Together we are stronger
We often say that “many hands make light work” but, even more importantly, many hands can deliver “stronger work”. Workplace design and office fit-out company Evoke Projects examines the role of teamwork and collaboration in building a stronger business.
Business advantages of teamwork
Business leaders need to bring the right skills together to build a high performing team. Like a finely tuned engine, when all the components work well together, true synergy is achieved.
Maggie Wooll from BetterUp coaching highlights ten business advantages of teamwork:1
1. Brings new ideas
2. Helps solve problems
3. Motivates unity in the workplace
4. Builds morale
5. Promotes learning and development
6. Teams innovate faster
7. Teams self-monitor
8. Provides improved efficiency and productivity
9. Creates healthy competition
10. Promotes workplace synergy
Working together and building a strong team goes beyond business results. Stanford University research showed that people who perceived their work as a joint project with others had the following characteristics over a control group of individuals working alone: 2
- Persisted 48% to 64% longer on a challenging task
- Reported being more interested in the project
- Reported less project fatigue
- Became more “engrossed in the task”
- Had higher performance
Employees are also happier, more motivated and enjoy higher job satisfaction.
The enemies of teamwork
Even the best collaboration attempts can be thwarted by the enemies of teamwork. Watch out for these common problems:
Lack of a goal – True collaboration is teamwork that drives everybody towards a common goal. A ‘meeting’ is neither teamwork nor collaboration on its own. Ensure that everybody understands the short-term and long-term goals.
Quiet performers/strong personalities – Excellent contributions from quiet people can easily be missed. They may not feel confident speaking out, or strong personalities can dominate the conversation. Leaders should proactively seek out contributions from everybody and build a culture where failure is not feared. Encourage and involve every team member for the strongest collaboration results.
Office design – If the office has not been designed with opportunities for collaboration, people will have to make more effort to arrange formal get-togethers in meeting rooms. Clever office design makes it easy to collaborate both formally and informally.
Office fit-out – Collaboration can happen outside of meeting rooms. Team pods, breakout areas and courtyard/balcony work zones in the workplace fit-out will increase interactions and group time together.
Too many emails – Proper collaboration time requires a clear head. A cluttered inbox equals a cluttered mind. Be mindful of who really needs to be copied on an email. Install software that allows employees to turn off notifications and emails at certain times of day.
Outdated technology – If file sharing and video conferencing are important tools for your business, investment in good technology is paramount. Free file sharing software may seem attractive, but if people find it difficult to use or there are storage limitations, this can hamper proper teamwork.
How your workplace design and office fit-out can support collaboration
Create opportunities for informal collaboration throughout the office fit-out – The larger the organisation, the more important it is to create these opportunities. Consider how people move around the office. Having a primary wider aisle encourages people to take that path as they move around, increasing the likelihood of informal chats. Locate the breakout areas centrally so that more people utilise them. Include a mix of seating and tables in the breakout area fit-out so that short meetings can take place.
Ensure your office fit-out supports hybrid work patterns – With a mix of remote working and office days, the office design and technology need to work together for proper collaboration. Consider how best to include remote workers in meetings. Can they see the whiteboard or notes that are being used? Are their faces clearly visible to everybody in the meeting, or are they just a little square in the corner of a computer?
Breakout areas to improve social barriers – Personality, cultural and generational factors can interfere with collaboration. Getting to know co-workers on a personal level helps to build relationships. Lounge areas, booths, breakfast bars, courtyards and roof gardens are perfect breakout spaces within a workplace fit-out to encourage people to interact informally. Add feature walls, inspiring company branding, phone charging outlets and biophilic office 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.
For workplace design and fit-out ideas that help you be stronger together, please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692.
2.https://iands.design/articles/44953/designing-collaboration-post-covid citing from Parker, Clifton B. in https://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/september/motivation-walton-carr-091514.html