By Jeff Erickson, Vice President Product Development, FreeConferenceCall.com
It’s time to call the next play, people: Collaboration is the new standard. The business world has learned that groups tend to innovate deftly, react to mistakes faster and adroitly pinpoint solutions to problems. With that lesson in mind, businesses are embracing the workplace transformation trend more than ever to rework office space to boost team and personal productivity.
From Cubicle Farm to Collaboration Hub
According to USA Today’s Natalie DiBlasio, office floor plans of today look very little like the cubicle farms and traditional boardrooms of the 1980s. With tight individual workspaces and heavy mahogany tables going the way of the dinosaur, collaboration is moving in and making itself comfortable. Particularly in Silicon Valley — always at the forefront of corporate trendsetting — a mash-up of the open office layout, ad-hoc collaboration spaces or huddle rooms and shared private spaces has become the new norm.
What do these ad-hoc collaborative spaces, or huddle rooms, look like? Huddle rooms are flexible spaces for smaller groups to gather, share and innovate. These spaces typically consist of table and chairs, audio/video collaboration tools and a whiteboard. Businesses frequently opt for multiple huddle rooms, each with a unique theme or style. After all, projects and the teams that drive them come in all shapes and sizes. The key is to consider the wide variety of work styles that exist in each organization.
“Are you going to be relaxed and social? Noisy and boisterous? More formal? The way the walls are shaped, the furniture — all of it is designed to inspire a particular behavior," says Primo Orpilla, cofounder of San Francisco’s Studio O+A, which designed Facebook’s headquarters cum mini-college campus. "We have meetings, we have lots of meetings. But they don’t have to all be in the same kind of conference room."
So if your company is ready to re-envision its workspace, here are three essential steps to a successful transformation.
1. People First, Then the Furniture
Set your teaming transformation up right by engaging employees from the get-go: What work styles do they find most effective? What kind of physical spaces best support those styles? Gather feedback throughout the process so the end result is in line with user requirements and expectations. Ultimately, whether the ideal huddle room warrants exercise balls, floor pillows, a whiteboard wall or all of the above, companies will be granting employees the freedom to work in a way that engenders innovation and productivity.
2. Ensure the Right Collaboration Tools Are in the Toolbox
Remember that whether your teams are remote or in a single location, successful collaborators don’t just work with each other — they work together. Business conferencing and collaboration tools are a must-have for teams connecting with remote workers or other offices, but huddle rooms don’t have to translate into elaborate hardware or expensive systems. These options can actually be limiting if users can only connect to similar endpoints. Flexibility is the theme — so prioritize accessibility and ease of use with a software-as-a-service approach to communications.
Nuts, Bolts and Beyond
Focus on the hardware essentials: a display system for video conferencing and online meetings and a speakerphone that supports audio conferencing. In terms of software, opt for a platform that delivers functionality, flexibility and mobility. The award-winning FreeConferenceCall.com, for example, offers users multiple collaborative pathways with astounding capacity: select from audio conferencing, screen sharing with collaboration tools, and video conferencing — from a landline, desktop or device, with up to 1,000 participants. With managed services, dedicated bridges, integrations with leading applications and account management, StartMeeting®, brought to you by FreeConferenceCall.com For BusinessTM goes way past the basics without breaking your company’s budget. Both agile and intuitive platforms feature a customizable Meeting Wall with web controls for masterfully hosting a team meeting from a physical or virtual huddle room. And good news for participants — no downloads make it easy to join the meeting.
3. Manage Change and Remember That Process Makes Perfect
Of course, there’s more to being collaboration-friendly than great space design and a smart conferencing solution. Unless companies are willing to introduce processes that support a shift towards a teaming culture, orchestrating change might entail bracing for a rocky transition.
What kind of change management or processes can help even out the learning curve?
- Equipping leaders with the skills to foster an innovative and well-balanced teamparticular attention to supporting remote or diverse workers.
- Educating employees about best practices of working and teaming virtually.
- Introducing procedures that support your new way of working (e.g., performance management process to manage results or reward initiatives to drive the right behaviors).
So get ready to pull together that perfect combination of a brilliantly redesigned office space and a strong teaming culture that will boost employee collaboration, productivity and creativity, increase well-being and reduce your office’s carbon footprint.
Break! Game on.