Collaboration a Key in Good Office Layout

Collaborative work space

Greenery and colour can help turn a drab and depressing workplace into one where a better atmosphere leads to higher productivity.

These days, another element is shaping the design of modern work spaces in a way that allows for maximum efficiency: collaboration.

Collaborative work spaces are a relatively new development in many companies. Traditional thinking held that individual work stations would keep employees free from distraction and at their most productive.

In the face of strong data, however, employers are starting to recognize the benefits of collaborative working and learning. Not only does it improve the morale of workers, it also often produces better results.

While collaboration is catching on, however, the question remains as to how to make the most effective collaborative working space – one that allows employees to work together when it is called for but that also encourages independent work when necessary.

Steelcase WorkSpace Futures, a company that aims to improve businesses’ working models, has come up with a report titled ‘How the Workplace Can Improve Collaboration.’ The report examines Steelcase’s findings on what they call the “evolution for ‘I’ to ‘we’ at work.”

Collaborative work space

The biggest factor in creating the best possible collaborative work space comes in zoning – essentially the positioning of work stations. While technological incorporation and such simple elements as visual contact between workers, proper zoning will allow for an optimal balance of independent and collaborative work.

Steelcase offers a three-tiered model to help delineate the proper levels of interaction to ensure the best possible outcomes for both workers and companies.

The first level is coordination. At this level, workers work on a mostly individual level, interacting to meet their own work needs or to share documents or information. This ensures personal responsibility on the part of employees, which contributes to a productive – rather than a primarily social – work environment.

The second level is communication. Here, employees engage in team-building and more in-depth communication, though they continue to work more on independent goals as opposed to working together to meet a single, common goal. At this level, productivity is still high and conflicts can generally be resolved quickly and easily between parties.

The final and final level is collaboration. This is where employees work together in a true team environment toward a common objective. Interdependence is key here, and collaboration can lead to more creative outcomes as collaborators brainstorm and share ideas on a wide scale.

Each level has its own distinct uses within a successful work environment, and each should be employed where it best suits the needs of a specific project or initiative.

In ensuring a work space has the flexibility to allow for both independent and collaborative environments, a company will see the best of both worlds.

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