The 1970’s and 80’s were domineered by the concept of isolation in the workplace as a way to increase both employee productivity and efficiency. The cubicle became the office environmental standard and have since filled the landscape of the classic office experience, much to the dismay of one of its co-creators, George Nelson, who in 1970 noted its “dehumanizing effect as a working environment.”
The open concept office space has predictably become the antithesis of the dreaded cubicle, but before office interior designers cast the concept away from usefulness, there’s always merit in weighing out all the pros and cons of design cues that nurture team collaboration. In this guide, we’ll discuss the top 4 tech office design ideas that promote collaboration and cooperation between colleagues.
Companies and organizations have always sought to solve the equation of perfect balance between open concept office space and the privacy provided by the cubicle and its contemporaries. Like many dichotomies, the debate circles back like a pendulum.
The Harvard Business Review notes in 1980, their research found 82% of employees in the US alone desired complete privacy to concentrate without distraction – then in the late 1990’s, 50% of employees wanted increased access to people, and another 40% wanted more interaction with their colleagues. Now, once again, HBR research shows evidence of the preference of privacy.
From an interior design standpoint, this inevitable swing in opinion dictates use of space that is capable of addressing multiple different opinions at any given time. In short, modern offices have to be able to accommodate both the proponents of open concept office culture, as well as supporters of smaller, more isolated spaces. Adaptability and flexibility from office designs will stand the test of time.
The integration of office dynamics with the realms of city planning and urban physics is making a serious impact in the way modern office environments are designed and constructed. Urban planners and physicists apply research that takes many variables to reimagine concepts like infrastructure efficiency; this concept can also have monumental effects when being used by office planners and interior designers – reinforcing meaning, belonging, and encouraging productivity, workplace satisfaction, and flow.
Office neighbourhoods allow for different types of spaces to cater to the needs of different employees working on different accounts and/or projects. For example, the Chicago Google office found that it’s employees went to a coffee shop when they were at their busiest, so the internet mega-giant constructed its own cafe space to help foster that same atmosphere in-house, producing peak productivity and cooperation at work.
Use open hubs and lounges to encourage interaction between employees where they can start conversations and meet. In these areas, consider outfitting the walls with whiteboard paint to transform these open collaborative areas into brainstorming atmosphere’s that promote cooperation. Spacious areas like these can also help give individuals the room they need to breathe in a busy tech office. Overcrowding has long been linked to poor performance and may be a direct contributor to the resurgence of pro-privacy design. Always develop buffer zones that allow people to spread out, focus, and do their work in peaceful solitude.
Alternatively, office neighbourhood design also should account for client and/or team meetings. A client should never be expected to have a conversation involving financial or proprietary plans in front of a swath of busy employees. These smaller, more private spaces need to have clear barriers so workers and/or clients can work and interact free from distraction. This idea of smaller hubs can also help to reinforce the identity of a particular department, establishing a sensation of community and unity, thus building an environment primed for collaboration.
Invest in Modularity
Modular systems are the holy grail of portable, flexible, and adaptive office environments. They offer both form and function by constantly changing to provide solutions to issues of focus, collaboration, privacy, and brainstorming.
Modular furniture, for example, can be added or removed to create a working space perfect for one employee, while another layout is perfect for the working style of a group trying to finalize the parameters of a big project. This ability to customize cost-effective and modular office spaces into the perfect solution for different working styles is arguably the primary benefit of a modular approach to tech office design.
Listen to the Employees
Liken this collaborative tip to allowing the inmates to control the asylum. When employees and team members are invited to collaborate on the design of an office space, the space becomes theirs. When the space is allowed to function as an extension of employee personality, culture, and community, people are encouraged to act and behave more naturally, in turn making them more approachable, more comfortable, and more creative; when this happens, the office environment will begin to build community.
Allow your employees to make the office theirs – let them bring in more personal items that give the office character – aside from the boost in energy and togetherness it will ultimately provide, these items are entirely free to the organization – they cost nothing, yet provide a distinct ROI that makes personalizing the office through introspection and collaboration a winner. Embracing employee ideas helps build a positive company culture that founded on respect and collaboration.
Nurturing team collaboration in a tech office is all about having the capacity to change gears and adapt to the unique project and personalities you have working together at any given moment. Integrating modular design with a purposeful balance of open concept and private spaces, as well as integrating the character and personality of your staff are all great ways to begin encouraging cooperation, interaction, and collaboration in the office environment.