Leveraging office space innovation to improve collaboration
Office moves and remodels are often a time of logistics and coordination across multiple departments, vendors and leadership levels within a firm. They involve careful consideration of all details. However, in listening to recent stories, I see one aspect that sometimes lags behind. This is the gap between the innovation in space management in office space and the rest of the organization.
Even if you are a one office firm, there are lessons that come out of office changes that can benefit profitability, productivity or client service (hopefully all three.) Here are some ideas learned from talking with companies over the past few months.
Look for innovation collection points
Many open office floorplans create space for connections near and around break spaces, bathrooms and hallways. These should be intentionally designed into the plan.
I recently talked with a company where many of the production team and marketing staff collected in a small open conference room to look at construction across the street. Over a few weeks, four people started talking about a marketing challenge regarding engagement. The team created a proposal to roll out Intercom, a service interaction platform, across their two departments to address the issue. The move was approved, and the resulting MRR (monthly recurring revenue) increase was large enough to create a new department for consolidated client interaction.
In another company, a large whiteboard was installed to facilitate idea “crunching.” Issues were presented on the board with the @name attached to a problem. Ideas to solve the issue were presented below, often with additional comments and help from others. The original concept had a dollar prize for the best answers, but the leadership learned quickly that getting out of the way improved results. The prize was dropped, and instead the best ideas were promoted by the departments that got the best answers.
Idea collection points can be leveraged across multiple offices, or with remote employees as well. The whiteboard I mentioned in the last paragraph eventually had a virtual version – a camera to start, and was eventually changed into an interactive wall. Answers to problems came from all over at that point. The CEO mentioned that the interactive wall paid for itself in the first three months, with one short answer from a chemist saving a product design team over 6 weeks in development time.
Leverage flexible work to introduce new collaboration options
Many firms use hoteling or kiosk stations to allow transient (or visiting) workers an opportunity to work. This is understandably insular, as often there are few connections between the person coming in and the rest of the office staff.
In a recent discussion with a mid-size manufacturing company, I learned about extended hoteling. Each time an outside sales rep would come in to roost for a day of meetings, he/she would be asked to go through an orientation with either a distribution or logistics team, or be sent to the floor to work with a supervisor. The original pilot failed because neither side was set up to handle the interchange. After some retooling, the logistics training lead asked the sales person to attend after receiving feedback from recent customers on delivery. The resulting conversation dropped return site visits on install by over 60%.
Hoteling also gives you a chance to learn about potential improvements to your space. Creating a feedback loop that is anonymous and pooled with in office feedback helps to see where changes may help the office layout, furniture, dynamic or politics.
Use your remote team members and clients to design new space
Many companies design with the inside in mind, but your remote team and clients often have critical feedback on meeting space. Use their knowledge to help create the outside perception. If you choose the right clients and remote team, they can even provide essential feedback to space planners and interior designers.
Ask more questions
Look at your space with a mixed team and ask what works well, as well as what doesn’t. Often the responses will be focused on the meeting rooms or local work areas. Keep asking questions and listening.
As a firm, you may come up with places that can be strategically used, even if you aren’t remodeling or moving. Each opportunity for collaboration will increase your ability to adapt and learn as an organization. Space is one of the most expensive aspects of your firm. When was the last time you investigated its potential?
Eric is the Director of 10X Operations at Boomer Consulting, Inc. He is part firm administrator, part technology and process guru, and part 10X coordinator for an awesome team.
The first two parts may sound familiar. The last part, thinking 10X, has been a core principle of our firm since the beginning. What would you need to change to make your firm 10X the revenue, client service, productivity, profitability, employee satisfaction or engagement that it is now? Eric’s job is to Think about how our firm could be, Plan for this future and Grow our firm into that 10X model.