We all may love stories about lone genius inventors making discoveries that change the path of human history, but the truth is innovation rarely works that way. Innovation comes from collaboration, and successful companies are always striving to get better at it.
Here are five ways to increase office collaboration and help your employees work together more effectively:
1. Adopt a Collaboration Mindset
Collaboration is more than a skill; it’s an attitude. And to flourish, it has to be part of an organization’s DNA. From the executive suite to the office floor, employees need to buy into the idea that working together is the best way to increase productivity, enhance engagement and drive innovation.
Research shows collaborative companies see higher revenues, increased employee retention and faster time to market. To be effective, it’s not enough to encourage collaboration on special projects; it needs to be embedded throughout the organization as the default way of working.
2. Design with a Purpose
One of the most effective ways to foster collaboration is to create spaces that make it easy for it to happen. But before you start creating collaborative workspaces, it’s essential to figure out why you’re doing it.
Know what your collaboration goals are and what your employees need to achieve them. This will help you make better decisions about space design, technology tools and work processes that bring people together and encourage natural interactions.
This article in Wired describes that process as purposeful design – a way of designing with people in mind by:
- Putting thought into desk arrangement
- Providing easy access to technology tools
- Installing inviting office lighting
- Optimizing the flow of foot traffic
- Creating effective meetings spaces
3. Encourage More Face Time
There’s no better way to connect with people than to meet them face-to-face. It builds trust, nurtures relationships and encourages collaboration. One recent survey reported 76% of professionals felt face-to-face meetings made it easier to make critical decisions.
In-person meetings are not always possible in today’s modern workplace with employees scattered across the globe, but video-conferencing tools can help remote and local teams work together as if they were in the same room.
The key is to have formal and informal meeting spaces that are designed around collaboration and equipped with digital tools that make it easier for people to work together no matter where they’re located.
4. Create Flexible Collaboration Spaces
The great thing about collaboration is that it can happen anywhere – in a meeting room, around someone’s desk or in a huddle space tucked in a corner. Even casual encounters can be opportunities to exchange ideas, share information and collaborate.
Modular furniture systems offer flexibility, making it easy to adjust the space to fit the activity. Adaptable furniture also makes it easier to take advantage of underused spaces. For instance, moveable privacy screens can quickly turn an open area into a semi-private space where employees can meet. As well, lightweight stools and moveable tables with built-in power and data connections can be easily moved into any room and instantly transform it into a dynamic collaboration space.
5. Think Beyond the Meeting Room
Even collaborative furniture and great design won’t automatically turn your office into a vibrant hub of collaboration. To do that, you need to think about how to optimize each space with the right tools and design to promote engagement, collaboration and productivity.
Best practices in modern workplace design highlight the need for a variety of spaces to support different tasks and reflect today’s complex innovation process and diverse workforce.
The ideal collaboration workplace has a combination of spaces: large, meeting rooms with comfortable chairs, presentation spaces and audio- and video-conferencing tools; stand-up huddle areas for impromptu meetings; and casual spaces with collaborative furniture that encourage employees to talk and interact.
Ready to Make Collaboration Part of Your Winning Strategy?
Collaboration is about tapping into the collective power of your employees to solve problems and come up with game-changing ideas. And in this era of digital disruption and increasing competition, working together has never been more critical to a company’s success.
If you’d like to learn more about how to use smart technology and great design to promote collaboration in your office, check out our recent article exploring today’s hottest office design trends.
Director of Marketing & Inbound Business Development