The quantity, location and type of collaboration spaces should be determined by local culture to maximize utilization. Cultures have their preferences for certain office space layouts. The placement of collaboration technology needs to follow these predispositions. The functionality of the collaboration equipment and the environmental challenges (lighting and acoustics) hinge significantly on these office arrangements.
The Chinese, for example, prefer large residential areas separated from executives and managers. Designated collaboration zones between these areas encourages co-mingling of the staff (Steelcase, 2015). These zones are good for huddle rooms, which offer some privacy but still support spontaneous meetings.
Walk-up stations are effective close to teams inside the residential neighborhood, but executives prefer the formality of traditional conference rooms in their zone. For application sharing to work, all these systems have to interconnect. Note the designated arrival zone that separates visitors from the office population. This “in person” area plays an important role in the culture: direct personal contact weighs heavily on the decision making process.
The French prefer less executive leadership space (Steelcase, 2015). This culture values emotional connection and quality of life. Social areas like the community café are important for informal conversation. Cafés are noisy environments that work well for interacting with peers locally, but not for collaborating with remote co-workers.
While the Chinese and French cultures have a strong preference for residency, Americans have a large percentage of transient staff (Steelcase, 2015). This population is referred to as Nomads, and includes the sales force, consultants, and entrepreneurs.
Nomads are highly mobile and their requirements when they come into the office are slightly different that the resident. In addition to temporary desks and collaboration spaces, the nomadic workforce needs private areas for quiet reflection and informal areas for relaxation. The nomadic lifestyle appeals to millennials, and designing the office to appeal to their collaboration requirements will increase recruitment and retention.
The placement of media stations is no longer equidistant or ubiquitous. Each office has unique cultural preferences that encourage collaboration and influence employee recruitment and retention. The integration of multimedia into collaboration zones and walk-up stations is critical to the success of this culture-centric strategy. The results are transforming the workplace. Now the burden is on IT to interconnect and unify the experience across huddle rooms, collaboration stations and conferencing rooms.
TURNING POINT is Mark Peterson's personal take on innovation and collaboration influencing today's corporate strategy. To have a conversion about what takes to implement collaborative solutions efficiently and at enterprise scale, contact Mark Peterson
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Steelcase (2016). Open Space Planning. Retrieved from http://www.steelcase.com/resources/space-planning-ideas/