How to Create a Workspace for Both Focus and Collaboration

The ‘open workspace’ was all the rage back when startup culture was less the norm and more emerging trend. It broke down literal barriers in an attempt to foster collaboration and encourage transparency over bureaucracy. And it did so at the expense of focus.

Since 2008, the number of people saying they can’t concentrate at their desk has increased by 16%. This is because open floor plans cater more to the idea of “we.” Your desk functions as a holding place with the expectation that you engage more often than keep your head down.

The problem is, maximizing production in the workplace is a matter of focus and collaboration. Here’s how to create a workspace that accounts for both.

Recognize the Need for Balance and Process

You can’t begin to create a workspace for both focus and collaboration without acknowledging the need for balance in how you manage your team and implement processes. For example, if endless meetings have been ingrained in the company culture and people are expected to answer emails after hours, changing your workforce’s approach to time management may be more of an uphill battle.

When you put the tools in place, you need to provide support to your employees on how to make the most of them. You can help your team’s focus by actively encouraging them to take breaks. Just as you can fuel collaboration with daily stand-ups.

Cater to Different Work Modes

Everyone has a preferred work style. But generally speaking, there are some agreed-upon work modes that people often flow between. These break down to include: collaborate, focus, learn, and socialize.

Each one brings its own benefits to the table, from building a collective identity to increasing productivity. As you create a workspace that balances both focus and collaboration specifically, keep in mind varying preferences.

Provide options for both sit and standing desks. Allow for the use of headphones to help with noise management. And create quiet rooms for times when employees need to separate themselves from surrounding distractions.

Provide the Necessary Technology

Outside of physical workspace design, it’s also necessary to equip personnel with technology geared towards both focus and collaboration. Double individual productivity with dual monitors or boost the potential for collaboration with a tool like Slack.

You want to cater to employee needs and differences by creating a space that accounts for every variation. Equip your team to succeed and gather feedback regularly to ensure that the systems in place continue to work with your people, not against them.

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