“Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are entirely revamping their space around the fact that employees are already mobile,” says Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, a consulting and research firm.
Instead of wasting real estate on desks that frequently sit unused, many organizations are turning away from traditional office plans and building flexible, reconfigurable workspaces designed to meet the needs of today’s mobile workforce and taking advantage of new technologies while providing users with environments conducive to improved collaboration and overall performance.
“The best results come from a mix of spaces that provide areas for concentration, collaboration, learning and socializing,” says Lister.
What constitutes the ideal digital workspace?
It goes without saying that everything begins with technology: digital workplaces need infrastructure that supports mobile workers. With a robust wireless network to provide users with access to enterprise resources as they move around the workplace. A bring-your-own-device policy. Hot-desking capability. Voice, video, text and content-sharing tools. But that’s just the beginning.
The ideal digital workspace should maximize the likelihood of chance encounters between workers.
Says Joel Ratekin of Gresham, Smith and Partners, an architecture, engineering and interior planning firm, “Inflexible and insufficient technologies, rooms and furnishings prevent workers from achieving management’s demand for higher performance”. He adds that “Increasing the number of employee chance collisions can actually be more important than attributes such as individual productivity or creativity”.
Flexibility is really the king of the digital workspace. Spaces with movable and reconfigurable furnishings encourage spontaneity, allowing colleagues the freedom to work in clusters or off on their own, according to their immediate needs.
Other important elements include pleasant natural lighting and exterior or atrium views to stimulate and sustain creative thinking. Bright colors replace institutional beige to boost morale while break rooms and mini-gyms motivate today’s demanding workers who expect – and deserve – more from a job than a desk, a phone and a PC.
The benefits of collaborative workspaces for employees – and employers
In a competitive marketplace, workplace interiors play a pivotal role in attracting and retaining talent, particularly among Millennials and Generation Z. Because when the culture of a company is reflected in its interior, it strengthens the company’s brand. By introducing innovative design elements and aesthetics, corporate strategy can be rejuvenated, and both older and younger generations can be motivated to attain higher engagement levels with the organization.
But on a more basic level, collaborative workspaces give teams the opportunity to work with each other and strive toward common goals and objectives. Moreover, these kinds of work environments foster
friendship and camaraderie within the workplace, a non-negligible advantage in a world where many traditional cubicle-type office workers feel isolated.
Working alongside people from different fields and different backgrounds can bring fresh perspectives to problems. Colleagues in a collaborative setting are able to look at issues and challenges and tackle them from new and unexpected angles. A collaborative workspace that allows for the sharing of ideas will ultimately benefit the entire company.
And one of the most important benefits of collaborative workspaces is that they’re conducive to efficiency and productivity. Collaborative environments tend to bring out the best in individuals and in groups. In a study by the Harvard Business Review on thriving at the workplace, professionals who worked in collaborative spaces scored 6 out of a possible 7 points – a full point higher than their cubicle-dwelling counterparts. It’s definitely time for companies to start thinking outside of that dusty old box.