Collaborating can be a daunting effort for employees, especially in a high-pressure work environment. According to Anat Lechner, who recently did a study for the Harvard Business Review, a company’s office layout could be the main culprit behind this problem. Many employees need to collaborate with other team members to get through their daily to-do list, but can’t. According to Anat, in today’s competitive and stressful times, collaboration is no longer a casual luxury; it is a must-have asset.
Lechner breaks down collaboration into three categories — “I work”, “You & I work” and “We work” — with each having different characteristics and challenges. More and more organizations are moving away from the “I work” model to the “We work” strategy. Unfortunately, very rarely do work environments match this new reality.
Lechner rightly states that, “Most workplaces are still heavily anchored in ‘I work’ designs.” She offers companies several interesting solutions. For starters, create specific areas for work that are open and integrated to everyone. Secondly, mix up the size and technology of these rooms instead of just offering a ‘one-size-fits-all’ space.
Lastly, assign a project room so that team members will have their own space to put up or offer ideas to the rest of the team. According to Lechner, returning to the same workspace each day, seeing the saved notes on the board, and leaving samples and/or half-finished prototypes on tables between meetings can help teammates maintain a shared project mindset.