Some definitions for you:
Collaboration: A group of people who explore their ideas together, often to find a solution or to achieve a goal. In other words, teamwork.
Distraction: Something (or a colleague) that prevents you from concentrating on your work or a specific task.
Above are two different words with two different meanings, yet within a workplace environment, they’re being blended together, resulting in some believing that collaboration is overrated. Unlike distraction, collaboration is one of four ‘work modes’ or workplace pillars.
Gensler’s four work modes are focus, collaborate, learn, and socialise after they discovered a positive connection between them, employee engagement and company performance.
To walk into an open-plan office with a large kitchen and various other communal spaces full of people not only suggests but screams a sociable office. Sociability means collaboration. Staff who are proactive in engaging with their colleagues are usually the best communicators and regularly share their ideas with the team - even if they’re in separate departments.
Communal meeting and lounge areas add freedom to the office and release the pressure of having to sit at a desk for the whole day, essentially blocking all creative thoughts. An open-plan office benefits this type of work style as it encourages movement and conversation.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are the more reserved workers who prefer a quieter atmosphere with minimal noise levels. An open-plan office may even hinder their work performance and willingness to involve themselves in conversation, which is why Gensler’s four work modes are worth considering during the design phase.
An office needs the perfect balance - according to Gensler’s study, workplaces that were designed to incorporate collaboration without sacrificing focus were more productive and successful. Take Macro Sea’s abandoned Brooklyn warehouse turned New Lab co-working space.
Macro Sea and Marvel Architects transformed an old warehouse into a co-working space for tech entrepreneurs and start-ups. Facilities include offices, private studios and lofts, as well as shared spaces like lounges, communal worktables and meeting areas. The more private areas are located in the building’s wings, while communal, noisier spaces sit towards the central axis. This layout perfectly positions collaboration and focus within one giant office space, so members can benefit from both without sacrifice. For more methods of how to balance collaboration with concentration, click here to one of our other articles.
Put simply, here are the main perks stemming from collaboration:
1. Improves communication, sharing and relationships.
2. Increases creativity and ‘outside the box’ thinking.
3. Speeds up operations and efficiency of tasks.
4. Strengthens teamwork behaviour and positivity.
Some have opposing views, believing that collaboration slows down productivity and burns out the top employees. If managed correctly, this will not happen. It’s down to more senior roles in the business to organise their team to avoid extra weight, assign the workload to the right employees and make sure that time is used effectively.
Designing an office which incorporates all four work modes is one thing, but technology is what will bring them to life. Collaboration technology includes video, audio and content sharing such as Lifesize and Fuze, social media and mobile applications such as Slack - all to speed up operations and improve communication. For example, you might be part of a team that’s spread across several time zones. In order to remain efficient, early morning calls or late evening meetings might be a regular occurrence, but that doesn’t have to mean being chained to your desk until the early hours. The rise in remote working and improved connectivity means collaboration can work its magic, and video meetings or calls can happen anywhere at any time. By migrating to the cloud, employees will have access to share and collaborate content - while maintaining high levels of control, privacy and security. Win-win for everyone.
Within the past ten years, there has been a major, futuristic shift in office design to incorporate collaboration. This trend probably started from employees wanting to break away from the norm and is now is being driven by entrepreneurs who want maximum creativity and flexibility in their office environment. They, along with more and more every year are realising that collaboration and distraction are two very different words - only one is needed in the business world. To get in touch for how you can pump collaboration into your office, have a chat with us!
Written by Catherine Robinson
Catherine Robinson, Author at Viastak Technologists.