These days, collaborative workspaces such as coworking spaces are fast growing in popularity. Though many tend to associate collaborative workspaces with freelancers and remote workers, they are also becoming the work environment of choice for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups, as they inspire innovation through direct connection.
It wasn’t long ago that our workspace design was focused primarily on the individual. On the heels of more recent changes in how we communicate and collaborate – both online and via our connected devices – the idea of a conventional office has been diminished in favor of environments that foster collaboration.
According to a study published by industry thought leaders Steelcase, the ability to increase innovative activity is directly related to three main concepts:
1. The workspace should support flexibility
To best support innovation, a collaborative workspace needs to be truly flexible. Moveable furniture groupings, different types of seating, items such as sculpture that breaks up the room, and portable aids such as white boards, easels, and tables or desks that can be adjusted for height. These elements allow users to configure the space as they need it, allowing them to work the way that best suite them, and not having to fit into somebody else’s pre-conceived and potentially awkward office design.
2. Space that is comfortable is also inspirational
Natural lighting, views of outdoor areas, and high ceilings are all elements that stimulate creative thinking. Access to technology, innovative art, and plenty of focal points to engage the visual sense add to the aura of creativity, helping workers to envision a future that looks different. Workspaces that offer moderate ambient noise levels – as opposed to high noise or no noise at all – are optimum for fostering creativity.
Temperature that is neither too warm nor too cold helps also, and although this tends to be a very individual preference for many people, keeping the thermostat hovering in between 70 – 75˚F seems to be a good baseline. Any colder and you will be expending more energy simply keeping warm, taking away the attention and energy needed to come up with newer, greater ideas. Keep in mind, too, that as the temperature goes up, attention tends to drop.
3. Workspace that supports culture supports collaboration
A collaborative culture can be best emphasized and supported through workspace design. If innovation is connected to collaboration, and collaboration is connected to engagement, the workplace itself should be engaging of its culture. For instance, if employees are working in an environment that recalls a company’s past accomplishments and instills a sense of pride in how they have impacted other geographies, it will support the desire to engage in future achievements, and perhaps impel them to take risks. Whether the workspace is dedicated to one single company or accommodating a multitude, high-impact collaborative work environments need to minimize individual work spaces and emphasize easy-to-change environments and open spaces. This allows for a higher degree of experimentation and expressions of individuality, which in turn inspire innovation.
Office Suites Strategies: inspiring innovation
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