Companies thrive on what employees think of when they get together and build on each other’s strengths. Their ability to work as a team is paramount, especially in today’s environment, and that means that the places where they hang out in groups should be designed to encourage their best thinking. Designing a communal workspace could include the conference room, the break room, or just especially wide places in the hall where people gather, but wherever it is, it should be designed for innovation.
6 Tips for Designing a Communal Workspace
1. Supply Communal Games
Most people know the power of standing around the water cooler or the office coffee pot while chatting. Suddenly, people are friends and they can brainstorm together. This is because you are beginning to tap into the power of play, which studies have linked to increased job satisfaction, office morale, less burnout, and is positively associated with creativity. A manager can increase these benefits pretty cheaply with a few board games, some blocks, or a table tennis game.
2. Invest In Technology
It could be as simple as a dry erase board in the break room for people to write down random thoughts, or as high tech as a communal laptop that has a permanently open Office Word document and an email address that everyone can use to send group emails. There are plenty of apps, such as Google Drive, which allow people to create a document together and put it out to a group. The key is to make it easy for people to jot down their ideas and share them wherever the thoughts happen.
3. Furnish Comfortably
People stay where they are comfortable, and where they stay they do a lot of thinking. A nice sofa in the conference room and ergonomic tables all-around encourages your employees to hang around together and brainstorm instead of wanting to bolt for the door the second the meeting or lunch is over.
4. Light Naturally
As a Northwestern Now article explains, natural light exposure, especially in the morning, increases general wellness in employees by improving sleep and alertness. It also increased people’s level of physical activity. Designing a communal workspace with this in mind will benefit everyone. When your employees are rested and in peak physical health, they are more productive and inclined to get along well with others.
5. Separate From The Individual Work Spaces
Having a space where people can team up be separate from where people work alone is a critical part of working together. You don’t want the employee who likes to play their music or hangs up demotivational posters interfering with the vibes the team in the break room is generating. Likewise, once a team has created their new plan, they will want some of their own space to implement their parts in it.
The communal areas shouldn’t just have their own room; they should have their own decorating schemes so that they are clearly marked as team spaces. It helps employees get in the right headspace for team work.
6. Add A Touch Of Greenery
Many studies have shown that plants, especially flowers, promote pro-social behaviors and make people friendlier to each other. Little pots of peace lilies or jade can encourage employees to listen to each other with an open mind and to share with each other. This can facilitate more brainstorming. Besides, some people have a hard time working in groups, and anything that makes them more open to group work is a good thing.
The addition of plants is also a decorating choice that makes a space more homelike and inviting too, so it can act as a way to separate the individual workspaces from the communal areas.
If you are interested in designing a communal workspace with some beautiful living plants, contact Cityscapes. We would love to help you decorate for your employees’ next brainstorming session.