And while it wasn’t long ago that huddling around the water cooler was viewed as unproductive, today organizations are designing the workplace to encourage this kind of behavior, having realized that social interactions support behaviors, attitudes, and goals that lead to trust, collaboration and, in turn, innovation. Projects often move faster toward successful completion when people can share knowledge and experience, get instant feedback, build trust and camaraderie, and profit from diverse ideas and points of view.
Whether it’s brainstorming an idea or developing a plan for a new product launch, the average knowledge worker spends about half of his or her time working with others. The challenge for organizations is to provide their people with environments that give them the team space, technology, and the work protocols they need to collaborate along with private space as needed. All too often, however, organizations provide dysfunctional worksettings that do not support the work being done, especially when it comes to collaborative space. In many cases, the physical plan is a reflection of benchmarking and number-crunching rather than a study of how work actually happens. More often than not, collaborative space is the first to get value engineered out during the planning process, at the cost of business effectiveness.