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Collaboration and connection has never been more important

This year has certainly put our ability to collaborate and connect to the test. In some ways, it has redefined our understanding of what it means. Workplace design company Evoke Projects explores the modern definition and the benefits of workplace collaboration.

What is workplace collaboration?

Collaboration is generally understood as a united effort towards a commongoal. It involves people sharing ideas, brainstorming, having open communication and contributing skills.

During 2020, online tools became increasingly important for collaboration as more people worked from home. Adoption of file sharing, video conferencing and social media skyrocketed, with usage not restricted to the workplace as families relied on technology to stay in touch. Video conferencing provider, Zoom, reported its user numbers growing from 10 million to 200 million during the COVID-19 crisis.

The sudden change in working patterns caused the practicality of collaboration to go under the microscope like never before. We also realised the importance of connection in the workplace during enforced periods of working from home. Many people missed the office camaraderie and face to face communication. The practicality of collaboration and ability to connect at work were once taken for granted, but now form part of our understanding of true collaboration.

Benefits of workplace collaboration

Long term business profitability – While individual achievements might translate into short term revenue or profits, collaboration adds value to the workflow resulting in longer term gains to a business.

Improved motivation and well-being – Working together as a team contributes to a sense of belonging and connection, which is important to human beings. Our work relationships affect our motivation, productivity and indeed, our mental health. Successful collaboration improves morale and promotes a positive work culture.

Skill optimisation – workplace collaboration makes the most of the knowledge, experience and skills of all participants.

Faster problem solving – collaboration solves problems more quickly as extra talent is brought to the table.

Greater purpose – a team that has a common goal becomes more focused on achieving that goal.

How your workplace design strategy can support collaboration

We have already mentioned the new focus on the practical aspects of collaboration. The workplace design team at Evoke Projects have some practical tips for ensuring your staff can collaborate more easily.

Optimise technology – When choosing which file sharing and video conferencing software to use, consider users both in the office and at home. Staff may need new home routers, upgraded internet plans or help updating firmware to get the most out of their home networks. It is also worth training staff on cybersecurity basics so that everyone can collaborate confidently.

Create an agile workplace design – The office fit-out can make or break collaboration. Tasks may need singular or group work. Creative brainstorming will be noisy, while intricate work requires a quiet place. An agile workplace design and fit-out gives people the freedom to work where they want. This morale-boosting way to work is called Activity Based Working. A new office design supporting Activity Based Working would include quiet working zones, private meeting rooms, group meeting pods, open workstation areas and breakout spaces.

Breakout for social familiarity – Breaking down cultural and generational barriers is important for collaboration. Getting to know co-workers on a personal level helps to build relationships between different groups of people. Lounge areas, booths, breakfast bars, courtyards and roof gardens are perfect breakout spaces within a workplace fit-out to encourage people to interact informally. Outside the office, a lunchtime walking group, a work trivia team or a charity fundraiser can help people to get to know each other. Add feature walls, funky brand colours, phone charging outlets and biophilic design elements to make the breakout area attractive.

Add better acoustics to the office fit-out – white noise, acoustic partitions, soft materials and carpets are great sound absorbers. A kind acoustic setting will encourage people to speak freely without feeling that everybody in the office is listening. Soundproof work zones are good for private meetings or loud brainstorming sessions.

Businesses that recognise the value of collaboration can reap productivity and staff well-being benefits, putting them ahead of the competition in the quest for customers and employee talent.  Please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692 to find out more about workplace designs that support collaboration.

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