If your company is like most offices, your seating arrangement was determined by someone else. Arbitrary or not, you had no or little control over where your team sets up shop. But did you know that it has a big impact on how your team runs?
Think about it. What’s the layout like? What furniture are you using? How difficult is it to get from A to B? Who is seated where?
It may sound strange, but you can get much more effective project management teams by altering your office layout. You can promote communication and team cohesion for no more expense than an afternoon of moving furniture around.
How, you ask?
Seat According to Workflow
If your projects flow according to a rigid, sequential system, you might want to seat people accordingly. Having the QA team within arm’s reach of the developers can save valuable time, as the QA team can just pull a developer over and demonstrate a bug or issue, instead of having to submit lengthy and confusing emails.
Move Cooperating Teams Together
In my old agency, we used to pack account teams into specific areas of the production floor. The designer, QA rep, writer, and project manager would be together in one spot for streamlined communication. When individual team members rotated to different accounts, they would switch seats and move to their new group’s location.
Leave Plenty of “Watercooler” Room
When planning a new layout, leave room for people to stand around and interact. This could be impromptu meetings or simple friendly chats. The point is having friendly, open spaces that promote team interaction and bonding.
You also need to take your team’s needs into account when building pedestrian routes. Team members who need privacy should be kept away from meeting spots and other high traffic areas, or given other means by which they can filter out distractions.
Culture vs. Work Process
Switching seat assignments is a great opportunity for some team input. They can tell you who they work with best, and offer suggestions on how things can be streamlined. However, you need to make sure they aren’t just gathering all their friends in one basket. This could potentially be even more distracting and unproductive than their original positions. The same thing with team members who don’t get along. Placing them together might just be asking for trouble.
Moving furniture and cubicles around might be intimidating, but you can try starting small and focusing on seat assignments. Once you’re more comfortable with the idea, you can be a bit more daring and plan out an office space that will really allow your team’s productivity to flow.
Image credit, Flickr, Margarida Sardo