3 Design Tactics for Better Problem Solving in the Office
Today’s leading businesses are breaking down walls. The reason? Leaders across the world envision their success as cross-functional, collaborative, lean and global. According to Steelcase research, 82% of white-collar workers feel they need to collaborate with others throughout their day to get their work done. This need for effective teamwork is a driving force in office design today. But in addition to areas where collaboration and effective problem solving can flourish, the workplace needs to provide space for quiet, focused work as well.
In order to understand how to design an office built for better problem solving, we have to understand the rhythm of a collaborative workspace:
- Process the task and information alone or in pairs.
- Start generating ideas.
- Bring your team together to build on ideas and develop a cohesive plan.
- Break apart again for individual work and to take next steps.
- Gather again to review work and reflect on the project.
Although not every team functions the same way, these steps are the general process most of them take to solve problems and innovate. This means the workplace has to offer an ecosystem of spaces to support the different levels of collaboration.
Here are 3 design tactics you can use to support the process:
Enclosed spaces for quiet work
Open offices are proven to support the inter-departmental engagement that today’s workers need to innovate and stay motivated. Allowing for casual encounters and unexpected conversation between departments helps create a healthy work culture and encourages workers to think beyond their own role. But to balance this style of office, offices need spaces dedicated to quiet work, too. The Harvard Business Review states that this balance is key to better collaboration and problem-solving. There are a multitude of ways to create quiet spaces in your office, even if you have an open office plan. With needs-based design, you’ll organize your space for each specific type of work and target each moment of the collaboration process.
Residential common areas for gathering and sharing
Creating a homey environment is one of the best ways to boost morale in the office. Co-workers can share information, de-stress and socialize. A culture of open, effective communication takes time to build, but providing a space for relationships to grow is a great start. When employees get to know one another, they’re gaining awareness on how to work together and building skills to take to brainstorming sessions. Large tables, lounge settings and welcoming decor are important elements to these common areas.
Generic, available-to-all thinking spaces for teamwork
Design areas strictly for collaborative, creative work where people can come together and brainstorm together. The key to thinking spaces is layering. The right resources need to be accommodated for everyone to participate. Both analog and digital information should be accessible, so plenty of whiteboards, paper and screens should be in the space. People need surfaces to ideate and visualize possibilities before transitioning to digital documentation. A variety of seating options should also be available in the room to support long and short work sessions. Layering in a variety of textures and colors helps our minds stay sharp and engaged through multi-sensory design.
To help the collaboration process, read how your office can transform into a creative environment with design tips.
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