With the right office layout, cross-working enables colleagues to share ideas and unlock innovation
Research reveals that workers who share challenging tasks or projects outside their immediate team are more likely to find solutions.
For many companies, particularly in the SME sector, breakout areas have gained popularity as cross-working spaces; places people can sit and work, have impromptu conversations – and hatch new ideas.
Adapting or changing your workspace layout to encourage staff interaction shifts our perceptions of work settings, kick-starts change and can bring about fresh ideas and innovation.
What is cross-working?
Published last year, the Global Workplace Trends report identified changing workplace patterns around the globe. Based on research by the management services giant Sodexo, the report looked at wide ranging workplace patterns and trends.
One trend covered in the report was the continued rise of ‘cross-working’. This is the practice of actively encouraging staff to mix, with the clear aim of increasing cross-generational and cross-departmental interactions. In a nutshell; get people from different teams or departments to sit next to each other and work.
Why should we care?
The report found that in cross-working environments people are more likely to share their problems and ideas outside of their team or departmental structure. This often results in a fresh take on things, cross-pollination of ideas and hey presto! – Innovation is born.
But these interactions don’t happen all by themselves and creative minds won’t simply imagine and execute innovative new ideas. Companies need to create the right conditions – conditions where the workspace facilitates employees crossing paths and working outside of the usual structural norms.
Many organisations are already enjoying the benefits. Co-working advocates in emerging / disruptive sectors and tech giants, with giant budgets to match, can design their whole offices to accommodate movement of staff. Entire departments can rotate their location in the pursuit of innovation through cross-working interactions.
But what about the rest of us, particularly in the SME sector, with SME sized workspaces and SME sized budgets?
So, on a smaller scale, what can we learn from the office design of cross-space pioneers? Taking a forensic look at every square foot of your space can often reveal under-used areas and open up new possibilities for your space. Professional space planners can transform working practices with a relatively modest budget and minimum disruption to the day to running of the business.
Look around and you’ll notice the increasing prominence of breakout areas, often next to a kitchen area. It’s hardly a surprise to learn they’re a popular choice for re-design; as the old adage goes, ‘the kitchen is the heart of the home’, and for many companies, particularly in the SME sector; it’s the heart of the business too. It’s a place where people have informal meetings or pass and have impromptu chats which can form new ideas.
What if we’re not planning an office move around anytime soon?
Taking a fresh look at your existing offices costs nothing and exploring a new design idea is a simple way to find out what cross-working strategies are possible within your space. There’s minimal disruption to the smooth running of your business – most of our clients remain fully operational while work goes on. To find out how we could help you get the most from your office, please get in touch.