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Switch Seats, Change Your Company? Why Where You Sit Matters

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Does it matter where your employees sit in the Office? Actually, says playing the role quite a bit, Ben Waber, president and CEO of Boston-based Sociometric solutions, who studies workplace interaction with sensors and other methods.

Waber says that between 40 and 60 per cent of all work interactions, including face-to-face, email, instant messages, phone calls and other covers those people who sit near you at work. The isolated existence can increase productivity, but it can also create an environment where people don’t make connections with others, to promote relationships that can spur efficiency and innovation. But there are steps you can take to overcome challenges that static seating and keep your team interact.

1. Assess your culture.

Before you remove the seat for floating workstations, warns Wada that you need to make changes at the same time, the corporate culture and work reality in mind. If every office gets trapped in the paper files which would take two weeks to move, you will not like to do ordinary work station displacements since it would be too disruptive. If you have employees whose work requires integrity, such as a law or financial services companies, shifting to an all-open-plan to encourage collaboration to be counterproductive.

“Keep in mind that your people are and how they work before you start making decisions about how to get them to interact with other employees. If you make changes without taking it into consideration, it can be a waste of time, “he said.

2. Make logical connections.

Look at the teams that regularly work together and try to place them close to each other. Need marketing and development teams to interact? What would happen if your sales team who sat near the Finance Department so they can better understand each other? Locate the team who work near or those that could be more effective with proximity and train Office seating arrangements to meet these opportunities.

3. Understand the importance of seating.

Waber says entrepreneurs must also understand office seating social order. Millennial workers may be fine with an open floor plan where everyone’s workstation sees the same, GenX or Boomer generation employees assign importance where they sit. Removed from a windowed offices to sit on a single workstation can feel like a demotion in certain ways, “he said. When you design new seating chart, consider how your employees feel about their workspaces, and whether this type of differentiation, “he said.

4. Engineer serendipity.

If you are not constantly change the workstations, create places where people meet. Centralized coffee or snack as well as game rooms or other places where employees can gather to work together or take a break will give them opportunities to interact. Encourage employees to get to know others in different departments and reward those who make an effort to reach out to other departments and to work together more effectively.

5. experiment with short-term seating changes.

If it is a one-day desktop swap or a combined Department work session in a conference room, looking for ways to get your key people to understand other departments and how they work. These types of contacts, and changes can help spur connections, new ideas and efficiencies that would not have happened otherwise, “he said.

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