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Office Space

The Key to Inspiring Innovation Through Your Office Space

Inspiring innovation is always something employers are trying to factor in to each working day. So read below on how utilizing office spaces can help and be beneficial to your employees.

 

It seems far-fetched to associate innovation with office spaces, especially given that the generic image conjured in each of our minds when we think of the typical office space is the kind of place where innovation goes to die – cordoned by grey cubicle walls, drenched in awful white light, and built for hive-like efficiency.

 

But the space we work in is integral to the work we do, and how we do it. Our workplaces and office spaces can be bountiful sources of inspiration, if built to facilitate it. The keys are flexibility, framework, and freedom.

 

But reconciling these features with a space that still improves productivity and adheres to modern-day safety policies in a post-pandemic world can be challenging. Let’s define how office spaces can help inspire innovation in our day-to-day work.

 

Flexibility

 

Workplace flexibility is a quality that can be interpreted in different ways. A flexible office is one that can be transformed and adapted to serve multiple needs and purposes.

 

It is a modular office, one that provides what is needed for the perfect setup but does not presuppose what that setup might look like. Allowing for that level of flexibility without completely devolving into a chaotic setup that leaves everyone confused as to where to work requires a design approach that provides a natural framework for how spaces and furniture are meant to be setup, while leaving room for creativity to help fill in the rest.

 

An example would be a common area with multiple seating arrangements and different kinds of furniture, several outlets, movable chairs, sofas, and tables, and plenty of space to move between them. This encourages people to congregate and separate as needed and use a large and open common space to collaborate and interact between tasks, or lounge while looking for inspiration.

 

Outside of the common area would be the individual, private spaces – conference and meeting rooms, smaller offices, and rooms set up for small teams to work together, or for individuals to take a break from others. Booths that exist between these separated rooms and common areas give workers the option to work alone while still being in an atmosphere surrounded by others.

 

Flexibility is a concept that moves beyond the workplace as well and minimize restrictions while adhering to social distancing rules. Encouraging employees to work from anywhere, including coworking spaces, cafes, the main office, or home, can give workers the option to decide which space best complements the work they’re about to do.

 

Framework

 

Flexibility is only a boon when an established ruleset exists. Otherwise, like muscles without bones, it all just collapses into itself.

 

Office setups meant to boost innovation are supposed to help workers surround themselves with the environment that best fits their needs that day – a room with a view, a common space among others, the atmosphere of a café, some quiet time at home, or a brainstorming session with the team in a private meeting space.

 

A proper and innovative office space framework builds around popular concepts such as the hub-and-spoke model to create a variety of spaces for companies and people to move between depending on their creative and productive needs, including the main office and satellite offices such as coworking spaces. Only through a robust framework can flexibility shine.

 

Freedom

 

Freedom permeates the concept of innovative and effective office spaces by avoiding preset styles and instead encouraging companies and teams to freely build around a loose framework. But freedom is also an important part of fostering innovation by encouraging office spaces to reflect each employee’s needs to manage their own work and play time.

 

Play is an established part of the creative process. Rather than being antithetical to work, the importance of play in developing unique and innovative ideas is recognized and implemented in offices and workspaces around the world, including renowned tech companies like Google and Dropbox.

 

Again, framework plays a role here – employees are encouraged to manage their time and utilize the space around them as a source of inspiration, but are still expected (and incentivized) to bring results to the table, and focus effectively on work over leisure.

 

Play is a restorative activity in this sense, much like an afternoon nap or a nature break. Restorative activities can help reinvigorate and prepare us for new tasks and refocus between endeavors.

 

 

Hard Boundaries and Soft Rules

 

Creating and utilizing an office space that inspires innovation requires the right balance of hard boundaries and soft rules. There are still standards to keep – deadlines to meet, work that must get done, policies that go unbroken, and a divide between common and private spaces, where employees are encouraged to interact and cooperate, or huddle and focus, as a group or alone.

 

But between the hard boundaries and clear lines are gradients and soft rules, suggestions and arrangements – furniture, toys, break spaces, coffee machines, snack bars, large open spaces and tables meant to bring people together and make in-office conversation inevitable.

 

These invite creativity and customizability, to encourage workers to make themselves comfortable and mold their own ideal space with the options at hand, in every sense.

 

The Collection emphasizes this blend of flexibility, framework, and freedom in its coworking spaces, providing community amenities and an open common space to emphasize collaboration and encourage innovation between tenants and company members, while also offering a variety of individual spaces blocked off from one another with noise reduction features and natural light.

 

Safety and Security

 

Office spaces must adhere to current rules regarding social distancing and basic personal protection to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

 

Coworking spaces are well-equipped to handle these policies by providing a variety of private rooms with individual ventilation, modular common areas that can easily be adapted to social distancing rules, a reception ideal for screening workers for temperature and symptoms, and the ability to employ roving cleaning teams to keep the space safe and disinfected between uses.

 

As companies continue to operate partly via remote work and partly via de-densified office spaces, coworking spaces and other flexible working arrangements will play a long-term role in reducing harm and providing greater safety in a post-pandemic world.


Read More:

7 Ways to Foster Creativity and Innovation (and Why You Need To)

Categories
Work Environment

Employer Branding: What Is It and How Can It Grow Your Business?

A company’s provided service or product is important, but a company’s employer branding is even more important for long-time success. Read more below, including how this special aspect can grow your business.

 

Nearly everything has a metric. Even employer reputation, and how it affects a company’s chances of securing top talent. Data shows that most workers – up to 86 percent – would not apply for or continue to work for a company with a bad reputation, either among the public, or among former employees.

 

While the importance of a company’s reputation has never been higher than in the age of social media, where every product and service is at the mercy of the opinions and influence levels of the customers who have had experience with them, a company’s reputation among its employees is equally important, if not more so.

 

Your employer branding, which represents how your employees perceive your company and how they rate their experiences while working with and for you, can be key to gaining and retaining talent, building a productive company culture, and avoiding bank-breaking controversy.

 

Defining the Employer Brand

 

At its most basic, a brand as a concept is a way to distinguish one service provider or product from another. The more your brand can separate itself from the competition in a positive way – through better quality, a better experience, a better reputation – the more likely you are to take control of the local, regional, and even international market.

 

The same concept applies to hires and long-time employees. Your brand’s identity at work and to the people who work with you is important as both an incentive, and security. Positive employer branding means people want to work with and/or for you, to the point that they’d take a position at a company with better employer branding for lower pay.

 

When things do get rough, having a great employer brand can help you keep your talent around. They know that it’s worth wading through a crisis together to help the company survive, than simply take the opportunity to jump ship and find a better place to work. But building an employer brand is a different process from customer-facing branding.

 

Building a Better Brand in 2020

 

When top talent looks for a place to work, they want their value to be recognized. They want good incentives, including great pay and benefits. But they also want a work environment that they can be excited about.

 

And when they’ll ask around to learn more about what it’s like to work at your company, they won’t just be interested in your products and services, but they’ll want to hear about day-to-day management, workplace culture, work philosophies, and the company’s ambitions and values.

 

They want to get a sense of what it’s like to be part of the team. And if that experience doesn’t sound appealing or doesn’t make for a very good story, then your employer branding is lacking.

 

Creating a strong employer brand requires a multi-faceted approach. Some things you want to be aware of include:

 

  • Understanding who you want to attract, and what it is that might attract them.
  • Creating and supporting a compelling narrative on the company’s values and mission.
  • Figuring out how your existing employees feel through tools like Glassdoor.
  • Keeping tabs on how the competition builds their employer brand.
  • Generating branding through shared employee experiences.
  • Developing an effective onboarding process.
  • Prioritizing personal and career growth and constant learning.

 

With the advent of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, a successful employer brand will also include a forward-thinking and adaptive approach toward the difficulties of the crisis. This means offering innovative flexible working conditions, a widescale adoption of cutting-edge communications tools and policies, and a speedy retrofitting of all existing office space to accommodate new workplace requirements and create a safe and secure workspace.

 

While a lot of employer branding relies on utilizing your own means to create a better employee experience, not every company has the means to invest heavily in creating safer workspaces. However, that’s where companies can turn to coworking spaces, and leverage their services to fortify their employer branding, with a focus on flexibility and safety.

 

Coworking places like The Collection help small to medium businesses opt for safe and flexible working conditions during and after the pandemic. They make for an excellent way to transition into a work-from-anywhere workplace policy.

 

Coworking spaces are also an excellent option for larger companies seeking to minimize costs as they transition into a hub-and-spoke model (based on hub-and-spoke distribution), without compromising workplace benefits or eating into their employee’s expectations of a convenient and welcoming workspace.

 

 

Live and Breathe Your Brand 

 

Customers spend time and money on your products and services. They expect quality on par with what they’ve invested. A successful business will go above and beyond those expectations and develop a relationship with a customer rooted in a product or service that is much better than the competition. And a customer experience that continues to outperform the rest.

 

But building a brand around that quality, and catering to a loyal customer base, is very different than building an employer brand.

 

Where your customers spend some time and money on your brand, your employees spend an inordinate amount of their time working to bring those results to the table.

 

Not only do they want to be appreciated and paid, but they want a company culture that reflects how they feel about their work – a sense of pride for quality, dedication to the end product or service, and a workplace they can be happy about. All of that requires a genuine relationship between the employer and the employee.

 

While marketing and a strong customer-facing reputation can mitigate the impact of a product’s weaknesses on a brand or minimize the drawbacks of an earlier-than-planned rollout, there’s no point obfuscating anything between a worker and their boss.

 

Employees know how a company operates better than anyone else, and any employer branding that doesn’t match the day-to-day reality and experiences in and out of the office will come off as disingenuous and condescending.

 

The worst thing you can do is try to sell your brand to your workers without the substance and culture to back up your material. It might work when it comes to attracting new hires – but if you plan on keeping them around, your employer branding should shed light on how great it really is to work at a company like yours.

 

Final Thought

 

Building your employer brand to attract and keep talent is a long-term process, one that requires identifying what your workers need, communicating often enough to ensure that they feel heard, and fostering a workplace culture and environment that makes your business the best place to work in town.

 

Categories
Work Environment

7 Tips to Improve Digital Communication While Remote

How can you grow a stronger team while working remote? By always improving the digital communication between each other. Read for some tips below.

 

With no clear end to the current crisis in sight, it’s likely that remote work will continue to play an important role in keeping non-essential workers healthy while they continue to do their jobs from home, or from safe and sanitized satellite offices. An important part of enabling continued remote work is strong digital communication.

 

Digital communication will remain the backbone for businesses seeking to thrive and grow during this pandemic, as well as after it. As we continue to look toward the near future with increased workplace flexibility in mind, finding ways to leverage current and upcoming communications technologies to make it easier and more convenient to cooperate remotely will be key.

 

Managers and leaders need to pick platforms that are easy to use and avoid overwhelming their employees with too many tools, systems, and messages, while current employees will need to learn how to best communicate with the platforms they’ve chosen, while onboarding new hires and integrating them seamlessly into the company communications network.

 

But navigating the new normal can be challenging, particularly when it feels like the sudden shift towards remote work has been especially hard due to cluttered, overwhelming, and disorganized communication. Making the most of digital communication tools is about more than just picking the right platform.

 

Here are some important tips.

 

1. Pick a Consistent and Effective Communications Platform 

 

Stick to the fewest possible number of communications platforms to enable you to do two things well: group communication and individual communication. To that end, pick a platform everyone is at least partially familiar with, or one people know for its shallow learning curve.

 

Make sure you can host clean one-on-one video calls, and effective group meetings. Pick a platform that lets you organize group chats, and effectively integrate collaborate tools such as Google Docs.

 

And finally, accept that email still isn’t going away for some time, so don’t try to replace it – and find a platform that exclusively fills the gaps where email fails, particularly in regards to instant messaging, group communication, voice, and video. Having too many platforms and avenues for communication can make it difficult to keep track of conversations, find files and topics, and get in touch with the person you’re trying to reach.

 

2. Always Schedule One-on-One Calls for Important Matters

 

Avoid hiding critical messages or important meetings in emails. Develop a clear and simple system for prioritizing messages, so when a message comes through on the appropriate channels, its importance is clear.

 

Something that needs to be addressed via a direct message might be much more urgent than an email, while something mentioned offhandedly or with a direct tag/mention in the group chat is probably more casual, or even off-topic.

 

But when something requires immediate attention or a prepared and nuanced conversation, schedule a call. Too much information is lost in chat or voice calls – make it face-to-face.

 

3. Consolidate Messages and Cut Cluttered Conversations

 

There’s little use in sending a dozen emails a day when there is so much else to do during the day.

 

It’s better to consolidate important or relevant topics for the day or week in a single long email at the beginning or end of the day or week, unless it’s an urgent message – in which case a direct message would be more appropriate, to convey urgency.

 

Learning to cut through the clutter and make it immediately clear when something should be responded to immediately and when it can wait (via something as intuitive as the delivery of the message) can help you avoid miscommunication and wasted time.

 

4. Make It Clear When a Response is (and isn’t) Needed

 

Emails can be notorious examples of miscommunication, particularly in cases where it isn’t immediately clear when a response is needed or not needed. This goes for any other messages, as well.

 

Consider making it clear in the body of an email or message if you need a response or not, so the recipient can be clear on whether they should respond immediately, respond later, or get to work and let you know when something relevant has changed or occurred.

 

5. Set Schedules for Communication 

 

Living in a mostly remote world has its advantages, but it also has significant drawbacks, especially with regards to hours spent at work, and work life balance.

 

Set clear schedules for when it’s okay to check into work and communicate on work matters and make it clear that there’s a cut off period for receiving, sending, and/or responding to communication.

 

There may be exceptions from time to time – serious emergencies – but there should be boundaries nonetheless, and any exceptions to those boundaries should be rare or nonexistent.

 

6. Create Clear Lines of Communication Between Management and the Workforce

 

One of the great benefits of effective digital communication is that it’s easier than ever to communicate with the people we need to communicate with, regardless of their physical location. Not only does this let a manager speak directly to any employee they need to address, but it also lets employees speak directly (and immediately) with their managers.

 

Utilize this as a strength, and establish clear and simple methods of reporting to and communicating with coworkers up and down the chain of command, making it easier to bring up grievances or suggest changes, vote on certain matters, or just ensure that management hears when employees have some sort of issue.

 

A culture of promoting openness and making it safe for employees to bring up any matters regarding management can promote trust between employers and employees, as employers know their employees can be more upfront with them, while employees understand that their individual opinions (and opinions as a group) matter, and can have an impact on the company.

 

7. Utilize Group Chats and Group Communication to Make Company Goals Clearer

 

At their worst, group chats can serve as a behemoth of information to wade through to get back to an old conversation, or a source of constant distractions.

 

But when organized, moderated, and used properly, group chats can enable companies and departments to communicate effectively, create a greater sense of cohesion and unity, and make it clearer to everyone what a company’s immediate and long-term goals might be. Every employee should be on the same page, and feel that they’re working towards something together.

 

 

Conclusion

 

There are many benefits to properly leveraged digital communication, and it’s more important than ever to take full advantage of these benefits.

Categories
Office Space

New Workplace Strategies Can Help Expand Flexibility

As we adjust and live in our new normal with new workplace strategies in place, it’s important to be aware of its expanding benefits now and for the future. Read more below.

 

If current polls are to tell us anything, it’s that many employees wish for greater workplace flexibility moving forward. Particularly, if it can help provide them with more safety in these turbulent times.

 

Calls for more flexibility, however, can be interpreted in many different ways. And it’s important to have clear strategies in place to understand how to best implement post-COVID workplace guidelines.

 

The main takeaway from the data that’s been gathered in the face of the ongoing pandemic is that people want a better mix of remote and office-based work moving forward. The ability to control how, when, and where they work is a benefit many employees would like to retain. Even more interestingly, it seems that many employers agree with these sentiments.

 

It seems that many people want the ability to work from both home and the office, depending on the circumstances and needs demanded by their work and personal lives.

 

Furthermore, companies are looking for ways to safely bring employees back into the office without jeopardizing their individual safety, while making the most of the space they already have. Reconciling remote work and office work might not be as difficult as first anticipated, given the growing role that coworking spaces may play in mediating between the two.

 

Coworking Spaces Can Help Maintain Social Distancing 

 

Companies seek to cut down on the number of workers coming back into work while keeping many workers involved via remote work. The need for flexible spaces to provide an in-between is greater than ever.

 

Coworking spaces present the perfect opportunity for small and large companies to rent space on flexible terms for workers who need to work in groups or work closer to the main office, without crowding the office or requiring them to work solely from home.

 

Coworking spaces provide an excellent third place between home and office. They are perfectly positioned to not only provide commercial real estate, but also provide services essential to ensuring that their spaces remain safe. This includes strict social distancing guidelines, individual offices and private spaces, separated and well-filtered HVAC systems, better total airflow, roving cleaning crews, mask and glove policies, and much more.

 

Coworking Spaces Can Helm the Responsibility of a Clean and Safe Environment 

 

While companies are still scrambling to find the right way to deal with the increased demand for flexibility now and moving forward, coworking spaces can helm the responsibilities of keeping a safe and clean environment.

 

Companies with existing office space will have to continue to COVID-proof their own space, but they won’t have to worry about buying or leasing even more office space to support de-densification, or worry about forcing a large portion of their workforce to work only from home.

 

Coworking spaces and flex spaces provide the optional space needed for any company that seeks to keep the number of workers working at the main office sparse while giving other employees the option to work at a coworking space or from home. To that end, the flexible and short-term lease and rent options most coworking spaces provide are excellent for addressing a business’ immediate needs and providing the level of flexibility needed in these uncertain and volatile times.

 

In a hub-and-spoke model, where companies maintain a centralized location and utilize smaller spaces as spokes in a wheel, coworking and flex spaces will remain and continue to be a useful service for companies seeking ways to reduce overhead costs and outsource the creation of a safe workplace dedicated to employee wellness and health.

 

 

Employees Want Flexible Hours to Accompany Flexible Spaces

 

Our time away from the office has led to many managers and employers finding themselves uncertain of how to track their employees’ hours, and instead rely on tracking their results. This has paved the way for the idea of revisiting the working week and judging an employee’s performance on the results they bring rather than the sheer volume of the hours they put into their job.

 

In this sense, employees are also looking for greater freedom to attend to their private and personal lives, destress, and find more time for themselves and family. In turn, seeking the kind of security and serenity needed for greater productivity at work, and a more efficient use of company time.

 

Work-from-anywhere policies can also include an amendment to the working week and develop better concepts of productivity based on data.

 

Developing new ways to track employee productivity and promote wellness and health first, in order to cultivate greater results, can also reflect well on a company’s priorities and help workers feel that their employers are putting the wellbeing of their team ahead of the business’ bottom line, without sacrificing profit, simply by placing greater trust in the team’s own motivation to do good work, and to work effectively.

 

The Ecological Footprint of Flexible Work

 

Another boon provided by a tenuous return to the office and new ideas of what it might mean to put flexibility at the forefront of emerging workplace concepts is that companies can begin to reduce their environmental impact and save time in the process.

 

Reduced commutes and reduced office space translates into reduced emissions and less resources needed for energy and heating, while keeping employees interconnected and allowing them to work together, even during emergency situations and weather disasters.

 

Remote Work and the Future

 

Much is still uncertain about how COVID will continue to impact our work culture, and our workspaces. But we know that, as we’re getting through this first inning, remote work is more important than ever. And much of the progress we’ve made towards adapting to it will not be lost the instant things go back to some degree of normalcy.

 

To that end, many workplace strategies will rely on remote work as an option for further de-densifying the office space, cutting down on the amount of space needed for a company to function, and placing greater value in virtual communication and collaboration technologies.

 

Remote work will not replace the office, and for some people it will always be an inferior option. But for those who seek the flexibility to work from home or anywhere else, it’s more than likely that many smaller and larger businesses will try to accommodate that wish moving forward, for both the safety of their workers and for the benefits that remote work can bring to the table.

 


Read More:

4 Reasons COVID-19 Made Coworking Spaces Important