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Bringing collaboration into the workplace

It is well known that motivation is the key to successful collaboration and higher productivity in the workplace. The office interior design and layout can make or break collaboration, because staff motivation is heavily impacted by how satisfied employees are with their day-to-day working conditions. Evoke Projects explains and evaluates the current trends in office interior design so that you can decide which style is most likely to boost motivation in your workplace.

Open plan working

When open plan workplaces were first put forward as the mecca of lower cost, ultra-productive office interior design, it was assumed that if you put people together, they would collaborate and be more productive. We now know that this reasoning was flawed, not least because it applied a one-size-fits-all approach to effective office

Open plan working still has merits when it comes to collaborative work. It encourages a free flow of information, informal discussions and an exchange of Today, open plan working has come of age; helped along by some very clever research into office interior design. ‘Open plan’ has evolved to mean so much more than one large space full of desks and people. It is now incorporated into more sophisticated office interior design concepts known as flexible working, activity based working, hoteling and unassigned seating.

Let’s look at these different concepts …

  • Activity based working
    Activity based working is a style of office interior design that creates zones based on different work activities. Staff move to an area that best suits the type of activity they need to do. This may mean going to a quiet working area, a private meeting room or a communal breakout space. Activity based working improves employee satisfaction and therefore increases collaboration and productivity. Activity based working also stops staff from becoming mentally chained to a personal desk and encourages them to explore the best way to achieve their objectives.
  • Flexible working
    Flexible working generally provides for staff to work in a less structured time management capacity compared to the normal 9-5 office environment. It encompasses desk sharing, job sharing, part-time employees and working from home. The office interior design needs to be adapted to suit staff coming and going at different times of the day. It will be necessary to conduct occupancy studies before you design your office layout, so that you know how many people are likely to need desks at any given time. Take into account absences for working from home, training, travel, holidays and sickness. A new study, by Regus, has found that 79 per cent of Australian small to medium size enterprises report higher levels of employee productivity as a result of flexible office interior designs and working practices. This is likely to be because flexible working improves the work-life balance, particularly when some allowance is made for working from home. Motivation is high and this leads to collaboration and higher productivity.
  • Hoteling
    Hoteling is another evolution of flexible working and activity based working, where staff reserve and ‘check-in’ to various workplace settings during their day, week or an even longer period. For effective space management, a booking system is necessary. Hoteling can give staff control over where they work, so that teams can collaborate with ease. Some organisations go one step further and have an administration team member set up each desk for the person who has reserved it next.
  • Unassigned seating / hot desking
    Unassigned seating is a ‘first come, first served’ office interior design solution. This works best if you already have one or more of the above working methods in place and just use hot desking for specific departments. Look for departments where there are always enough desks for workers, and where there is unlikely to be conflict about who sits where. Departments that might suit this approach include those with a high degree of part-time workers or sales consultants that travel frequently.
  • Holistic workplaces
    Social science is increasingly shaping our approach to office interior design. Given that motivation is the precursor to optimum productivity, and that each employee is an individual, it makes sense to adopt a multi-faceted approach. As an example, Evoke Projects offers an office interior design solution called Place 2.5. This was developed as a result of social research through which sociologists identified three places in our world:
    1st place – Home
    2nd place – Work
    3rd place – Leisure places, such as a park.Place 2.5 office design captures the emotional stimulation that you will find in your leisure time: a 2nd place that feels like a 3rd place. It incorporates intelligent furniture and interior design solutions that bring the 3rd place benefits to the office. This holistic approach to office interior design includes thoughtful acoustics, lighting, plants, aromas and indoor climate. Each person draws something positive from the available zones, furniture options and surroundings. Team collaboration will thrive in such an environment.Whichever office interior design solution you select for your business, also consider the following:Technology
    Technology solutions are paramount to modern, more flexible office interior designs, so laptops and mobile phones for all staff are a must-have. Virtual filing, video conferencing and office systems and calendars that sync are also invaluable for collaboration. Make sure your I.T. department is involved and committed to making your office design work. Even with the most sophisticated office interior design, people won’t stay motivated for long if they don’t have the tools to do their
    Team base for large organisations
    Large organisations run the risk of teams becoming disconnected when flexible office desk use results in a random allocation of people. Allocate ‘team bases’ so that the flexibility takes place only within certain zones. That way, teams can find each other easily and collaborate effectively.
    Breakout zone
    Encourage greater interaction between staff by making the breakout zone a popular place to work. Some companies put a great deal of thought into their communal office interior design. For example, at Virgin, the communal space resembles an airport viewing deck and is complete with a full-size cockpit and a row of check-in

For more information on any of the office interior design concepts above, please contact Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692.

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