Bridging the Physical and Digital Workplace for Deeper Collaboration
May 22, 2019
Bluescape’s origins began inside one of the world’s premier office furniture providers, Haworth. While seemingly disparate disciplines (technology and furniture design), the two companies share a common foundation that unifies them: a need to develop the best solutions that drive changes in how we work. Change is difficult. That’s why we focus on the details that matter. What’s more, we have a shared enthusiasm for stitching together the details with people in mind, their behaviors, and interactions with each other.
Together, we’re working hard to marry the digital and physical environments to maximize the flow of creativity. What does that mean? Organizations must include workplace transformation initiatives across multiple business units.
Facilities oversees how the company designs the physical office spaces for different types of work
IT engages more deeply in how technology enables and hinders productivity and how it enhances the ways we live, communicate, and even learn
Human resources oversees the organizational change management efforts to prepare people for the workplace transformation
When the Physical and Digital Worlds Merge
Flexible and collaborative environments need to account for diverse work styles and personalities to foster innovation.
It may seem questionable that a company that creates a digital world also focuses on the physical. After all, advances in technology have made it easier for people to work anywhere, anytime. Despite our reliance on technology to communicate and connect with others, an underlying basic need remains. As humans, we crave connection and meaningful relationships, including at work. According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a sense of belonging is a significant need that motivates human behavior – just like food, shelter, and safety.
The researchers at Haworth look at all facets of the work environment. For example, to promote collaboration, it might make sense to integrate high top tables and bar stools in a workspace. Their research shows that this gives people a sense of being out in a social situation to enhance creative thinking.
Collaboration can also benefit from other types of experiences. Small groups can use huddle rooms when they need to work on team tasks. For moments when employees need to work on their own, creating a smaller space with dim lighting and a couch might put the employee in a headspace to focus and think independently.
Collaboration technologies and workspaces need to be designed to solve problems and not cause them. People need to find their balance between convergent and divergent thinking, structured and unstructured work. They need the right digital and physical spaces to support all types of work.
The pendulum has swung a bit too far with regard to open office designs. The trendy practice overlooks the various ways we work – quiet spaces to do deep work, huddle spaces for brief meetings, social spaces, and large spaces for collaboration. For us, our goal is to help companies seamlessly integrate physical and digital workspaces. In the end, we want to see collaboration become ubiquitous, and work silos disappear.