One of the keys to effective collaboration is to provide a functional, yet inspirational space where employees want to meet and can do so efficiently. Tight cubicles and and dingy, fluorescent-lit conference rooms are not conducive to collaboration and certainly don’t inspire creativity. Although every business is different and budgets and building setups might limit a company’s options in their space, making an honest effort to optimize available space can not only improve office aesthetics, but also ignite continuous innovation and inspiration amongst employees.
Private and public spaces are equally important to have in the workplace. The architecture and layout of a company workplace determines how best to implement the integration of private and group collaborative spaces, but furniture and artistic decor can be added at any time. Large tables that can seat small and large groups of people in open and well-lit areas can relax employees and stimulate productivity. Using glass walls to partition off separate spaces within a larger area provides the feel of a larger and more open environment, while allowing others to hold separate conversations or work solo. Adding color can also be helpful. This is a great opportunity to brand your own workspace and give it a bright and dynamic look, while building pride and internal loyalty to your own brand. It also helps reinforce positive corporate culture. From hanging art or photography, to chalk-wall message boards for employees, creative touches make for a more engaging and dynamic work environment and can go a long way towards lightening the mood in any workplace.
Kay Sargent, director of workplace strategies at infrastructure solutions provider Lend Lease, says today’s companies are designing spaces where employees are not restricted to sitting in a specific spot.
“Rather than going to sit at one desk all day, it could be that I’ll start working at a bench, then go to a quieter space for head-down concentration, then to the social hub to connect with co-workers,” she says. “We’ve moved beyond traditional offices to agile design.”
Decor does not necessarily have to be modern. While many companies have adopted this type of furnishing, creating a space that is conducive to company culture is essential. Mismatching the decor and employee preference can create discontinuity. For example, a new tech startup will likely not want the same setup as an established investment banker’s office. While this comparison is perhaps an example of stark contrast, it nonetheless illustrates a crucial point. If the space isn’t in line with company or overall employee preferences, the point of creating a collaborative space falls short of its exact purpose. If not executed correctly, it can prove to be more detrimental than helpful.
Creating a dynamic, collaborative, effective and enjoyable location from which to run your business – and an inspirational work space for your employees – will pay off in the long run. The initial vision and outlay is a proven way to improve retention rates and engagement, enhance collaboration and creativity, and strengthen corporate identity and culture.