How to Design for Teamwork and Collaboration
It’s no secret that some of our best ideas can come when we least expect them. There is substantial evidence to suggest that this often happens when we are engaged in teamwork and collaboration.
Does talking really increase productivity?
Face-to-face (or virtual) interactions can help stimulate our creativity, helping us approach problems from another perspective and provide opportunities for ‘sparks’ of inspiration. One company found that when a salesperson increased their interactions with their co-workers by 10%, their sales also grew by 10%. The problem with planning these types of interactions to achieve a desired result is that they are largely spontaneous in nature. Therefore the challenge becomes encouraging chance encounters between employees.
Designing for spontaneity
A great way to encourage employees from different departments to collaborate or talk is to create specific spaces where they have the opportunity to do so, side effects away from their desk. For example, breakout spaces specifically functioning as meeting spaces for employees to hold informal meetings or socialize. Many companies are integrating these spaces into their office, with breakout spaces largely becoming a key element of the modern workplace. One company found that by creating these communal spaces, they created a 42% increase in face-to-face encounters, as well as a 78% increase in participant-generated proposals to solve specific problems. This ultimately led to an 84% increase in the number of new leaders, as a result of people championing the ideas they had created during these informal interactions.
How to create communal spaces
One of the companies, from a recent study, that set out to create spontaneous interactions, replaced small coffee stations with bigger cafe-style areas. In doing so, they encouraged people from different functional areas in the company to come together and talk, thus increasing the diversity of ideas. However, if you’re pressed for space, you don’t necessarily need to create a separate room. For example, you can use furniture and screens to section-off a small area of your open plan office for employees to use. Often a few comfy chairs and a table is enough to create a breakout space that can be used for spontaneous or informal meetings.
Do you need a breakout area in your workplace? Talk to our office design experts today.