When we talk about collisions in the workplace, we aren’t talking about interpersonal accidents or physical damage. We’re referring to an unexpected collision of ideas and people. We’re talking about chance meetings that encourage team members to connect in ways that wouldn’t happen on a normal work day. These types of collisions often result in fascinating collaborations, interesting results, and an overall happier team environment.
If these collisions are so good for an office environment, is there a way to create more of them? We already know that physical environment plays a huge role in the health and happiness of your employees. And while the act of chance meetings and unexpected conversations can’t be forced, we can create an environment that fosters the potential for more of these encounters to happen.
Here’s how to take that idea a step further, and reinvent your office space to generate more positive collisions:
Rethink Your Physical Office Design
Ask yourself: how can we break down walls physically and figuratively? Look around at your furniture set-up and see if it facilitates or prevents conversation from happening. Is the room open or closed? A lot can change with a simple office redesign. Creating a more open environment that offers room for movement, conversations, and random meet-ups is essential to creating spontaneous collisions.
Recreate the Infamous Water Cooler
The water cooler was the original collision spot in the workplace. It’s a space where people from all different sides of the company visit on a daily basis, and provides an opportunity for spontaneous conversations to happen. Take this idea and recreate it in multiple places throughout the office. Whether that be a shared common area, a coffee cart or a game room, these spaces have the biggest opportunity of creating positive collisions. Consider incorporating the following design components:
- Lounge-style furniture that resembles a coffee shop and encourages casual meet n’ greets.
- Bar-style seating where employees can take a break, meet new people and have on-the-go conversations.
- Easy access to outlets and wifi, encouraging people to visit these areas more often and spend more time exploring the space.
Celebrate Your Team in one Central Location
One of these “water cooler” spaces could be a team celebration board. Use the board to encourage members to hang a photo of themselves and share their name, social media handles, fun facts, “about me” sections, and whatever else you’d like to include. This type of space can spark conversation, similar interests, questions, and more.
Allow Departments to Host “Office Hours” with the Whole Team
Each week, encourage a different department to host “office hours” where anyone from the company can stop by, say hello and ask questions or have casual conversation. Keep it casual and don’t put any rules, standards or outcomes in place. Allow for creativity to take over during this time.
Host Events in the Office
Whether it be hosting an internal happy hour, or inviting an outside speaker, hosting events at the office is a good way to facilitate mingling and more natural conversation between employees from different departments.
Implement “Lunch Roulette”
Once a month, treat a group of team members from 4-5 different departments to lunch. Don’t set an agenda or any expectations for the lunch — apart from having conversation with someone you may not know very well. Lunch Roulette can be one of the most direct ways of creating positive collisions in the workplace.
Collisions in the workplace can result in generating new ideas, expanding what it means to think creatively, and fostering stronger community between your team members. Companies are working toward creating more intentional opportunities for collisions. After all, research shows that employees who feel connected and engaged yield almost 150 percent higher earnings per share than their counterparts.
Next time you step into your office space, consider all of the ways you can create a more collaborative and collision-filled environment. The benefits you may experience range from attracting better talent, to more profitable and productive work flows. Looking for more ideas to make this happen? Reach out to us and let us know how we can help you tackle this challenge.