Slow decisions are costly, and the inability to get real-time information is frustrating to staff. Anything that slows down the information exchange or cooperation from team members affects the speed and accuracy of the decision. One of the simplest ways to accelerate decision-making is to pay attention to the design of the workspace. Workspaces designed for decision-making support health and interaction.
Chances are you’ve worked in a company in which the workspace was a large room filled with cubicles organized into clusters and separated by walls. In traditional companies, where authority designates power and status, senior personnel get first dibs on the coveted corner office with windows. But when it comes to decision-making and employee interaction, this design just doesn’t work. Cubicles and corner offices restrict contact and open communication.
To accelerate decision-making by cleverly using available space, try the following:
Remove physical barriers. Rethinking the whole cubicle design is one way to remove physical barriers, but paying attention to how people move through the space is important, too. Ever noticed how people make their own paths when the sidewalks don’t take them where they want to go? It’s a matter of following the flow of movement.
Employees need to lead the design because they’ll know what’s needed to facilitate information exchange and social interaction — two key ingredients for more informed and faster decision-making. Follow the path they naturally use to work with their peers.
Think about lighting. Some people are highly sensitive to the electromagnetic fields put out by lighting; for some, it can even impair their functionality, including their decision-making capacity. Some evidence also indicates that fluorescent lights block the alpha brainwave state, which is required for creativity.
Consider the role of color in creating mood. Try to match the mood to the function of the space. For instance, green is relaxing, allowing employees to shift from hyper stress into a more creative state. Include a color design expert on the design team to match the color with the purpose of the space.
For ideas, take a look at the use of color in the design of a co-working office in London, England.
Think about ambient soundand proximity to nature. Both are ways to reduce stress and support better well-being and decision-making. The right kind of music can calm emotions and reduce stress. One business office was located beside a pasture with horses. Employees visited the horses during their lunch break, returning to the office much more relaxed.
If you’re looking for ideas on how you can revamp your workspace, try these suggestions:
Ask your staff. Ask employees for ideas on what changes would make sharing information and making decisions easier. You may be surprised by the answers you get. Stand up desks! Why not?
Consult with a designer specializing in workplace design. Professional designers know how to match the design with the purpose and intention of the space. Engaging a savvy designer who incorporates the kind of activity and interaction desired will produce a more productive and inviting environment.
Check out websites offering design advice. You can find a lot of information online about design trends, design principles, examples of good and bad designs, and so on. Just enter “workplace design trends” into your browser’s search feature. Also, here are tips on workplace design.