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.
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.
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 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.
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