5 Essential work spaces that boost productivity

There has been a massive shift in how the environments in which we work influence our productivity and company culture. Businesses have become more meritocratic, management more open and now our office designs are beginning to reflect this shift.

At Highfive we think about, aspire to and ultimately work towards shaping the new way to work. And while a large part of that type of thinking involves an understanding of how the way we work is changing, an equally important concept to understand is how the places where we work are changing.

Want to improve employee creativity and happiness? Make sure your team has access to these five essential work spaces:

“Water cooler” social spaces

Today, businesses understand that the cross pollination of ideas between different departments is a fundamental part of an innovative working culture. Companies are adding spaces such as cafes, lunchrooms, and game rooms where employees from different departments can relax, bump into each other, and have conversations that might otherwise not have happened.

The late Steve Jobs said “If a building doesn’t encourage collaboration, you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity,” and office designers are taking Jobs’ words of wisdom to heart and applying them more than ever before.

BBC recently built a lunch room employees want to use in their American Headquarters with the theory that it would encourage creativity and collaboration.


Ad-hoc meeting spaces

When building their San Francisco office, Square included cabanas and work pods meant to alleviate the pressure of scheduled conference rooms. These spaces give employees a place to have quick, semi-private and often impromptu conversations without tying up expensive (and scarce) conference room resources.

In cities such as San Francisco, every square foot of office space is precious so finding creative ways to optimize space is essential to running an efficient business. These ad-hoc spaces provide places for employees to have quick impromptu conversations and then get back to work. Employees often prefer these cabanas to the alternative of scheduling and using conference rooms (for typically an hour at a time).

Conference rooms

Scheduled space in a conference room seems old school but the reality is that these rooms are essential for any business. Whether it’s a board meeting, team standup meetings or the occasional HR use-case, conference rooms are necessary for the successful operation of a company.

And while we can’t all afford conference rooms as cool as Atlassian’s (as seen below), there are plenty of ways to liven up your conference room. We recently compiled a list of conference rooms that inspire creativity.

Personal Workstations

Though office design trends have shifted away from cubicles and private offices, the fact remains: we all need a place to call our own. Personal workstations are a place we can retreat to and go heads down for a couple of hours.

There is no one-size fits all in these workstations, however, so the key is providing some flexibility. We give each employee $5,000 to outfit their workspace. Some people add standing desks, others get extra monitors, and others buy remote control helicopters, but the goal is always the same: outfit a workstation that is optimized for productivity.

Essential tools for a personal workstation include a good pair of headphones (ideally noise cancelling), a desk, a monitor and an ergonomic chair.

Coffee Shop

The truth is that work is no longer done solely in an office; sometimes workers need to head to a coffee shop for creative inspiration or stay at home for a heads-down-productivity day.

With recent improvements in video conferencing and apps like Hipchat keeping entire teams connected, remote work is becoming less and less of a concern for managers. While some companies—most notably Yahoo!—have banned remote work, the overall percentage of remote workers in America is on the rise. Nearly 10% of workers now spend at least one workday at home, a 20% increase since 2005 and the upward trend towards remote work doesn’t appear to showing any signs of slowing.

The days of cubicles are behind us; we now live in a world where companies should not only accept but encourage remote work or writing an article on a beanbag chair. In general, the key to making your team as productive as possible is to offer spaces that adapt to various types of work.

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