The traditional concept of the office is something that has been changing more and more over the past few years. Whereas once the ideal office consisted of lots of rows of cubicles all decked out in corporate grey, today we know that this is not the best way to inspire the most creativity in a workforce (big surprise there right?).
It seems then that our conventional wisdom regarding the ideal office space is founded on outdated ideas and no longer holds much water. What actually works to get the most out of a team of employers meanwhile is often actually quite counter-intuitive and seems to involve making the office into somewhere more akin to a living room rather than somewhere that looks corporate. At the same time though, you still need to retain the organisation and order that an office is known for. Tricky.
Fortunately, sometimes it’s the small and easy changes here that can make all the difference in this regard. Read on and we’ll go over some of the simple tricks and ‘hacks’ you can use to instantly enhance the productivity and flow of ideas in your place of work.
Somewhere to Lie Down
Adding a place to lie down might sound like the perfect way to prevent people from working, but in reality it’s actually ideal for encouraging your staff to have good ideas. The reason for this is that relaxation has been shown to help increase creative problem solving as it allows us to consider other ideas and to avoid a ‘tunnel vision’ that otherwise causes us to fixate on just one idea.
Thus studies demonstrate that simply ‘leaning back’ slightly can help to trigger solutions to problems. Giving your staff laptops/ultrabooks and a couch they can occasionally retire to then may just help them to work through their problems that little bit faster.
Laptops, Not Desktops
Laptops allow your staff to make better use of the relaxing areas of your office and this also has the added benefit of meaning they can change position occasionally – which is very good for their backs and helps make work feel a little less like ‘work’.
At the same time, laptops can be brought into meetings which allow for much more efficient note-taking and saves a lot of time for everyone. Better yet are slate computers which can be used as laptops sitting down or as tablets standing up.
If you want to increase the proliferation of ideas and encourage useful discussion of work in your office, then going open plan might be the best decision you ever make. This was the strategy famously used by Steve Jobs when he came to Pixar. Legend has it that the first thing he did was to remove all the dividers and put everyone into one big, spacious room. Suddenly the animators were talking to the script writers and the designers were talking to the technicians – and the result was the kind of genius that led to films like Finding Nemo and Toy Story.
Standing Up Meetings
While getting people to talk and mingle is useful for spreading ideas, you don’t want people to discuss ideas to the point where they’re no longer getting any work done. This is a big issue in meetings which can end up dragging on and on and really just using up everyone’s time and energy in petty discussions.
A quick hack to solve this problem once and for all? Take the chairs out of the rooms where you have your meetings. Suddenly everyone will be forced to stand up while they discuss work matters and as a result the average length of a meeting will be sure to drop drastically.
Speaking of standing up, getting people to stand up at their desks is also a good way to improve health and aid creativity (because it encourages a healthy circulation). It’s easy to find desks that can be extended to provide a higher work surface these days, so consider investing in some of these and getting your staff to stand for a few minutes after lunch when they’re checking e-mails. You may just find that it wakes everyone up and productivity increases as a result.
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