Designing an office and creating workspaces that spark ideas and innovation is different than creating ones based solely on square footage and placement of workstations.
To get the most from your work environment, think of the office as more than a facility and a collection of desks.
Think of it as a collision center.
How to Measure the Value of an Office
Offices in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Irvine and around Ontario aren’t cheap. For the foreseeable future, many employees will work remotely for at least one or two days per week. The amount of money you’re paying per square foot could seem like a waste of money. You may want to get out of a lease if you have one or downsize in some other way.
Create workspaces that become a place of engagement. Unused spaces could be places for new opportunities.
Consider how the environment is currently set up, and see if it really brings about the interactions that can propel your company forward to meet your specific goals.
The value of an office is more than what you pay for—it’s how the space is planned and whether or not it allows for people coming together easily and naturally.
The work environment can be engineered to bring about desired outcomes.
The Office as a Casual Communication Tool
In recent decades, there have been some interior design changes in buildings such as open ceilings where the duct work is visible among others. In comparison, the tools we use to work have changed drastically.
Even though surveys show people enjoy the benefits of remote working, creating workspaces that leverage the power of community and allow casual conversation will always be attractive to employees.
Photo: Allermuir Jinx Lounge
Imagine you’re working on a project and you feel stymied. When you pause to take a break, you get up for a drink or a snack and your mind relaxes.
During a casual conversation with another team member, you might bring up the problem while you’re away from the pressure of the moment. You’re not tense, and solutions come to mind.
An article in the Harvard Business Review, “Workspaces that Move People,” notes that “The team’s break area becomes a crucial collision space. At one call center, the company expanded the break room and gave reps more time to hang out there with colleagues. Paradoxically, productivity shot up after the change. Away from their phones, the reps could circulate knowledge within the group.”
Creating Workspaces with Collision Spaces
Office spaces that bring co-workers together in face-to-face interactions are known as “collision spaces.”
The seemingly informal areas allow for a free flow of dialogue and help people process. In a more formal setting, like a conference room during a team meeting, stronger personalities, or those with authoritative titles, often rule the day—and the outcomes.
Photo: Stylex Open Office Lounge and Workstation
Many times, employees don’t speak up because they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing in front of others.
However, in a place where someone can sit and relax with a pad of paper and pen, or easily cradle a laptop, there’s less pressure to perform.
The placement of furniture is one way to create an informal, collaborative area that leads to brainstorming.
Photo: OFS Kintra Table, Stylex Free Address 2.0 Open Office and Global River Lounge
Have comfortable lounge chairs with plenty of personal space between each one, but stagger the direction they’re facing. Use furnishings that are easy to re-arrange so chairs can be brought closer together or turned away from each other for maximum privacy.
Take a new approach with cubicles.
The Benefits of Today’s Cubicles
Casual conversations don’t only have to occur in informal areas.
Departments can plan collaborative spaces using the many solutions that encourage focused communication. Say you have workstations attached together in pods, like the HON Adobe Workstation.
Photo: HON Abound Workstation
And rather than have a more formal conference room, you have one cubicle that’s set apart for sessions that can either be planned or take place on the spur-of-the-moment.
You can set up a cubicle that has plenty of space for a table and a few chairs. The Friant System 2 Workstation is a good example. Panels can be installed so that there are three walls and an opening, so it has privacy with a friendly feeling.
Photo: Friant Systems 2 Workspace
When space is planned for effective interactions, then the office can become a desirable destination. Work and meetings can be done remotely, but the missing ingredient, notes the International Association of Independent Accounting Firms, is the ability to have those prized moments of unexpected, but useful, conversation.
It’s a way to capture the entrepreneurial spirit and keep morale high. The office becomes a center for synergy that lead to solutions and positive outcomes.
Get an Expert Perspective on Creating Workspaces
Arrange your office to get the maximum amount of productivity from your employees when creating workspaces for your different departments. The team at 2010 Office Furniture has more than 50 years of experience planning spaces for corporations, centers of higher education and small-to-medium sized businesses in Southern California.
Contact them to share about your possible needs and projects.
Read Also: Designing an Office to Support Your Employees
Main Photo: National Mio Table
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: Allermuir, Friant, HON, National, OFS, & Stylex