6 Team-Building Tips for the Collaborative Workplace

Today’s workplace designs emphasize collaborative spaces – flexible, reconfigurable work areas where staffers come together as a team to address specific tasks. Leading a collaborative team takes some special skills; without them, the best results are hard to achieve, no matter how well-designed the collaborative space may be. Management advisor Tallyfox.com offers these six insights to help build a collaborative team environment:

  1. Set realistic expectations. Clearly communicate the team’s goals, the individual members’ roles, and the reason for the team’s existence.
  2. Build strong leadership. Leaders who are flexible, supportive, and focus on relationships as well as tasks, will produce great results.
  3. Create an environment of trust. Respect and integrity are essential to building trust among all team members.
  4. Support a community spirit. Opportunities for team members to socialize informally outside work will foster a cohesive “family” feeling.
  5. Invest in team members’ skills and expertise. Continuing education supports continuous improvement and makes team members feel valued and valuable. Knowledgeable teams are more productive.
  6. Invest in collaborative technology. Streamlined communications support all of the team-building tips above. Collaborative technology can be electronic devices or specialized software. It can also be adaptive office furniture that facilitates face-to-face interactions, while allowing for a quick change to individual task execution. Whatever form it takes, collaborative technology is vital to a smoothly functioning team.

If you’re adopting a collaborative management style in your business, talk to a design expert about finding the right collaborative technology for your business.

 

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Healing the Healthcare Waiting Room

Sitting in a healthcare waiting room usually rates quite low on the good-times scale, and quite high on the stress scale. With today’s trend toward “patient as consumer,” designers are looking at ways to make waiting rooms more user-friendly.

A recent study at a major healthcare facility defined the shortcomings in waiting room designs, including:

  • Seating that blocked views to information sources (reception personnel, exam room entries)
  • Little space for personal belongings
  • Insufficient access to power sources for tablets and laptops
  • Lack of privacy and seating for family groups

The researchers recommended re-designing waiting rooms to:

  • Accommodate a variety of activities – work, rest, etc. – that might vary over time
  • Improve privacy while adapting to large and small family groups as needed
  • Increase space for personal belongings
  • Enhance access to power plugs for all our modern e-devices.

Reconfigurable furnishings have a big role to play in the new patient-centered waiting room designs. Seating and tables that can easily adapt to changing needs, even multiple times in a day, will go a long way toward creating an ideal patient-centered atmosphere. This video shows how one healthcare provider transformed their waiting room with reconfigurable furnishings:

 

 

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A Lab Design Space-Planning Checklist

We all know the old saying: “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” When you’re getting ready to invest in new lab space, the failure to plan can turn into expensive cost overruns.

A good checklist is a vital planning aid. Lab Design News has developed a space planning checklist to help determine your spatial requirements, including:

  • Current and future headcounts
  • Existing equipment inventory and future purchases
  • Venting and mechanical needs
  • Clean room requirements

Another way to guard against planning failures is to build flexibility into your space plan. Modular casework is a highly effective hedge against unanticipated demands on lab space. These cabinets can be reconfigured in dozens of ways, saving the cost of expensive new casework. This video demonstrates how one institution used modular casework to adapt to new space plans.

Plan ahead, avoid costly surprises, and talk to a storage specialist about maximizing flexibility in your casework design.

 

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How Office Clutter Affects Your Creativity

A recent study by Kathleen Vohs at the University of Minnesota discovered that messiness may actually assist the creative process. Disordered spaces seem to encourage people to think outside the box. In direct contrast is author Marie Kondo’s recommendation that you throw out anything you don’t absolutely love – minimize to the max. Can your office find a middle ground between stifling tidiness and creative disorder?

Organizational expert Brooks Palmer says it comes down to definition: Clutter amounts to the things we keep on our desks that do not serve us – for example, papers or equipment we don’t currently need. He suggests that his clients assess whether each item is something positive. Is it something needed for the task at hand? Is it something for emotional uplift (a birthday party hat, a photograph)? Or is it something that’s been there so long it has become part of the background – negative, because it doesn’t serve the task at hand. If the item isn’t positive, then dispose of it. If it will be needed in the future, store it appropriately.

Palmer’s approach doesn’t advocate minimalism or arranging your books in alphabetical order. Messiness is fine, as long as everything in the mess serves you for the current task. Let the disorder spur your creativity, and talk to a consultant about a high-density storage system for all the “clutter” you need to save for the next task.

 

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Fashion Designers’ Workplace Storage: An Update

Last year’s post about fashion designers’ work spaces was a reader favorite; this year, a new book examines the topic in depth.

From conservative to outrageous, fashion designers incorporate whatever materials work best for their unique wearable designs. That same approach carries over into the design of their workspace, according to IA Interior Architects’ director of design John Capobianco.

Like many other professionals, fashion designers find that a mixture of private space and collaborative areas works best for them. Unlike some other businesses, however, fashion designers have a need to store objects that are irregular-shaped and bulky. For this, they turn to high-density storage systems with adjustable shelving, accommodating everything from boots to blouses.

Designers also need transformable modular storage that can display dresses one day and shoes the next. As Capobianco puts it in a recent blog post, “It has to be much more user customizable, where you don’t have to hire someone to facilitate the transition.” And when the designs go into production, designers use RFID to track the source materials and finished products, and create databases for their catalogues.

When it comes to practical storage solutions, these wildly imaginative fashion designers have a surprisingly down-to-earth point of view. As with their clothing designs, they find the right storage solutions for their needs and, in the words of fashion icon Tim Gunn, they “make it work.”

2016 update: If you want to see just how they make it work, writer/photographer Todd Selby’s newly published book, “The Creative Selby,” explores the interaction of creativity and work environment through fashion designers’ work spaces. This third installment in Selby’s acclaimed series is filled with photos of designers’ ateliers, along with commentary hand-written by the designers themselves.

 

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Feeling Poorly? Maybe It’s Your Efficient Space Plan

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but it may not be the healthiest way to go. Australian insurance company Medibank constructed an office building that is, in many ways, spatially inefficient – all for the good of its employees.

Medibank and architecture firm Hassell theorized that inefficient spaces would force employees into physical movement. In the new building, a meandering office plan wrapped around an atrium, and in the atrium was a spiderweb of linked staircases. To have face-to-face interactions or retrieve documents, employees had to take many more steps than they would have in a typical office – a FitBit user’s dream.

A flexible mix of collaborative areas and private workspaces promotes mental well-being, another important aspect of the balanced healthy design. Hassell’s principal designer Rob Backhouse says they sought balance throughout the design, recognizing that there are certain efficiencies that are vital for the smooth operation of any business. And adding inefficiencies to space plans doesn’t have to mean higher real estate costs. Super-efficient high-density storage can actually reduce the overall footprint, making an inefficient space plan easier on the budget in every way.

After two years of being design guinea pigs, Medibank’s employees were surveyed, and the results were encouraging: 79 per cent said their new building made them feel more collaborative, 70 per cent felt healthier and 66 per cent felt more productive. Balancing efficiency and inefficiency turns out to be a surprisingly beneficial design choice. Learn more in this video: https://youtu.be/sBNzye_WwPg

 

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Keep Your (Workplace) Options Open

Choice – it’s what employees want in their workplace environments. Businesses that build flexibility into the workplace are able to hire and retain top talent, and keep productivity at a high level. Choices can take a variety of forms, from flex hours to telecommuting to benefits. Offering tangible choices is a big part of the equation, too; creating a physical workplace that people are happy to come to on a Monday morning is every bit as important as a good 401K.

Old-school cube farms and new-style open plans can both be inflexible in their own ways. By using well-designed modular casework and reconfigurable workspaces, facilities managers can easily add choices to office environments, creating an adaptable balance between open and closed workspaces. Modular, reconfigurable workspaces are re-arranged as choices shift. Work “zones” for privacy or collaboration let employees choose which kind of environment they need for maximum productivity at any given time.

Writing in Facilities.Net, Naomi Millan states, “space is not a one-size fits all proposition.” In the choice-oriented workplace, the commitment is to employees, not to the built environment. The result is a happy, productive team and a successful business.

How are you adding flexibility to your workplace? Share your story with us, and we’ll share some insider tips we’ve learned from our experience as storage consultants.

 

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Your Cell Phone Is Zapping Your Self-Worth

“Ergonomics” is a term often used to describe the posture-supporting comfort of a desk chair or a driver’s seat. Your posture certainly plays an important role in your health and productivity, but it seems that posture also has a significant effect on your attitude. The right chair will keep you productive all day, but other productivity devices – iPhones and laptops – may be slowly destroying your confidence and self-worth. Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, writing in the New York Times, says, “Your physical posture sculpts your psychological posture.” When we hunch over our cell phones or laptops, we are mimicking the look of a depressed, insecure, unassertive person.

Cuddy points to one study in which people sat in either a slouched position or an upright position while they answered questions in a mock job interview. The slouchers reported a high degree of fear and a feeling of low self-esteem, compared to the subjects who sat upright. Another study showed poor memory retention in subjects who were hunched over.

Apparently good posture leads to good self-esteem. Imagine that: feeling assertive just because your desk keeps you from slumping over your laptop – Swiftspace’s Shape, for example. And now imagine your entire team feeling assertive and productive. Could good posture be one of the keys to a successful business?

 

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Is There a “Science of Design?”

Form vs. function has always been the big balancing act that designers strive for. A building, an interior, a public space – each has a unique and vital function, but in order to fulfill the function, they must attract users through good esthetics. Too often, says author Lance Hosey in this Huffington Post article, designers please only themselves rather than thinking of the end users of their buildings or spaces. The result is a design that functions poorly, and is visually appealing to only a few.

Hosey suggests that designers stop thinking of their work as “art,” and start considering it as a blend of art and science. For example, science states that natural light and fresh air support productivity and well-being. Studies point to the value of both “idea exchange” social spaces and “focused work” private spaces in the workplace. By incorporating aspects of organizational productivity and wellness science into their designs, designers can create the ideal blend of form and function.

 

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Fashion Designers’ Workplace Storage: Anything But Uniform

From conservative to outrageous, fashion designers incorporate whatever materials work best for their unique wearable designs. That same approach carries over into the design of their workspace, according to IA Interior Architects’ director of design John Capobianco.

Like many other professionals, fashion designers find that a mixture of private space and collaborative areas works best for them. Unlike some other businesses, however, fashion designers have a need to store objects that are irregular-shaped and bulky. For this, they turn to high-density storage systems with adjustable shelving, accommodating everything from boots to blouses.

Designers also need transformable modular storage that can display dresses one day and shoes the next. As Capobianco puts it in a recent blog post, “It has to be much more user customizable, where you don’t have to hire someone to facilitate the transition.” And when the designs go into production, designers use RFID to track the source materials and finished products, and create databases for their catalogues.

When it comes to practical storage solutions, these wildly imaginative fashion designers have a surprisingly down-to-earth point of view. As with their clothing designs, they find the right storage solutions for their needs and, in the words of fashion icon Tim Gunn, they “make it work.”

 

Photo © Diorgi – Fotolia