Isn’t it exciting when you bump into someone you haven’t seen in awhile? You quickly reminisce, catch up and engage enthusiastically for the few minutes that you have. Or what about just bumping into your best friend unexpectedly? You can ask him that question now instead of calling, texting, or emailing later. Exciting things happen when people collide, so why not plan possibilities for collisions into your work environment?
Planned collisions are design strategies that support collaboration in work environments. This goes beyond your morning coffee, a minute at the “water cooler” or your lunch break. Planning circulation paths and spaces that “force” people to collide throughout the day creates multiple opportunities for informal collaboration. This allows people from different disciplines to connect despite the location of their office. These collisions can lead to inspiring moments of innovation or simply a stronger sense of community within the corporation.
Does your workplace encourage collaboration?
- Do all meetings get booked in meeting rooms?
- If you stood up in your office could you see more than 4 people?
- Do you talk to the people around you? Or are they hidden all day behind their panel walls?
- Are there more places to have a lunch and coffee than your office and the cafeteria?
- Are there any spaces in your workplace to leave a thought behind?
- How close are you to a quick, impromptu meeting space?
When it comes to successful planning collaborative spaces into your work environment consider the following:
- Find a balance
- Make it visible
- Set off sparks
- Plan collisions
- Meet quick
- Efficient use of space
- Promote sharing
- Flexibility is key
- Create a buzz
- Invite them
- Address virtual distance
- Know thyself
Remember – Exciting things happen when people collide! If you need help planning for collaboration contact Schroeder Solutions email@example.com
Are you too busy multi-tasking on your electronic devices to pay attention to the people in the room with you?
As the illustration shows, technology often takes the place of face-to-face interaction. Note the single figure (Hey!) who is asking for attention. But is technology the enabler we are looking for? Can virtual teams succeed? The answer is, “yes” and “no.”
The Internet, smart phone and video conferencing are a diverse set of tools that magically unite us with colleagues across time and space. They are limited, however, in providing “social presence.” Technology makes it easy to communicate quickly, but does quality match ease and speed? How many misunderstandings occur through email? Do team members fail to update others with new data? Can tacit knowledge—like learning to use the copier—be transmitted electronically?
Is the amount of face-time between your team members as well as your clients declining? If so, you may want to consider the effects of Virtual Distance. According to authors of Uniting the Virtual Workforce, Karen Sobel Lojeski and Richard R. Reilly, Virtual Distance “is a psychological distance created between people by an over-reliance on electronic communication.” Their research shows that as Virtual Distance increases there is a:
– 50% decline in project success (on-time, on-budget delivery)
– 90% drop in innovation effectiveness
– 80% plummet in work satisfaction
– 83% fall off in trust
– 65% decrease in role and goal clarity
– 50% decline in leader effectiveness
If technology allows your company to communicate with ease and speed, that is great. But, you may want to evaluate the quality of that communication and monitor the satisfaction of your employees as well as your clients. Have you ever been misunderstood in an email or had a hard time hearing someone during a conference call? That affects the quality of the communication, right? Furthermore, face-to-face interactions provide opportunities for deeper connections, moments that may have lasting impact on your corporate culture and client satisfaction.
Does your work environment provide the right balance between technological and human interactions?
In this illustration, a man is shown moving between solitary work at the desk and group work at the table. Shuttling between the two sites and modes of work occurs again and again throughout the workday. This illustration helps generate questions about supporting both work styles, e.g., how do you shield workers in an open plan from visual and acoustic distractions? How do you provide privacy for thinking, planning and writing? At the same time, how do you make it easy to interact, and to know what others are thinking and doing?
When planning a new office space or considering a remodel, individual work styles need to be considered in order to create an environment that supports privacy and task completion as well as teaming and collaboration. Thoughtful space planning and careful product selections will allow your company to establish a unique company culture that suits a variety of work functions and styles.
For more questions on how to create a work environment that supports The Swivel and other distinct work styles contact Nikki Couillard – Vice President | Lead Designer at firstname.lastname@example.org
In this illustration, the several lightly connected figures form the profile of a single head. Again, the image clarifies the nature of collaboration, a kind of interaction that “amplifies” ideas by connecting “interested individuals” who bring a “separate breadth and depth of knowledge” to a problem, ultimately yielding a solution no one person could reach alone. No matter how intelligent or creative one may be, an individual’s reservoir of knowledge, as well as any one person’s way of thinking, of looking at the world, of approaching a problem, has inherent limits. – taken from “CoCreate” by Teknion
Whether you work on a team within your office or contact a friend or professional colleague to bounce an idea off of, you collaborate. Recognizing the benefits of this process and creating more opportunities for collaboration will only strengthen the impact of these efforts on your company. Office spaces that are designed to provide both formal and informal connections between employees create moments for sharing. Likewise, Internet access, participation in various forms of social media, and networking opportunities increase chances for interactions with professionals and valuable information. The more connections you make the more collaboration that occurs… and that is where inspiration lies and the best solutions emerge.