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Five ways to encourage collaboration in the workplace

In today’s fast-paced work environment social spaces that encourage collaboration, accidental interactions and informal meetings are increasingly important.  Here we identify a number of ways to encourage collaboration amongst your workforce.

1. Open plan offices 

In order to encourage collaboration in the workplace you must first break down the physical barriers that disrupt communication between employees.  Workspace design has become a science in it’s own right and it can be proven to play a big part in encouraging collaboration.  By creating the right open plan space for your business, with fewer private offices and lowered partitions, you can be sure to encourage more accidental interactions in the workplace.

2. Integrated technology

Technology is allowing us to be much more flexible at work.  By integrating minimal, wireless technology you can allow employees to be portable and move around the workspace without being restrained to the technology at their desks.

3. Coffee breaks

Traditional office refreshment solutions, such as vending machines and water coolers may be office cliches, but the true value of the interactions that can take place around the office coffee machine must not be underestimated.  Businesses have realised that informal interactions in such areas can be just as important as formal meetings.  Apparently Google have a ‘100 feet from food’ rule which means that wherever you are in the office you will always be within a short walk to grab a snack or a drink as you casually bump into your co-workers from different teams. The modern approach is to maximise on these collision zones by creating mini ‘cafe’ areas with soft seating, strategically placed within the office space rather than being hidden away next to the restrooms.  This new approach to office refreshments has been proven to be an invaluable anchor point for collaboration in the workplace.

4. Informal space

When designing an office it is important that all of the space isn’t taken up with rows and rows of formal desks.  Instead you must also consider offering some informal spaces that can be used at any time of day for short meetings, quiet working or as an area to collaborate with co-workers on new ideas.  By integrating informal spaces into the workspace design you can encourage workers to leave the confines of their desks depending on the given task at hand.

5. Lead by example

Encouraging collaboration through evolving workspace design and technology is one step, but employers must be prepared to lead by example to ensure the space is used in the way it has been designed.  Creating collaboration must be fully integrated into the flow of work and employers must trust their employees to fulfil their tasks even if they are not sitting at a desk staring at a screen for eight hours of the day.  You must also be prepared to adapt, change and listen to employees if you are to adopt a truly collaborative culture.

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