Creating an organization where people like to work is much more easily done when leaders and staff can easily and naturally connect with each other throughout the day.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the role our office space plays in how we feel about those we work with. How do our spaces help to foster collegiality and teamwork, and how don’t they? I have seen how the kitchen, while serving a basic function, is also is a vital social hub. Things as simple as paint color, how a work station is orientated to others or to natural light, makes a difference.
In our organization we are presently tight for space. We have been steadily adding staff to our office space and now have very little room to add people without causing some disruption. I recently considered carefully the opportunities and potential consequences of squeezing yet another person into a room already full. Will everyone buy into the benefits of a cozy fit, or will the addition be that one too many person that finally pushes everyone over the edge? Will it be the thing that drives someone to proclaim, “Enough is enough, I need some space to breath around here!”
While we think a lot about making our current space work for us, we are also looking ahead and designing our next, more spacious workplace. As we go throughout this design process, we are mindful of the good things we have now – that there are benefits of working alongside people in spaces close together. But we are also aware of how putting people in close spaces and then inundating them with noise and activity can become overwhelming and counterproductive. Failing to provide employees with an area of refuge where they can recharge, away from the constant stimulation, can have negative consequences.
We don’t want to lose the multitude of touch points that naturally exist when you work in a small space. We very much want and even need to continue having an office space that fosters interaction and teamwork – the type of space where one can easily bump into each member of our organization throughout the day, versus waiting to see so and so from the so and so department at our once a month company wide meeting.
How does your office space shape your staff interaction, for better or worse? I encourage you to think about ways you can use office space differently to encourage the best work relationships.
This blog is a sample from an upcoming book I am co-authoring that will be published by ACHIEVE Publishing. The book will draw heavily on A Great Place To Work Survey. I Hope you participate in the short survey — we would love to hear your input.