Article: How to maximise employee collaboration on a budget

Employee Engagement

How to maximise employee collaboration on a budget

Developing a comprehensive change management plan helps minimise operational disruptions during the transition, ensuring a smooth process, advises JLL's Lim EeTiong.
How to maximise employee collaboration on a budget

Effective employee collaboration is the cornerstone of success in today's dynamic and fast-paced workplace environment. In an era where innovation and adaptability are critical for staying competitive, the ability of employees to collaborate effectively has become more important than ever. 

The process enables individuals to leverage their collective skills, knowledge, and expertise to tackle complex challenges, generate creative solutions, and drive organisational growth. By working together towards common goals and objectives, employees can achieve higher levels of productivity, efficiency, and success.

And most importantly, innovation thrives in collaborative environments where diverse perspectives are valued, and ideas are freely shared and explored. When employees collaborate, they bring together a wealth of insights, experiences, and viewpoints, fueling creativity and sparking innovation. By fostering a culture of collaboration, organisations can unlock the full potential of their workforce and unleash a wave of innovation that propels them ahead of the competition. 

However, achieving seamless collaboration on a daily basis is neither simple nor inexpensive. So, how can this be made achievable? To gain insights, we turned to Lim EeTiong, General Manager of Project Development Services at JLL Singapore. In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, he emphasised that investing in strategies to foster and facilitate employee collaboration is not merely advantageous—it's imperative for ensuring long-term success and sustainability in today's workplace.

Excerpts from the interview: 

What are some practical approaches or strategies that organisations can adopt to promote collaboration in their workplace design while managing costs?

Design of workplaces has evolved over the years, especially post-pandemic. There is need for tailored solutions in different sectors and scale of businesses. Increasingly, we are seeing organisations reinforcing their business culture and improving productivity through their office workspace.

The first thing to consider would be growth of the organisation. There is need to future-proof the workplace by having flexible and adaptable space design. In addition, having activity-based workspaces and mobile workstations can help meet collaboration needs with long term return on investment. 

The second consideration would adoption of technology. Organisations should focus on integrating systems that support collaboration. This includes high-speed internet access, video conferencing capabilities, and interactive displays for sharing ideas and information. These technological features enable seamless communication and collaboration among employees, regardless of their physical location cutting down travels needs for collaboration between staff of international or regional offices.

Creating spaces with multiple functions that encourage staff engagement and interactions is another effective strategy. This can be achieved through thoughtful space programming, incorporating communal areas, shared pantries, and huddle corners where employees can come together and exchange ideas. Repurposing underutilised areas or implementing shared workstations can also optimise space utilisation while promoting collaboration increasing effective headcount of the workplace. 

Promoting collaboration in workplace design while managing costs requires a thoughtful and strategic approach. Involving employees in the design process is crucial. By seeking their feedback and input, organisations can ensure that the workplace design addresses their needs and preferences while aligning with vision of the company. 

How important are flexible and multifunctional spaces in promoting collaboration, and how can organisations incorporate these elements into their workplace design?

Flexible and multi-functional spaces are the key to future proofing the workplace promoting collaboration within organisations. By incorporating these elements into workplace design, organisations can create environments that are adaptable to changing needs, foster collaboration, and enhance productivity.

Designing multipurpose spaces with collapsible partitions allows for easy reconfiguration thus enabling the flexibility to adapt to different needs. Providing diverse work settings, such as lifestyle spaces, workstations, and work points, caters to different preferences and work styles as well.

Taking client input on spaces that suit their collaboration needs ensures that the design aligns with specific requirements and facilitates effective collaboration with external partners. Incorporating technology, sustainability, and landscaping enhances the adaptability of workplace environment, creating spaces that support flexibility for collaboration, innovation, and well-being. Encouraging activity-based working (ABW) with unassigned seating also promotes a dynamic and collaborative atmosphere, encouraging interaction and cross-team collaboration.

Are there any affordable or budget-friendly tech solutions that organisations can implement to support collaboration in their workplace?

Yes, there are affordable tech solutions that organisations can implement to support collaboration in their workplace.

Collaboration software such as Microsoft Teams, Trello, Google Drive, and Asana provide cost-effective solutions for real-time collaboration, task management, and document sharing. Video conferencing tools and software now an affordable technology allow remote collaboration while minimising travel costs. 

Data storage through the use of cloud storage services offer a cost-efficient and sustainable way to store and access shared documents. Project management tools streamline collaboration and task assignments. Finally, digital whiteboards and collaboration tools provide a low-cost alternative to physical whiteboards, facilitating virtual brainstorming and idea sharing.

How important is it to involve employees in the workplace design process, and how can organisations effectively solicit feedback and input from their workforce?

Involving employees in the workplace design process is crucial for creating an optimal work environment. 

By soliciting feedback and input from employees, organisations can ensure that the workplace design supports individual productivity, team collaboration, and overall well-being. Involving employees in the design process also fosters a sense of ownership and engagement. When employees have a say in their workspace, they feel a sense of pride and are more likely to be satisfied, engaged and productive. Furthermore, involving employees brings diverse perspectives to the table. 

To effectively solicit feedback and input from employees, organisations can employ various strategies. Surveys and questionnaires provide a structured approach to gather feedback on specific design aspects. Focus groups or workshops allow for in-depth discussions and idea exchanges. Observation and shadowing enable organisations to understand how employees work and identify pain points or opportunities for improvement.

Dedicated feedback channels, like suggestion boxes or online platforms, can help gather thoughts and ideas. Pilot programs and prototypes also allow employees to test out design solutions. One important element is ensuring clear and transparent communication throughout the process so that it keeps employees informed and engaged.

How can organisations align their goals for sustainable workplace design with their budget constraints in a high-cost real estate market?

There are several strategies that can be used to help organisations balance their workplace needs with budget constraints. 

Firstly, it's important to prioritise sustainability goals, ensuring they remain at the forefront of the design process, even within budget limitations. To make informed decisions, organisations should conduct a cost-benefit analysis, evaluating the financial and environmental impacts of different sustainable design options. 

By extension, incorporating energy-efficient technologies such as LED lighting, efficient HVAC systems, and smart building automation not only contributes to sustainability but also reduces operational costs over the long term. By spreading out the costs of implementing sustainable features over time, organisations can make progress while staying within their financial means.

Furthermore, collaborating with experts, such as real estate professionals or sustainability consultants, can offer valuable insights and guidance on cost-effective sustainable design strategies tailored to the organisation's needs and budget constraints. Optimising space utilisation through thoughtful planning and utilisation strategies can also help organisations reduce their required square footage, resulting in cost savings.

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What are some common challenges or resistance points that organisations may encounter when implementing changes to their workplace design? How can organisations overcome these challenges?

When making changes to workplace design, companies may encounter various challenges and face resistance points. The first is the lack of awareness or understanding about the value of having a well-designed workplace. The second is when there is a lack of leadership support where a traditional mindset is applied, which is not aligned to how workplaces are designed today. Another challenge is when there is resistance to change from employees especially when there is comfort and familiarity to how things have been done over time.

To overcome these hurdles, it is crucial to employ effective strategies. Firstly, organisations should communicate the purpose and benefits of the changes to address any lack of awareness or understanding among employees. Leadership support is vital, and leaders should champion the design changes, communicate their importance, and provide the necessary resources and guidance. Involving employees in the design process helps mitigate resistance to change by fostering a sense of ownership and participation. 

Developing a comprehensive change management plan helps minimise operational disruptions during the transition, ensuring a smooth process. Lastly, organisations must align the design changes with their company culture to prevent resistance caused by misalignment especially further down the road.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, #PracticalTips, #HRTech, #HRCommunity

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