workspace

3 keys to workplace productivity

Summary

3 considerations in determining workplace productivity needs.

Read time: 5 minutes

When the cubicle became popular in 1967, it did more than just change the workplace: it created an entirely new workplace dynamic. A private, personalized space was seen as the road to maximum productivity. Unfortunately, the cubicle turned out to be the bane of many office workers’ existence — not to mention a steady source of comedic inspiration.

Eventually, down came the walls and in came the “open office” floor plans. What began as the signature arrangement for the hip young startup quickly became a construct that many businesses adopted — with designs on improving communication and building a more cohesive office atmosphere. While open floor plans have received mixed reviews over the years — mostly for their lack of privacy — new workplace dynamics have muddied the waters more recently, with increasing numbers of employees working in hybrid or remote capacities.

The fact remains that increasing workplace productivity is a challenge for every organization and now, more than ever, there is no one-size-fits-all workspace. Providing today's workers the right space and constructs to do their jobs effectively requires diligent attention to three factors:

  • The roles performed by each employee

  • Technologies that help make a space fulfill its intended function

  • Methods of optimizing the various spaces your company makes available

1. Space according to role

If your employees work in an open floor plan, be sure to provide locations onsite that enable workers to have privacy and concentration when they need it.

Investment in collaborative “workshop” spaces depends on how frequently your teams are tossing ideas around and solving problems together. If that's a frequent activity, perhaps you need multiple spaces enabling it. If it's rare, perhaps another room can double as a collaboration space.

When it comes to boosting productivity, a modest investment is more than worth it — and an experienced partner in workplace services can help you do the difficult work of studying your workforce and strategizing ways to give them the spaces they need.

2. Incorporate the right tools for the job

We talk about “workspaces,” but the space itself can only do so much. Productivity and collaboration depend not only on where you put the walls, but which tools you put within the walls. For example, most companies have a dedicated room for formal presentations and meetings. But your presentations will only be as productive as the audiovisual tools and other equipment you have in the room.

Do your meeting rooms enable fast and easy video conferencing? With increasing numbers of remote and hybrid team members, speaking face-to-face should be as easy as making a phone call — and with today's technology, it can be. Companies that rely on free or first-generation video services aren't exploring the full potential of bringing offsite parties into the meeting room.

With the latest video technology, not only can you launch meetings with the push of a button, but you can share your computer screen and relay data to other participants. Every communication channel important to a productive meeting is hosted by a single device, allowing employees to put less energy into “running” the meeting and more into getting work done.

What about your collaboration spaces? When we imagine a room for workshops and active meetings, most of us picture a big dry-erase board along one wall. But is this really a 21st-century solution?

An interactive whiteboard combines the flexibility of a standard whiteboard with the connectivity and capabilities of digital devices. With precise touchscreen control, you can write, draw and alter content — and share it with people who aren't in the room but who connect to the presentation via computer, tablet or smartphone.

Saving and sharing a file of your on-screen creations is quick and easy. Also, you can plug your computer, tablet or smartphone into the whiteboard and use it as an instant display screen — quicker and more visually precise than projection. The tools are out there. And as you consider where your employees will be working, you need to think about what they can use to do it better.

Your workforce is too diverse, and productivity depends on too many factors for a one-size-fits-all workspace.

3. Manage your different spaces

Finding out when spaces are available and reserving them for your meeting can be a very cumbersome process: checking room status in one place, making a reservation via a different communication channel, waiting for confirmation, etc.

Easily updatable digital signage outside the door of each meeting room changes this entirely. Not only do digital signs make it clear when rooms are and aren't scheduled, they also serve as touchscreen consoles for entering reservation requests. With the right information readily available, employees may be much more likely to take advantage of the real estate available to them.

With the price of real estate these days and greater numbers of employees working remote at least some of the time , boosting — and optimizing — usage of workspace is very important. Once again, optimizing requires investment in a process. You must study the traffic and utilization patterns of your various workspaces, and from there you can make choices about how to schedule and configure them.

Technology can do some of this for you. By installing sensors, you can measure occupancy and get recurring feedback to help you utilize given spaces. With the information you gather, you can continually iterate and adapt your workspace arrangement.

If formal presentations are given infrequently, you can find other ways to make use of that space — such as a “drop in” space for workers who need to spread materials out on a large table. Your real estate isn't infinite, and only through scrutiny and careful monitoring can you discover all your options for getting maximum usage — and productivity — out of your spaces.

Increasing workplace productivity isn't a one-size-fits-all effort

Creating productive work environments is an effort that varies from one organization to another. Your workers have different needs, and making workspace decisions that satisfy those needs requires digging into the details and tailoring a solution to your business. If you devote the time and resources to that investment, you'll see it pays off in the end.

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