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Designing Your Office to Encourage Interaction

office design to encourage interaction

Depending on the nature of work, collaboration, and interaction can be a major part of the day-to-day. Traditional cubicles and closed-off spaces, although often part of office layout design, can hinder communication and collaboration. It is time to consider office design to encourage interaction.

The addition of open spaces, adequate seating, and functional furniture can encourage interactions between workers. Meetings and group interactions that used to happen in conference rooms are now occurring in mixed-use spaces easily accessible to everybody. Even though these areas are open and near individual workspaces, office layouts and specialized partitions can separate spaces. Increasing and encouraging interactions between workers can lead to improved collaborative work and a more enjoyable environment but why?

The Differences Interaction Can Make

collaborative office layout design with modular lounge seating

It’s no surprise human interaction can be beneficial to morale and creativity. An effective office layout and creative use of furniture can encourage both professional and social interactions. Studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic and The Harvard Study of Adult Development showcase the benefits of increased interactions in the workplace.

The studies showed that encouraging interactions can result in happiness, reduced stress, increased loyalty and engagement, and an overall healthier life. Whether they’re professional or casual, building positive relationships with people can lead to an increase in happiness. Creating these relationships and bonds with people give workers a solid support system.

Encouraging interactions in the workplace will help build these relationships and create a more engaged workforce. Studies referenced by Forbes prove there’s a direct correlation between strong social connections and productivity in the workforce.

Encouraging interaction through smart office layout design can greatly increase the chances of creating a supportive and positive environment. Designating areas to gather and collaborate can improve the office environment as well as the business.

Collaboration in a Hybrid Workplace

employees collaborating in a hybrid office with movable furniture, biophilics, and mobile partitions

In an evolving workplace, the hybrid model is becoming more predominant. There are many reasons for this but the way people design their offices plays a large part in the success of an employee’s work. A hybrid work model requires workers to come into the office part-time which allows them to conduct a lot of their work from home. Since employees aren’t always in the office, the times they are need to count.

One of the problems with hybrid models is the difficulty that comes with trying to work together on collaborative projects. This is why it’s important to provide an area for hybrid employees that encourages collaboration and interaction. The right office layout design gives hybrid employees the opportunity to interact with coworkers effectively. Designing a space that gives workers an area to socialize and work can fulfill the need for interactions. Collaborative spaces are a resource for hybrid employees to help them communicate and interact.

Encouraging Interaction with Furniture

acoustic office layout design to encourage interaction with vibrant colors, wall storage units, and employee booths

When we think about traditional collaborative spaces, conference rooms come to mind.  But the way we encourage interaction is changing. Collaborative and communal spaces create areas where employees can gather or work together. The layouts and furniture used in these areas can create an entirely separate area of the office to work in.

Seating solutions have one of the largest impacts on employee interaction. You might create an area perfect for gathering but if the area doesn’t provide adequate seating employees with be less likely to occupy the area. There are many forms of seating used when creating spaces. Less formal seating such as sofas and other soft seating provides a more comfortable space. This can make an area far more desirable but it might not always be the most practical.

Collaborative areas allow workers to step out from behind their desks and connect with others.

Functionality is also important to look for when providing seating. If the goal is to create a common area to work in, the seating should pair well with work surfaces. If there are large communal workspaces, the functionality of the seating should reflect their use. Comfortable seating suited for those tables might surround long tables. However, collaborative spaces aren’t always designed to suit large groups.

Providing work booths can encourage small groups of four or fewer to gather. These booths give employees a secluded area to work in. And often creates a break from other office noise. Booths might not be able to accommodate larger groups but they’re designed to provide employees with a private area to meet and work together.

Selecting the Right Furniture

Keep functionality in mind when deciding what furniture you select. If designed properly, these areas might be higher traffic, providing collaborative spaces for many different purposes. What might be perfect for a small group might not be the best for a large group.

Many pieces of office furniture are modular. Modular furniture can easily be rearranged throughout your office layout design for different purposes. For example, a modular sofa can be used to add or take away additional seating. Modular work surfaces should also be considered. Tables that can be easily pushed together or moved give employees versatile collaborative areas to accommodate varying group sizes and activities

Office Layout Design for Interaction and Focus

employees in a hybrid office with adjustable height curved cubicles, lounge seating, employee booths, natural light, and biophilics

When designing your office to encourage collaboration there are many things to consider. Employees should feel comfortable. Don’t limit collaborative spaces to professional interactions only. It should be an area that employees enjoy spending time in and talking to others.

In a constantly evolving workplace, and with the growing popularity of the hybrid model, encouraging interactions and collaboration is important to maintain relationships and maintain communication.

Don’t force collaborative areas. If workers are more likely to work at a conference table, they shouldn’t be forced to use comfortable seating such as couches. Employees and offices have different needs. What works as a collaborative area in one office might not work as well for others.

One of the main things to consider when designing collaborative areas is what will it be used for. Brainstorming? Focusing? Learning? The use of the space greatly determines what it will look like. Employees that require concentration and focus might find private seating areas to be best. Brainstorming and creative sessions might benefit more from comfortable lounge seating. Building collaborative spaces based on what employees need will allow them to get the most out of the space.

Collaborative but Flexible

flexible furniture in a collaborative space with biophilcs and natural light

Designing collaborative areas can be a challenge. It is important to give workers the tools they need but make sure you get the most out of an area. Some offices don’t have the luxury of sprawling out and designating one area for brainstorming and another area for presentations. Many times, offices have to make do with the space they have.

Flexible furniture that can be easily moved around and rearranged can serve multiple purposes and help employees get the most out of a space. Nest modular desks together to create a larger work surface, use partitions to create private areas, and use office furniture that can be wheeled around to quickly and easily transform an area for a new use. However, designing a functional and collaborative office isn’t just about picking the best furniture.

Considering Acoustics

acoustic paneling in an open office space with lounge seating for collaboration and connection

Creating an area where people gather has the potential to create distractions in the workplace. That’s why it’s important to try to prevent or limit the impact collaboration and socializing have on the rest of the office. Conversation and added noise can carry over into the rest of the office creating distractions for those working in traditional workspaces.

Specially designed partitions offer a solution to this issue. Acoustic panels and furniture help dampen and absorb sound. These noise solutions help limit the amount of noise that leaves the collaborative spaces. These partitions make it especially easy to create a collaborative space. This can create seemingly separate areas for workers to gather.

Collaborative spaces should serve multiple purposes. Selecting the right furniture for workers can create a solution for their needs. Creating flex spaces and using flexible furniture is one of the most effective ways to encourage interaction and collaboration.

Is Redesigning an Office Worth it?

An increase in interaction between coworkers can improve the work environment as well as the company’s performance. In some cases, a collaborative space is necessary for the work and at other times it can simply make tasks easier. In a constantly evolving workplace, and with the growing popularity of the hybrid model, encouraging interactions and collaboration is important to maintain relationships and maintain communication.

Dedicating an area for employees to gather and work together offers them a reprieve from the solitude of their cubicle or work-from-home office. Collaborative areas allow workers to step out from behind their desks and connect with others. The addition of comfortable seating, strategically placed acoustic panels, and large work surfaces is the first step to increasing performance and morale. Encourage interactions with others and create the areas necessary to do so. Creating these spaces to encourage interaction is necessary for not only the workers but also the business.

Looking to improve collaboration in your workplace? Then check out the collaborative furniture collection from StrongProject

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