Building Relationships, Productivity, and Wellbeing with Collaborative Workspaces
The majority of organizations struggle to facilitate collaboration, brainstorming, and innovation. Much debate exists around what type of office space enables workers to achieve the highest rates of productivity while sustaining high levels of collaboration.
There is a compelling reason for entrepreneurs to businesses to consider collaborative workspaces. Research shows that workers who have access to collaborative workspaces are 20% more productive than their counterparts who do not. A long list of companies has embraced open office design on the basis that it facilitates collaboration—Facebook, Google, and LivePerson, to name just a few.
Yet, at the same time, research shows that open office design has its downsides—and that when employed as the exclusive office space model, individuals and organizations simply fail to achieve the advertised promises of open office settings. A study by Harvard Business School, for example, found that open office workers crave less social contact and choose to send more emails and instant messages. The same study also discovered that both worker productivity and the quality of their work declined. Other studies link higher stress, conflict, high blood pressure, and job turnover with open office architectures.
So, where does that leave us? Research data seems to support both positions. Rather than being an “either/or” answer, the best argument may be somewhere in the middle. Herein, the answer is hybrid models—workspace configurations in which workers are given both a dedicated space where they can focus without interruption and workspaces where collaboration is fostered.
Psychological analysis of work confirms this conclusion. Recent studies on the psychological dimensions of workspace architecture lists collaboration as the number one priority of workers, followed by privacy as number two. In sum, productive work must balance between “me” and “we” and account for the fact that personality profiles vary between individuals—namely, one office environment may be productive and collaborative for one group of personalities but not for a different group.
As workspace dynamics change for workers—entrepreneurs, to small businesses, to enterprises—the balancing act between collaboration and privacy, productivity and wellbeing must be factored into consideration. And with many entrepreneurs and small businesses opting out of permanent office space in favor of on-demand office space and enterprises increasingly offering employees and contractors the option of coworking spaces and working remotely, the complexities of navigating workspace dynamics are more and more difficult.
For entrepreneurs and businesses with work-from-home policies and those that use on-demand office space, following are some key factors they need to consider in order to promote collaboration, productivity, and wellbeing:
Workspace Is Dynamic.
A one-size-fits-all approach is deficient. Sitting in one workspace constrains collaboration and productivity—not to mention the health and mental wellbeing of professionals. Rather, work is dynamic, and this demands dynamic workspace: Workers may need focused, private time for part of the day but desire collaborative interactions with different team members or teams the remainder of the day. In the case of coworking space, professionals may welcome the opportunity to connect with other businesses and entrepreneurs who are also in the same space once or twice a week but need time in their home offices on other days of the week. A study by Gallup corroborates the above: Workers who are given the freedom to move around to different areas are 1.3x more likely to be engaged as compared to other workers.
Collaborative Coworking Space.
Much has been written about coworking space and how it facilitates collaboration between team members and other occupants. Coworking is not a new idea; the concept dates back to painters, sculptors, architects, engineers, and scientists in 15th-century Florence who met together to collaborate, learn, and improve on their ideas. The communal connections professionals develop in coworking spaces aid in recruiting, innovation, problem-solving, and business partners. Collaborative workspace also facilitates higher levels of engagement: 1.5x per the above Gallup study.
Private Office Space.
Not every on-demand office provider offers multiple workspace configurations. This is where the one-size-fits-all model may not work—particularly for professionals who need time alone. This is where day offices—that can be rented by the hour, half day, or full day are important. coworking space. This give professionals private and collaborative workspace that is clearly demarcated. They can finish a business-critical presentation in a couple hours in the morning in a day office and transition to a coworking space to brainstorm and collaborate with their broader team.
With numerous entrepreneurs and businesses typically occupying a coworking space, their open environment is not always the most appropriate setting for team members. Further, the same applies to customer and partner meetings or meetings with the businesses accounting firm or legal representative.
Accoutrements for Collaboration.
Whether a coworking space or conference room, collaboration often requires a lobby greeter who can direct everyone to the right resources, business services for faxing and photocopying, catering services, and much more. This also requires the appropriate presentation and collaboration tools—whiteboards, video conferencing, etc.
Businesses that fail to adopt to the realities of the new workforce will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage—from recruiting and retaining top talent to innovating and evolving their businesses. The outcome is quite simple; professionals are most engaged when given choice and control over where and how they work. This is where solutions such as Davinci Meeting Rooms that offer multiple office spaces that come with business services, lobby greeters, and much more are a great starting point.