Make the most of any shared workspace
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Whether your team consists of four employees working in a front office or 50 workers in a vast cubicle space, shared office spaces have their issues. Here are a few simple ways to ensure employees get the most out of their work environment.
Post some etiquette
Don't wait for an office move or an employee complaint, any shared space should have clear ground rules. And it is never too late to roll them out. Even if the team has been working this way for years, setting or re-establishing guidelines to support productivity in shared spaces is a critical first step.
To ensure successful buy-in, actively facilitate the conversation. Provide topics and questions for each employee to answer and submit before the meeting. For example, start with categories for input like odors, noise level and work style. Then, ask some guiding questions about how the employee likes to work, the pros and cons of the current workspace and suggestions.
Compile the answers and use those as discussion points for a conversation about creating a workspace that really supports the employees. Then, use the information from the questionnaire and the conversation to craft a workspace etiquette memo.
Knoll, a pioneer in office furniture for open spaces, provides a great guide for this process and the memo.
Use what you have
Even if your team has no plans to move or remodel, take some time to evaluate the effectiveness of the current space, considering both collaboration and privacy. When reviewing the workspace for productivity, consider landing somewhere between a wide-open plan and everyone has an office.
Hybrid models offer more than just conference and break rooms for shared space. In their work "Innovation Spaces: The New Design of Work," Julie Wagner and Dan Watch explore research, insights and trends around creating cutting-edge workspaces.
Though the open-space concept is clearly here to stay, many organizations are focused on creating spaces that "strike a balance." From glass conference rooms to free noise-canceling headphones, even the most innovative companies are finding ways to support the diverse needs of employees.
To increase collaboration, foster more informal work conversations or encourage spontaneous teamwork, consider restyling common or open areas into collaboration spaces. Specifically, the break room can become an extra teamwork space by adding it to the shared calendar as a bookable conference room (just be sure to block out lunch times); adding some comfortable seating and a white board or two.
Open, vacant spaces, lobbies, little-used waiting rooms and empty offices can also be transformed in this manner. The idea is to take active control and purposely create a collaborative workspace.
On the other hand, almost everyone needs a little privacy at some point during the workday. Whether it is a confidential call or just a little alone time, carving out designated areas for privacy will benefit any employees who work in a shared workspace.
Thus, if the one thing your current workspace is lacking is walls, then consider using plants, privacy screens or a corner cubicle to create a physically separate space. Then, note the ground rules for using the space and, if needed, provide a sign that indicates it is being actively used.
The bottom line is with some open conversation, a few ground rules and active management, shared office spaces of any size can be productive and support a wide range of work styles.
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