Creating the best collaborative space for your workers should be on top of your priority list. If you are returning to the office after working from home for a year, it’s time to reimagine and redesign your workspace to create more spaces that will encourage collaboration among your employees. You don’t need to spend so much on renovating the office space, but you have to be resourceful if you plan to operate your business in a post-pandemic world.
Stop Assigning Seats
One of the biggest mistakes that employers make when they hire people is to assign them seats. Why not let them roam around the office to find the best place to set up? Depending on who their “seatmates” will be, they can collaborate with different people for a particular day. Assigned seating is a traditional setup, which has grown antiquated over the years because it stops workers from connecting with other departments. The tendency is for them to work with the same people repeatedly. This is a crisis in productivity.
Create Open Spaces
Enclosed spaces kill creative juices. Encourage your employees to collaborate by having them spend time outdoors. You don’t need a large yard or garden for this. A small balcony lined with artificial turf is enough for your staff to go outdoors and enjoy the sun and fresh air. You can also put some lounge chairs outside, so they’ll be comfortable while throwing ideas off each other. This process will create more opportunities for them to think outside the box and collaborate with other units or departments.
Offer Private Conversation Spaces
A common misconception when facilitating collaboration is to provide big meeting spaces for large groups. Lately, however, organizations can benefit from small groups of two to four people. You might wonder, ‘why not just let them talk at a small table in the main office?’ People who collaborate on projects need to have private conversations. These spaces will allow their creative juices to flow.
But it could also be a problem due to the lack of space in your office. What you can do is to have movable walls that can enclose and open up spaces depending on how your workers need them. Those with private offices can also be extra accommodating by allowing their space to be used by others when they’re out of the office. While privacy is always an issue, everyone has to find a way around it when collaboration is at stake.
Make Social Spaces Welcoming
Does your office have a pantry? Then, make sure to surprise your employees every now and then. A good way to encourage them to socialize is to redesign the pantry. Make it welcoming with deep couches, an espresso machine, and a fridge of healthy snacks and nibblers.
If you have the budget and space for it, add a treadmill, yoga mats, and exercise balls to let your employees work out during office breaks. The lack of creativity in the office is because their work has become too sedentary. Focus also on allowing them to care for their well-being while in the office. This isn’t something they can only do outside the traditional work setup.
Invest in Flexible Furniture
Heavy furniture such as those bolted to the ground can make a space feel constricting. Instead of these pieces, invest in flexible furniture that you can move around the office. Examples of these are wheeled chairs and tables, stackable chairs, movable standing desks, and many more. If you need ample open space for a collaborative project, you can move the furniture around to make room for people.
Movable furniture will also encourage employees to work individually and collaborate as a team if needed. You need to keep individual spaces for those who like to work alone. At the same time, make sure that these furniture pieces will not be cumbersome as they will prevent people from joining together and sharing their ideas.
Most employers today think about their own experiences in the past when creating collaborative spaces. However, they need to remember that the work environment wasn’t the same as before. Employees are more demanding today, but they also value their well-being on top of earning for their families.
In an entirely new world created by the pandemic, collaboration is more critical than ever. Providing that space for your employees should not only be a top priority, but it should be your only priority now before you welcome your workers back. Empower them through well-designed and well-integrated workspaces.