COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | TIFFANY ENGLISH

Collaboration is key to positive work environment

Stop. Take a moment to look around your workplace. What do you see?

Most likely what you see is a wide variety of people, personalities, generations and work styles. Our workplace is a great slice of the world around us. Designed right, it can be a place that people feel excited to be a part of. Designed wrong and you may discover that your workplace just doesn’t work.

Today, most offices include at least two or three generations of workers with a mix of introverts and extroverts. Does your office space cater to everyone? The answer requires great thought and consideration when renovating or creating a new space that will work for you.

A company's culture speaks to the mission, goals and personality of the company. The workplace should reflect these components.

Generations vary not only in the way they work but how they like to work. The demographic composition should be carefully considered. Seasoned workers may like a formal business environment while those new to the work force often prefer a more casual, less structured office setting.

Trends change. Twenty years ago, everyone's goal was to get that private office, which was a symbol of seniority and status within a company. With the onset of collaborative space, we started to see more war rooms and meeting rooms.

Today, many companies are using entirely open, collaborative environments. All of these trends reflect generational changes in how people view the workplace and how they work within it, or outside of it.

Understanding your organization's culture, brand and generational differences is key to creating a successful, productive workplace for your employees. Taking a collaborative approach to identifying and prioritizing what makes your work force tick is the first important step when engaging in visioning and programming new space.

Including members of different generations and seniority levels within your organization in these discussions will not only give you excellent feedback but also help gain ‘buy-in’ to the changes that may result.

When evaluating what work environment will best suit your company, remember you can create a hybrid solution. You don’t need to eliminate all private offices and give everyone an iPad.

Many companies are finding that pursuing new trends — such as open work spaces — while keeping traditional usage — such as private offices for meetings and phone calls — are solutions that all employees can embrace. Consider all the needs that are unique to your business and what elements will make your team the most productive and engaged.

Creating your new office space shouldn’t be a rushed process. While involving your team in a collaborative way may take more time, this initial investment will pay off. The result will be a space that encourages productivity and facilitates a positive work environment that your team will enjoy for years to come.

English is past president of CREW San Diego and a principal at Ware Malcomb, overseeing the San Diego office. She has more than 13 years of corporate office, retail, medical office and hospitality design and project implementation experience.

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