Optimizing your workplace for learning and productivity

The best businesses are constantly learning, collaborating and changing. A dynamic business – one that is active, aware and willing to experiment – is a successful one.

Having the right people in the right roles is crucial. But something else can help optimize the potential of your business – your workplace. Making the below two changes to your work environment can enhance learning, boost collaboration and lead to a more successful business – and even a happier workforce.

Update your technology

The first thing you can to do maximize learning and collaboration in your workplace? Update the technology in your office. It’s not always easy – or cheap. But equipping your workplace with the latest technology is a surefire way to optimize the potential of your business.

Outdated technology is detrimental to the workplace – and it can result in disgruntled employees. You can’t focus on what’s really important if you’re battling out-of-date devices and slow Internet connections.

NetSmarter.com recommends that offices revamp their technology every two years. That includes computers, printers, fax machines, phones and software.

But if all-new technology every two years isn’t feasible for your office, upgrading your Internet connection should be at the top of the list.  Changing your Internet service requires less time – and fewer resources – and can still have a big impact for your business.

Having access to a high-speed connection goes a long way toward improving learning and collaboration in the workplace. With high-speed Internet service, employees can access an abundance of information online faster. And they can better collaborate – with each other and the larger community – using high-tech tools like video chat, screen-sharing and virtual meetings.

The FCC currently ranks fiber-optic Internet, offered by providers like Verizon and Google Fiber, as the fastest and most reliable Internet service. But since it’s a fairly new technology, it’s not available everywhere yet. If you can’t get fiber Internet at your office, try high-speed cable or DSL.

Rearrange your space

It’s a fact – the physical environment of your workplace has a big effect on productivity, creativity and performance. Everything from the temperature of your office to the support of your desk chairs can impact how your business functions.

The best office plan for you depends on what the primary goal of your workplace is. The perfect layout to support efficiency, for example, might not be the one that best fosters communication.

Though the goals of every company vary, more and more workplaces are shifting towards an open-workspace design. As office hierarchy is replaced by team collaboration, open workplaces are growing at a double-digit pace. In place of closed-off offices, low-walled cubicles, shared workspaces and transparent conference rooms are becoming the norm.

The benefits of open offices are many – especially for learning and collaboration. Workers can communicate with each other, learn from each other and share ideas with fewer barriers. And open office plans are more modern and more conducive to wireless, mobile technology – a draw for many employees.

But it’s not quite that easy. As one workplace design specialist notes, the best workplaces balance open spaces with private (and quiet) areas. Experts recommend supplementing collaborative areas with private meeting rooms and secluded alcoves. And some offices minimize the distractions of open workplaces with white noise and soundproof cubicles.

What are your tips for optimizing learning and collaboration in the workplace?

Alexis Caffrey is a freelance writer with a focus on technology, new media, and design. In a former life she was a graphic designer based out of New York, NY. She actively (some would say obsessively) follows entertainment news and pop culture. You can reach Alex via her email.

  • Veerle De Clerck

    Integrate a great ‘third place’ in the office. A WorkCafé setting turns the standard office canteen into a smart space where people can socialize and learn from peers in an informal way during the busy moments (around breakfast, lunch time, afternoon coffee break) or get individual work done in a more relax setting.

  • Ameco

    Yes, you right, it’s not quite easy. Open offices are quite noisy places. And the noise is bad thing for our productivity and effectivity. So it’s very important to arrange areas of our offices with right proportion. Communication and collaboration vs contemplation and individual work…