Collaboration is one of the most discussed business concepts in the modern day. Nearly all leading businesses today endorse the value of high-performance teams doing collaborative work. Recent research confirmed that space plays an integral role in successful collaboration. Open plan offices that have moveable furniture, seating alternatives and spaces dedicated for thinking shows measurable improvement in key cultural satisfaction dimensions in the office:
- Learning & development
- Idea generation
- Putting ideas into action
- Managing individual performance
- Team dynamics
Together with The Plastic People, suppliers of plastic sheets and innovators in their own right, we take a look at how the creation of thinking spaces can improve collaboration and employee satisfaction.
How to implement collaborative thinking
Implementing group thinking into the workplace is important as it provides opportunities for employees to get involved with projects and potentially see their ideas come to life which is rewarding.
One way that you can implement collaborative thinking is to ensure that on each work project, there is an opportunity for employees to contribute their thoughts. This could be through idea generation meetings at the start of the project, or through a document sharing platform, such as Google Docs that allows different members of the workforce to view projects as they are coming together and make comments. If you implement regular review meetings with employees too, this can also be an opportunity for them to share any ideas that they may have with you.
You should keep employees in the loop of business happenings to ensure that their ideas are in line with your current goals. If some employees cannot attend idea generation meetings because they are working out-of-office, make sure that they are still involved through a video call.
As an employer, you should reward team efforts and good ideas to encourage this behaviour further. Even if an idea is not implemented, demonstrate that it has been considered and explain why it has not been taken further – this may encourage more suitable ideas in the future.
Collaborative thinking can improve the satisfaction of employees in a range of ways.
First of all, it allows employees to get involved with decision making in the business, which makes them feel important in the company and contributing to its success. Group thinking sessions also provide employees with a chance to step away from their desk where they may be sat all day, and be given a chance to share ideas that they may not have had the confidence to share otherwise.
Working as a team to come up with ideas also acts as a bonding exercise, it gives employees a sense of team spirit and each member can motivate one another to come up with the best solution to a problem.
Idea generation not only codes for happy employees, it also improves the running of your business. Brainstorming from staff can lead to better problem solving as many talents, skills, and ideas are coming together – more brains are better than one!
Collaborative thinking allows your workforce to learn things from one another too, developing the skillset of all your employees which will be beneficial for future projects. Cross-departmental collaboration is important too. It allows employees to be part of the wider picture that is your company, and see how their ideas are affecting other areas of the business. It also allows employees to work with members of the business that they may not usually interact with.
How to create a physical thinking space
It is important that collaborative thinking is carried out away from employees’ desks. This is because sitting in a new space can allow them to think outside of the box. Also, sitting at a desk restricts movement which may be essential for acting out ideas or drawing them on a whiteboard or showing ideas through a projector.
If you do not have a separate room that can be used for idea generation, you should consider sectioning off a part of the office from the rest. This could be done using plastic sheets which are reasonable to source.
In this section, you should have a whiteboard and a rounded table with chairs. This area should encourage employees to engage with one another and demonstrate their ideas. You may also need a screen that workers can plug their laptops into to show others what they have been working on.