will only breed distraction and stress. An office that’s been optimized for collaboration includes a place where important paperwork and supplies can be easily found.
An Accurate Reflection
Your office space must also accurately reflect your company culture. A look and feel that complements this is the goal. Color is a significant aspect of office redesign. Like organization can subconsciously inspire collaboration, so, too, can color inspire increased office efficiency better mood and, ultimately, a boost in morale.
What Every Collaborative Space Needs
An office that cuts employees off from one another will do little to inspire collaboration, but, when that space allows people to connect, collaboration is the inevitable result. To achieve this, you’ll need to consider several elements.
There must be a balance of between open and enclosed space in your redesign. For open space, consider incorporating large open areas where employees have plenty of room to gather. Even the hallways in your office can be widened to inspire communication.
In addition to open space, your employees also need their own space in which to work. Incorporating some kind of boundary that separates collaborative hubs from individual work space is key.
You can also define your space in terms of zones. You can have a “quiet zone” where employees can complete individual tasks. Social zones can be reserved for employees wishing to take a few minutes to talk about the day with their colleagues. Collaborative zones allow teams to congregate in a space without disturbing others, and learning areas provide employees with an opportunity to brush up on existing knowledge or discover something new.
Better office efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to work without walls, however. There is actually another way to achieve this feeling, and that is to do away with permanent or assigned seating. This will allow employees to vary their locations within your office, which will encourage interaction and collaboration with others.
If this is not preferable, consider arranging seating in rows or clusters. Both will allow for defined sight lines which will provide the feel of a more open space. Not only that, but it will encourage working in teams, which has been proven to benefit productivity more than working alone.
Where rooms need to exist, consider using paneling systems or enclosing them in clear glass, both which can inspire many a creative process. Not only will this ensure that the continuity of your new office space is uninterrupted, but it also allows employees the ability to see one another.
Take, for example, the traditional closed office. Should employees require information, they need to approach a person’s office and knock on the door. With low paneling or clear glass, they can instantly know when a person is available, and the person can see any fellow employees approaching the office.
The 50-Foot Rule
Another way to frame space is to use the 50-foot rule. Regardless of what elements you are trying to incorporate, any that are located in excess of 50 feet from the space where work occurs are very likely to go unused. That being said, any features, whether they are rooms, hubs, or similar allowances, should be located in close proximity to where teams gather.
Experts advise making use of natural light where ever you can. Even if your office does not have direct light, you can still capture it. This is easy to do; simply use glass or mirrors to reflect light throughout your office.
Where this is not possible, you must ensure that all areas are well-lit. Light will both allow your employees to see what they are doing, as well as help to maintain that energetic and collaborative vibe.
If available, natural light can provide your efficient office with a main light supply, but you’ll want to ensure you have backup overhead lighting for after-hours collaboration. Task lighting should also be a part of your redesign, allowing for individual focus when needed.
Lighting also refers to that which is emitted by computer monitors. While today’s LED screens offer many benefits, in terms of clarity and color, some have a shiny surface which can become a nightmare when the lighting is incorrect. Where this is the case, task lighting that is pointed away from the monitor surface can be ideal, as can recessed lighting.
An office that has the right furniture will increase employee comfort. When employees feel more comfortable during the day, they will be more likely to want to collaborate and communicate with one another.
The same is true of desks; when they contain enough space for employees to work and store important documents, time-wasting clutter is eliminated. With clutter gone, employees can devote more time to collaboration.
A Common Worry
In thinking about how to improve productivity in the workplace, some business owners fear a loss of employee focus when considering a redesign. After all, it is a huge adjustment, especially if your employees have historically been separated from one another, but experts agree that the workplace is shifting from the “single worker” to “team” mentality.
Just like technology, staying ahead of the game where possible is the goal when redesigning your office space. Of course, change is commonly shunned in favor of the familiar. However, when done correctly, you can ensure that change is easier for employees.
Involve Employees Early
Where it comes to figuring out the best way to redesign to a more efficient office, your most valuable input will come from your employees. Their needs should definitely be considered when planning your new collaboration-inspiring office space. Ask them what would inspire them to collaborate more efficiently; the great feedback you receive will be worth it.
Just asking your employees what they think can have a significant impact on their morale. They will feel more invested in the decision, and in your company as a whole.
Give Them Plenty of Notice
Your employees need to be kept informed about what’s happening to the space they spend so much time in. Keep them in the loop with an explanatory message that’s been sent to all employees. You’ll also want to post this notice where employees can see it, as well as post any updates when they become available.
Leave Room for Questions
In addition to keeping employees informed about upcoming changes to your office design and layout, you’ll also want to ensure there is plenty of time for employees to ask questions and get answers. Taking the time to do this will help employees to become more comfortable with upcoming changes, and they will be more likely to accept them when they arrive.
Consult the Experts
Deciding how to improve efficiency in a business can be a daunting task. If the thought of redesigning your office leaves you feeling overwhelmed, the experts at Office Furniture Expo can help.
Our specialists have been helping offices in the metro Atlanta area to beautify and optimize their spaces for over 35 years, and our competitive pricing makes every investment an affordable one. Your new space is just a call away at (770) 455-0440