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In today’s hyper-connected world, it is no longer frowned upon to gather around the coffee bar/water fountain to chat and touch base with your colleagues.
Work is no longer a dull, paper-filled, zoned-in, compartmentalised task. Instead, collaboration and cooperation are the new buzzwords among top-level executives.
Visionaries such as Steve Jobs and Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba.com, have changed conventional notions of the workplace hierarchy, ditching the plush corner office in favour of working among their employees on the floor.
As a result, offices are becoming dynamic, open spaces where execs, managers and staff mill about and interact with confidence and ease.
Unlike in the “old” days, the office now has a unique atmosphere and an energy which coincides with and supports the brand.
In addition, the work itself is no longer individualised but has become more dependent on strong teamwork.
Success is linked to the strength and abilities of the team, as opposed to a handful of isolated individuals.
Consequently, socialisation now plays a critical role in the growth of a company and its brand. This involves building trust among leaders and co-workers, spreading knowledge, and fostering a culture of innovation at the workplace.
Unsurprisingly, top-performing companies are found to do more socialising than others.
So how should these workplace trends influence the new design of your office space?
First, more attention needs to be paid to internal gathering areas and out-of-the-box meeting spaces.
These designs should create open space and encourage interaction, while also providing a comfortable and quiet place in which to work. Interaction is key, as it allows and promotes productive team dynamics.
Work areas should always foster open relationships and allow people to feel “in the loop”. Keep in mind that people tend to collaborate more easily when they are in close proximity to others, and they generally want to see and be seen.
Generally, people only use facilities in close proximity, so it is important always to offer facilities that are easily accessible. Furthermore, easy eye contact between people makes ideas-sharing more likely, and hearing others allows for mentoring – even if it’s through eavesdropping and sharing information informally.
One example of such an area is a coffee bar. It can break down traditional silos by offering centrally located, casual space.
This type of social hub often becomes the psychological centre of the workplace, and an important source of relaxation. If you add to your coffee area and provide a collaborative setting – with power, WiFi, etc – people will have the ability to exchange tacit knowledge and use the space productively.
Ultimately, the value lies in buying your staff members that cup of coffee a day. At Giant Leap, we believe a world-class office can be equated to buying your employees a cup of coffee per day, for the duration of your lease. It’s a small price to pay to welcome your staff to a better place.
l Linda Trim is sales and marketing director at Giant Leap; 011 880 1490. www.giantleap.co.za