I came across a really interesting article in this month’s Harvard Business Review about ‘Workspaces that Move People’. The crux of the article is about how creating ‘collisions’ – chance encounters and unplanned interactions between knowledge workers, both inside and outside the workspace – improves performance. The article (supported by data) talks about how hot-desking, designing workspaces to encourage different people to interact, and co-working – can all increase the likelihood of ‘collisions’ and hence increase productivity and creativity. It even talks about a fundamental mind shift from seeing office space as an asset to seeing it as a strategic tool for growth.
We have been making some changes to our working environment at Team recently – changing desks and layouts, creating more ad-hoc meeting spaces and collaborative project spaces and I have been embracing ‘hot desking’ for over a year now. Once I had got over clearing all the stuff out of my desk and the initial panic over where I was going to sit each day, it is now just a way of life and I would not go back to having one set desk.
Moving around the office has allowed me to collide with (metaphorically and sometimes literally – I do tend to rush about a bit) and get to know many people in the company who I have not necessarily worked directly with, or who have recently joined, and I have learned a lot about our different clients. It has enabled me to sit with the others on the project I am working on and, depending on the current focus of the work we are undertaking, I can sit near the HF lead, designer or engineer, or we can all congregate in a dedicated project space.
My working mind-set has shifted too. Having always been a typical hoarder, I now think twice about printing stuff out. And at the end of every day I clear the desk I’ve been sitting at, ready for someone else to sit there tomorrow. I archive finished work as soon as I know I don’t need it anymore, unwanted ‘stuff’ is destroyed, project things are stored and any other vital, or current papers etc. are stored in my locker for the next day. I don’t need much space to work at anymore which frees up valuable space in the office that can be used for other purposes and means I can go and sit anywhere I want whether that’s a table by the coffee machine or an armchair in the snug. It can be really cleansing and I find I can work much more efficiently without loads of stuff around me and I can get up and move somewhere else, or work remotely, at the drop of a hat.
I realise it’s not for everyone, but after taking the plunge to change the way I worked and having done it for a while now, I would really encourage others to give it a go. You never know – you might just find you like it….