Much of the research on creating productive teaching environments can be applied to creating productive offices as well. Businesses are scrambling to improve culture to increase employee engagement and productivity, and education provides a trove of information on keeping easily distracted minds tuned in and focused.
On a recent podcast on Every Classroom Matters, Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) explored new research on creating engaging teaching environments. Her guest, David Jakes (@djakes) is a leader in space design, with many years of experience creating compelling physical and digital spaces for learning.
- Environment is a major part of workplace culture along with peers, management, and tasks.
- Environmental changes can have an immediate and noticeable impact on office culture.
- Business has flexibility and control in the improvement of office spaces.
- Environment communicates the expected experience to employees and management.
- Space can contribute to a positive office experience.
Some ideas to create productive environments using space:
- Design with micro environments – different areas for different tasks
- Typical office space has desks or cubes and a break room or kitchen
- Create contemporary, flexible, agile spaces that adapt and serve more than one purpose
- Carve out small areas and add different seating like soft chairs in a conference nook or moving/bouncing/rocking chairs around a low table to encourage peer-to-peer/employee-manager interaction away from desks
- Use available office views for all employees by putting group areas near large windows, or install a large landscape/cityscape mural
- Ensure that there is good lighting, mimicking natural sunlight as much as possible
- Allow employees to choose where to work within the office – mobile devices are preferred by millennials
- It’s not a coincidence that these types of seating areas mimic popular destinations like coffee houses
- De-clutter your walls and treat with writeable surfaces like chalkboard paint
- Add moveable whiteboards, butcher paper dispensers, and other writable surfaces to encourage collaboration/sharing of ideas
- Employees can capture photos of work and share with colleagues and management
- Employees can diagram, brainstorm, collaborate on ideas
- Setup an office digital space specifically for communication and collaboration – recently I read about keeping a space like this up to date to help onboard new hires
- Foster digital communication between employees, management, and CEO’s
- Limit meetings to minimize productivity disruptions
- Ensure that the company wifi is robust and fast
- Provide good coffee, tea, or other snacks.
- Taking a short break with a nice view recharges the batteries.
- Peer-to-peer interaction encourages collaboration and improves culture
This location flexibility increases energy and engagement instead of squelching it with long hours at a desk. Your employees might come in early to snag the best area. They can re-energize and connect rather than lose productivity late in the day. Plus it’s a start towards creating a culture that engages employees rather than making them look elsewhere.
For more ideas on using education engagement to improve your office engagement and productivity, visit the sites of Vicki Davis and David Jakes.