With this in mind, employers would be wise to heed the advice from the CEO of leading telecommunications company Telenor, who encourages employers to ‘think of offices not as real estate but as a communication tool.’
We’ve seen the importance of collaboration for effective business-as-usual activities. Yet, the benefits go further. Collaboration can also be a source of competitive advantage. Improved networking can stimulate creativity within your workforce, which can spark innovations that will set you ahead of your competitors. If you want proof, look no further than technology giants Apple, Samsung and Yahoo which have all embraced this phenomenon in their workspace design.
Scott Birnbaum, Vice President of Samsung Semiconductor quipped that ‘the most creative ideas aren’t going to come while sitting in front of your monitor.’ Instead, collaboration and innovation occur when ‘people collide.’
Steve Jobs famously altered the design of the Apple Headquarters to ensure that the wash rooms and shared spaces were at the centre of the open plan layout, as he wanted to force chance encounters and encourage serendipity. Yahoo also values these informal interactions. Its Chief of Human Resources acknowledged: