Collaboration in the workplace is critical, and office space plays an important part of fostering these crucial working relationships.
A lot of today’s work is done in teams. Regardless of the type of business you run, it’s likely that your employees have to work together to achieve success, whether it's winning contracts, making sales, or performing services.
Before the proliferation of technology, the only way to collaborate was to talk on the phone or hold in-person meetings. Now, Skype, GoToMeeting, and other web-hosted services make it possible for people all over the world to meet and collaborate without leaving the comfort of their offices.
But while this is possible, it’s not always necessary or even helpful. Oftentimes the only workers who need to collaborate are the ones who come into the same office every day.
What’s the best way to cultivate good office collaboration among these types of workers?
Set up Office Space for Collaboration
The first step is how you organize your office space. Your choices can vary tremendously depending on the type of work your business does. For instance, you may want workstations arranged in small groups so that team members can discuss strategy and progress while they work.
But this isn’t helpful in all cases. Sometimes it works better to have a meeting room where team members can come together, and smaller spaces where they can break off to work independently. Too much togetherness can cause distractions and hinder progress.
How much time should your employees spend collaborating?
Play Together, Stay Together
It can be hard to pinpoint, and it varies, but many businesses have found providing distractions in a controlled environment to be helpful. For instance, big, successful companies have made the concept of having games like foosball in break rooms popular. Not only are diversions like this helpful for employee productivity, but they can improve employee relationships as well.
Spending time together outside of work helps employees form bonds with each other. This is good for workplace collaboration, and it’s why you see some companies forming employee sports teams or sending their workers on retreats. Every experience they have together — good or bad — forms an individual bond, and they become closer.
If your break room has the space, stock it with games, and include some that can be played in teams.
Office Space + Office Environment
But it’s not just the physical environment that matters — it’s the emotional environment too. Many workplaces reward individual achievement over shared accomplishments. These companies may foster competition intentionally or inadvertently, but the result is the same — reduced collaboration and skewed productivity.
If your business is sales and you must measure individual accomplishments, consider setting up the employees in teams. Although everyone will undoubtedly still know each salesperson’s numbers, the focus will be shifted to spreading the accomplishments — and the failures — out among team members.
Combine top sellers in groups with those who struggle. Encourage mentoring as well. You will see more improvement when your best performers help train weaker employees than you will pitting them against each other.
Working Together Outside the Office Space
Collaboration by definition is sharing ideas. It’s a common tool in the workplace, but sometimes it isn’t enough. Workers are necessarily mostly from the same geographic area. They might have gone to the same schools and may have had many similar experiences.
For this reason, it’s important to promote collaboration with those in your industry but outside of your office. This might mean bringing together workers from different bureaus or sending employees to conferences where they can get new and fresh ideas.
Metro Offices can help your employees collaborate better by providing the office space you need. Whether you require temporary office space, a rented meeting room or a suite, we can help you. We have several locations throughout the DMV area — we are wherever you need us to be. Call Metro Offices today and find out what our office spaces can do for you.