Blog / 17 August 2017

Develop physical spaces that are open and collaborative to work and relax

In the sixth of 10 tips inspired by our Future of Work report Mapping the Digital Future, we look at developing collaborative physical spaces that inspire people to create, learn and boost productivity.

If you want to get the most out of your employees, create a space that they look forward to coming into every morning.

Peter Fuhrmann, an office design contractor with 25 years of experience, says offices should be built with openness in mind. “Creating paths for chance meetings is critical to ensuring that people are connecting and interacting with each other, while having a private space to retreat to.”

For example, Google’s New York HQ thrives on removing psychological barriers to interaction. Various innovations have sprung from seemingly chance office encounters, such as the Google Art Project.

Breakout spaces are a great example of a small area that can make a potentially big change. Employees can retire to a nook or corner for an impromptu meeting.

“When you start a conversation when you’re at the coffee machine, you can quickly sit down after and have a 20-minute meeting,” says Miguel McKelvey, co-founder and chief creative officer of co-working office space WeWork, in an interview with Fast Company. “If you have to reserve a conference room to finish that conversation, then you lose time. It’s not efficient.”

Jon Fredrik Baksaas, the CEO of the Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor, says he sees his office space not as a piece of real estate, but as a communication tool.

“The Future of Work belongs to those who can blend cultures of collaboration with diverse ways of thinking and doing,” says Phil Smith, Chairman of Cisco UK and Ireland. “Companies must create fluid, dynamic teams that provide new viewpoints and skills. Equally, they must seek opportunities through partnerships and networking.”

The potential benefits of creating a collaborative workplace are huge. A chance encounter could change everything. Do not let the geography of your office become an afterthought. If you can’t change the physical space, try to make your office as inviting as possible. Bring plants and greenery inside. Provide free snacks and fruit bowls. The more your employees want to be in the office, the more they’re likely to do their best work.

Learn even more about digital and workforce transformation by catching up with previous articles from the Freeformers Changing the Future of Work Mindset Top 10 Tips:

  1. Why you must start at the top to change the Future of Work mindset
  2. Create a collaborative culture to embrace digital transformation togethe
  3. Your company’s survival depends on digital transformation
  4. Encourage reverse mentoring between different sets of skills and knowledge
  5. Reward people with a digital mindset

To read more from the Mapping the Digital Future report, download it here. We’d love to hear what you think about developing open and collaborative spaces, so to find out more about Freeformers or give us your opinions, email futureofwork@freeformers.com or leave a comment below.