Collaboration is definitely a buzz word in office culture these days, but it is incredibly important to us at Jewel Toned Interiors, as it is one of our six core values. There are several ways that an office environment can be intentionally designed to be conducive to group work. The selection of furniture, space planning, and office culture area are all elements that work together to create a collaborative environment.
1. Space Planning
The layout of an office is the most essential aspect in designing for collaboration. Open floorplans are all the rage in both commercial and residential settings because they give people room to breathe and a feeling of accessibility along with providing a view of the space that is welcoming. Gone are the days of clients requesting cubicles with high walls and executives with corner offices. With the help of forward-thinking companies like Google and Amazon, office design has pushed the envelope and is now an experiential space where people have many different opportunities for interaction.
Office furniture can have a huge impact on the ability to provide a cooperative environment. We are amazed at how our new sit-stand desks are so much more appropriate to multiple person conversations than a traditional desk. When a team member approaches each of our desks to meet, we stand and hit a setting that allows the work surface to move up to a comfortable standing height. This is way more friendly and suitable than standing behind someone’s desk, peering over their shoulder at their computer screen.
With layouts becoming more open and work surfaces not set at one height, one issue that has arose arisen in office design is the need for acoustical privacy. As the cubicle walls came down, up came the volume of noise between colleagues. However, the design industry answered and many manufacturers came up with solutions that not only absorb sound waves but also provide visual interest. Acoustical solutions are being incorporated into art pieces, ceiling elements, and even lighting fixtures. In fact, we have a whole section of our materials library dedicated to them!
Yes, we are still talking about offices not restaurants! Booths or banquettes are being incorporated into the design of a variety of office settings. They are wonderful examples of how you can think outside the box with office design, and provide areas for employees to have small impromptu meetings without tying up a conference room. They provide a softer, more residential feel to working with one another which is another big plus for employee engagement. People who work within an office with multiple options for workspaces are happier employees as they are given choices and not limited by the constraints of the dimensions of their desks.
5. Office Culture
As designers we work with our clients to create incredible interiors that encourage new hires and strengthen the engagement of the existing workforce through space planning and specifications. However, it is up to the business owner and leadership team to take the concept of collaboration to the next level. An office environment that encourages creative thinking and promotes problem solving comes from the top down. The physical surroundings can only have so much of an effect on the way the business is operated. Collaboration is collective, not selective.