Increasing collaboration between colleagues and departments is a sure fire way to improve upon the productivity and overall performance of your workforce, allowing for the easier sharing of expertise and an efficient, creative approach to problem-solving. That being said too few offices are designed in such a way as to actively promote collaboration amongst the workforce, be that down to a lack of understanding, limited space, or insufficient budget. There are however many design techniques you can utilise in order to help in this regard, and not all of them have to break the bank or occupy vast areas of the office.

Floor Plan/Layout

We’ve spoken in the past about how the layout of your office environment can impact upon collaboration, pointing out how department-based layouts in particular seem to have a negative effect. In this regard it’s fairly safe to say that open-plan still reigns supreme, though you should try to provide variety throughout the working environment so as to cater to the varying preferences of individual employees.

While project teams working together on a regular basis will find benefit in being based in the same general area, you should be careful not to set the space out in a way that prevents collaboration with other departments; a common pitfall in modern office design. Instead, the focus should be on creating ‘collisions’ – not the painful, head-bumping kind; collisions in this sense refers to the instances where workers come into contact with one another, providing opportunity to communicate, collaborate and build healthy professional connections. Providing shared on-site facilities such as a shared kitchen, cafĂ©, printer or bins, will encourage the workforce to move and generate conversation between colleagues, which may just lead to the next big idea.

Flexible Seating and Breakout Spaces

While impromptu collisions throughout the working day will undoubtedly assist in terms of collaboration between colleagues, if these instances are to be fully capitalised upon then you need to ensure that you provide your workforce with dedicated breakout areas and other more casual shared environments. This will allow workers to gather and discuss ideas, while the addition of flexible seating options will allow them to tailor the space to their needs at the time, further enhancing this effect. You could also consider the use of writeable walls or large whiteboards in these areas, allowing colleagues to better collate their cumulative ideas.

Technology

The most obvious way that technology can help to generate collaborative action is via the wide array of professional communication apps and services now available, the most well-known among them arguably being Skype and Slack. Such software will certainly help, but other technologies such as interactive displays, electronic whiteboards and space management software will also better enable the workforce to locate, communicate, and collaborate with their colleagues in a productive manner.



Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. Currently working as Editor of Social Songbird, he hopes to one day drop that 'aspiring' prefix. Follow him @Songbird_Sam

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