Work - it’s a social thing
Many of us spend a large proportion of our day in the office. Human beings are essentially social animals, so it’s not surprising that the opportunity to interact with co-workers is seen by many to make for a better working environment.
What some managers may see as ‘wasting time in idle chit-chat’ has actually been shown to increase productivity by up to 30%. Informal networking, particularly in a creative or collaborative environment, gives individuals the chance to assimilate information and exchange new ideas with others, while exchanging views on non-work matters can help forge closer bonds.
As the focus in office management theory moves away from process flows to a more employee-centric approach based on how people interact, the concept of the break-out zone has become ubiquitous in office design and space planning.
At the same time, there has been increasing debate around the concept of ‘The Third Space’ (or Place). What was once seen as the leftover space after desks and meeting rooms were planned out is now regarded as an important part of a modern dynamic workplace. Experts are divided however, over whether such spaces should be ‘designed in’ or if the interaction process should be allowed to happen more organically. Which then, is the best route?
In reality, it takes a bit of both. Advance planning will set the scene for a more successful take-up by employees and encourage true diversity of use.
While every company is different, there are some basic rules which should be observed when space planning.
Designing for purpose: It’s easy for practical considerations to be overshadowed by brand creativity. Whilst design and style is important, informal spaces also need to be functional and fit for purpose.
Flexibility: The potential uses of break out areas are increasingly diverse – from quiet spaces for brainstorming or a place to sit and concentrate, a corner to rest in or overflow meeting space and visitor waiting areas. As such, they need to be designed as flexibly as possible with the necessary resources close to hand. Within a building, creating a range of breakout zones may work better than one single central area.
Communication: Creating a company culture within which social interaction can take place doesn’t just happen. Lead by example and make sure employees understand what the new breakout arrangements are and how they can be used. Make it clear that working away from desks will not be seen as time-wasting.
How has your company tackled these issues? Leave a comment below or email us your tips and images.