Improving Collaboration Through Workplace Design
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As anyone who’s watched HGTV knows, good designers can do wonders with a dull, drab or ineffective space. A few thousand dollars, a new floor plan and voila! – Perfect flow and a productive new layout.
But what if that space is your business and you’re not a designer with thousands to spare? Is it possible to enjoy the benefits of good design, including better employee collaboration? Happily, the answer is yes. The following tips can help.
Look, listen and learn
Take a moment during the day to observe how work is getting done. Is the flow logical? Do employees gather spontaneously or in designated spots? Are loud conversations preventing others from concentrating? Ask employees if they feel the space is productive. You may learn more than you think.
Keep it clean
In an age where a single laptop can hold the equivalent of several filing cabinets is there really a good reason to have clutter around? Clutter gets in the way literally and figuratively. A clean work environment gives employees greater access to each other and to resources. Encourage employees to keep desks and workspaces clean.
Set the tone
While color has flourished in home décor, businesses have been less inclined to capitalize on its benefits. A change in hue can have an immediate and powerful impact on collaboration. If you’re looking to inspire a creative team, yellow will help. Greens are calming and blues have been known to stimulate the mind. For an in-depth look at the dynamics in play, check out this piece on the Color Affects System.
There’s a word for comfort in the workplace called Ergonomics, the study of people in their working environment. As mundane as it sounds, simple things like chair height and monitor angle can have a direct effect on productivity. Once everyone is aligned correctly, collaboration can happen without distractions such as eyestrain or backaches.
Buck the trend
When cubicles started falling like the Berlin Wall in the early 2000’s, workplace experts hailed the open concept as an evolution in collaboration. But something unexpected happened – workers began going under, using ear buds to tune out. Employers soon learned that too much open space made people clam up. So if you’re still dropping walls, consider incorporating a handful of private areas where people can feel comfortable collaborating in small groups.
Natural light in the workplace stimulates more than just the ferns and philodendrons. Outdoor light, even on a cloudy day can cheer up and motivate workers. When moods are good, collaboration has a better chance of taking place.
A work wall is like ‘pin the donkey’ in reverse. With eyes wide open, invite employees to hang magazine ads, sketches on post-its and anything else they find inspirational and informative that’s job related. As the wall grows, review it periodically with them as a source of ideas.
When a workplace is well designed, employers can reap several benefits. Collaboration is one of the most beneficial.