#79 : How can you design your collaborative workspace with Anouk van Oordt

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The pandemic seems to be in the past for many of us now and companies are forcing more employees to come back to the office to see each other physically again. This move has caused a lot of friction, as research shows that 20-30% of employees would prefer to keep working remotely. Today, collaboration and innovation expert Anouk van Oordt and I discuss how we can tackle this problem to make the office an enjoyable place for everyone to work at.

Anouk van Oordt, what makes her the expert?

Anouk was born in The Netherlands and has been living in Belgium since 1992. For as long as she can remember, she’s always been interested in analyzing how people work. That’s why 12 years ago, she founded OOO. Tripple O helps transform companies by bringing three pillars together. Firstly, by bringing together the values and the strategy, then by analyzing the behavior of the employees and lastly, looking at how the workspace design is implemented. She has successfully helped many companies transform and has created many coworking spaces that are used every day!

How multiplicity in large offices can lead to less productivity

Before the pandemic, many organizations offered a large open space to their employees. This open space was meant to improve collaboration, because everyone could easily talk to each other. However, often times, the opposite happened: some people wanted to concentrate, while others wanted to converse more energetically. This led to friction and tiredness between people and a less safe environment.

But the pandemic – briefly – changed that

Then the pandemic hit us and at first, working remotely was a great relief for a lot of people. People could work from their home, which is an activity based environment, where each room has its own function. You and me could taste a bit of freedom at first, because you could choose when and where you would work according to your mood. The issue was that this brief feeling of freedom was quickly replaced by a feeling of isolation. Then came the remote era of working, which is now partially coming to an end. So what do we take from this?

Diversify design according to the feel!

Like I’ve said before, Anouk loves to analyze and she did the exact same thing in the workspace. What did she notice?
Every leader has different moods and different preferences of working. Not everyone feels comfortable in a glass meeting room, because they feel like they’re being watched. Not everyone likes to pick up the phone in a room full of people. On the other hand, many leaders love to sit in larger rooms to communicate and collaborate with their colleagues when they feel the need to.

That brings us to a pretty clear solution. If companies look to the inside and ask everyone in what circumstances they work best, they can come to a great combination of designs to suit these needs. In many cases, that means designing a calm room where people can disconnect and concentrate hard on tasks. That also means designing a room where there is a high energy level and people can talk and collaborate.

The design of these rooms is important as well. Many leaders think that there has to be a black-and-white distinction between our homes and the workspace, but sometimes, bringing in that comfortable home feeling can be amazing for our moods. So get rid of those ugly grey walls and try bringing in some life! Two thirds of the companies are thinking of redesigning their office spaces and the best way to do that, is to communicate with the entire company and design the workplaces accordingly. Sometimes that means investing some money, but many aspects can be kept if the that creates a safe environment feeling.

I tremendously enjoyed this conversation with Anouk and I learned a ton! I myself work in a coworking place from time to time and I really enjoy the different moods and feelings I get in each different room. If you are interested in learning more, be sure to check out the links in the show notes! I will see you in the next episode!

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