Flexible spaces are shaking up the way in which we work, proven to enhance productivity, employee wellness and work-life balance. But, have you considered how flexible workspaces could also promote collaboration?
Project management is a buzz word across most businesses, but project collaboration is equally important – boosting creativity, organic thinking and an employee’s sense of ownership in a project. There are simple yet highly-effective steps that businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors can take to ensure that their workplace is designed to promote project collaboration.
Start with the basics
The most fundamental way that a workspace can help or hinder collaboration is through its design. Not only do considerations such as plentiful natural light, sufficient airflow and low noise levels boost employee wellness, they also create an environment where individuals feel able to voice opinions, brainstorm and create. Offices with large windows capitalise on both light and fresh air, whilst having adequate space to move around the office allows team members to visit each other’s desks and prompts collaboration outside of scheduled meetings. A light, bright and positive workspace goes a long way.
Play with your space
The key to making project collaboration a cornerstone of your management technique – and to enjoying the benefits – is to let teamwork happen organically. A flexible office can be adapted to suit your team’s current workload – moving desks and adding meeting rooms easily – and this streamlines the collaboration process for each individual project. Team members can meet whenever necessary, rather than being forced to wait for a scheduled meeting. What’s more, this flexibility also helps to create a healthy team spirit and positive relationships between employees. However, the collaborative office design offered by flexible working can’t do it all – leaders should also create a collegiate atmosphere to ensure employees feel able to speak up confidently.
Additionally, a traditional lease can lock a business into its office for decades, whereas a 12 – 36-month lease with a flexible operator provides you with the freedom to move offices as needed, scaling up or scaling down to add man power, or even move to another building in the portfolio. Here is when a cluster portfolio also comes in particularly handy as, if your operator has a huddle of buildings in one area, you may only have to move down the road! Don’t let your workspace restrict your team’s creative thinking, or your business’ growth.
The freedom of shared spaces
A fresh space to think and work is also a crucial part of collaborative workplace design. Multiple studies have shown employee engagement can be boosted by moving to new surroundings, even if only briefly, and the change in scenery will help focus your team’s mind on the new task and result in more creative processes. Traditional offices have few communal areas, but flexible workspaces will often host a range of innovative shared spaces like break out areas, meeting rooms, cafés and even beautiful outdoor locations. Shatter the presenteeism mindset by offering employees space to think away from their day-to-day desk.
Such spaces also mean that employees can have as much conversation as necessary, helping those in the office concentrate on individual tasks while the project team can get animated and discuss freely. Flexible working is also bigger than just space and hours – get creative with whiteboards, flip charts and similar aids to prompt everyone to work as a team.
Meetings don’t have to be boring
For more formal occasions, perhaps when meeting clients or investors, take advantage of a flexible office provider’s meeting rooms and business lounges. These allow you to access productive facilities without having to pay the overheads of a permanent traditional lease. Leverage the address and also the communal areas of your workspace to add value to your business and impress clients. Also, a recent survey found that 83% of workers in the UK look for flexibility in a job, so interview a desirable hire in these spaces to demonstrate the ways in which your business offers innovative working.
The benefits of project collaboration are clear – stimulating both productivity and results as well as employee engagement and wellness. But, to make the most of this and encourage employees to collaborate naturally, it is critical that your workspace supports your efforts. Simple design principles will mean that collaboration is engrained in the everyday operation of your business.
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This article on ‘Design for collaboration’ is by Beth Hampson, Commercial Director at London Executive Offices.
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