Collaboration is one of the most important facets of a productive and harmonious workplace, being a driving force behind creativity across departments – whether creative applications of financial instruments, or the agile development of new products and processes. Indeed, creativity is a virtue often unsung in business practice, despite being a fundamental factor in competitive growth.
Facilitating that ‘spark’ that collaboration allows can be difficult for businesses, though, particularly when considering the present business landscape. For one, an unintended consequence of new hybrid working models is decreased face-to-face interaction between employees, making for less organic opportunities to collaborate and create.
As opposed to forcing workers back into the office, though, business leaders should instead be inspiring workers back into the office. This means re-tooling the modern office with collaboration and creativity in mind. But what does this look like in practice?
Fuelling collaboration means granting your employees every opportunity to spend productive time together. In conventional offices, conference spaces are typically used to this end – but are relatively uninspiring, and even sterile to a fault. In redesigning your premises, you can reject traditional notions of meeting space and opt instead for a fresher approach; meeting spaces might employ a range of furniture and features, allowing for everything from a formal session to an informal brainstorming environment.
Thinking outside the box can also include thinking outside your premises entirely. To facilitate creativity in the most accommodating possible way, you should weaponise every part of your premises. Your offices might have a terrace, patio or even garden attached, which could be re-developed to attract workers in the summer.
Even the simple addition of paving stones and a pergola to an outdoor area can be enough to invite outdoor collaboration, particularly when the warmer weather and summer sun arrive. That provision of fresh air and sun can help with worker energy, as well as to quite literally facilitate blue sky thinking.
Another major barrier to workplace collaboration is stress. Many workers across the UK feel they have more than enough on their plate, and may incentivise themselves to work hard at their in-tray alone as opposed to with a team. This is somewhat corroborated by recent YouGov statistics, indicating that more than half of UK employees feel at least ‘fairly’ stressed at work.
Countering this can have manifold positive impacts for a given business, whether with regard to productivity or simply worker morale. A subsidiary benefit is boosting the social engagement of workers with one another, enabling a more cohesive workplace and more opportunities for collaborative growth.
This, in a practical, office-design scenario, might look like the inclusion of spaces for the express purpose of relaxation. These could be sensory pods that give workers and opportunity to escape the bustle of the workplace for a spell, or lounge areas with refreshments to encourage a healthy approach to both work and break-times.
Photo credits: Coworking London