Posts Tagged workplace harmony

A room with a view – of collaboration

Herman Miller has impressed me time and again with their thought-provoking publications and research, and an article they wrote entitled Making Room for Collaboration is another fine effort.

I like the article, not just because it begins with an observation from a report the Economist Intelligence Unit wrote for my old team:

In a recent survey of 1,656 executives from 100 countries, a majority said that it is vital to the future of their organizations. The survey results found that “increased collaboration will be a defining feature of the company of 2020. Executives expect to see a lot more collaborative problem-solving inside and outside their firms, and clear majorities intend to create employee incentives to encourage collaboration across functions (79 percent) and with external stakeholders (68 percent).” — Foresight 2020: Economic, Industry and Corporate Trends

I like it because it takes an often overlooked component of the business productivity puzzle — environment — and puts it in the heart of the collaboration experience.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the applications, rules and cultural aspects of the collaboration puzzle that we forget that something as seemingly trivial as the placement of the water cooler can throw the whole corporate engine out of balance.

Creating a workspace that captures the intent as well as the spirit of the team, and meets the needs of the individuals, can help unlock group potential.  I’ve worked in offices where the space planners’ vision of shared workspace clashed so completely with personal preference and cultural needs that the group worked about as well as a set of bamboo jumper cables.  Another office had a mix of personal and public space that was unintentionally so seamless and natural that the team ticked like a fine pocket watch.

The role of physical proximity is also discussed.  In the article, Professors Gary and Judith Olson of the University of Michigan are quoted as saying, “Collaborative work at a distance will be difficult to do for a long time, if not forever. There will likely always be certain kinds of advantages to being together….We will find uses for [present and future collaborative technologies], and descriptions of collaborative work in the future will enumerate the emergent social practices that have put these technologies to useful ends. But it is our belief that in these future descriptions distance will continue to matter.”

Isn’t that the truth?

What about you?  Does your work environment help to raise the collaborative quotient of your team, or does it impede your shared effectiveness?  Tell us about your office and how it impacts your collaborative success.

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Sound advice for younger workers

Diversity has a lot of dimensions, age and experience included.

Ryan Healy at Employee Evolution has a list of tips for younger workers who are trying to fit in with their sometimes older peers.  While everyone has issues getting along with their teammates, it’s important to remember that younger folks generally have less experience with this in the workplace.  Ryan’s list includes:

  1. Talk about technology
  2. Ask questions
  3. When the kid convo comes up, keep your mouth shut
  4. Talk about your weekend fun
  5. Be an expert, but don’t flaunt it
  6. Accept every favor you’re offered

I’m not too sure about the advice to talk about your weekend fun.  It might be true that the older folks like hearing the stories, but from what I recall of my weekends these waters might best be left uncharted in the boardroom.  Other than that it’s sound advice.  Great job, Ryan, and thanks!

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