The New Office Environment Encourages Collaboration

You might not know it yet, but the days of walking into work, grabbing a cup of coffee, strolling into your office and closing the door behind you may soon be a thing of the past.

Although people still spend approximately two-thirds of their day working individually, more so now than ever, businesses are relying on teamwork and creative collaboration to generate success.

As this collaborative approach to business continues to grow, the landscape of the typical office is evolving to reflect this change.

"As rigid thinking in the business world is replaced by office environments that rely on teamwork and dynamic participation, closed doors and individual spaces are slowly giving way to more open work areas that easily allow for group interaction," says John Boot, Gunlocke Vice President Product Design and Development.

"More and more businesses are carving out floor plans that address the need for collaboration among employees."

At the same time, today’s companies are also aware that office comfort and well-thought-out workplace design can have significant impact on individual productivity and concentration levels. Employees are continually being asked to do more with less. Work pressures are increasing as a growing number of employees across a wide-range of job classifications are expected to work longer hours and significantly increase their productivity.

So, it’s no secret that employees want to be comfortable and care greatly about their work environment.

Just how much do they care?

According to an independent 2006 U.S. Workplace Survey conducted on behalf of Gensler, a global design, planning and strategic consulting firm, design does matter.

Sixty-five percent of workers asked said that the design and layout of their workplace is "extremely" or "very" important to them. And, more than ninety-percent surveyed said the quality of their working environment affects their attitude about their work.

The bottom line, companies have their work cut out for them.

Forward thinking companies need to allocate dedicated space for collaboration while taking into consideration individual employee’s needs. Keeping this in mind, many of them are providing employees with teaming and collaboration space in combination with nearby, open individual work areas. This collaborative space might be off to one side, or in some cases centrally located in the middle of the individual work spaces.

Other companies are exploring the idea of maintaining private offices while also creating relaxed, informal areas to spur spontaneous and informal collaborative sessions, such as office cafes and recreational areas.

These spaces are easily accessible by all employees and meant to excite and inspire, rather than dull the senses.

Another new focus is on providing formal and informal conferencing space that is user friendly and able to integrate the most up-to-date technology as easily and effectively as possible. Many times project work takes place in a traditional conference room, but increasingly it may be held in nontraditional areas, such as an employee’s personal office.

In order to adapt, companies have begun utilizing mobile furniture, AV carts and whiteboards, such as those found in the new Converge Conference Room Furniture Collection by Gunlocke.

Looking forward, as technology evolves and the need for creative collaboration expands, businesses will continue to be challenged to provide office environments that not only facilitate the lively exchange of ideas, but also protect the individual employee’s privacy and ability to concentrate.

Every company should keep in mind that good, sound office space design should make for happy workers which, in turn, creates a more productive, successful business.






New Office Environments Encourage Job Collaboration