The Workspace Ecosystem: How the Smallest of Changes Can Have the Biggest Impact

The Workspace Ecosystem: How the Smallest of Changes Can Have the Biggest Impact on

Learn about the factors that go into a high-functioning workspace before you dive into changes

In its simplest terms, an ecosystem is a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. It can be as small as a fish tank or as vast as an ocean.

Throughout the course of a day, humans exist in a variety of ecosystems – from home to the mall to the supermarket to the office. It’s that last ecosystem, however, that often consumes a large chunk of the day – and, according to a recent survey, 63% of workers feel disengaged while they are there.

Disengagement really isn’t a good thing for any ecosystem. If nature has taught us one thing, it’s that the smallest of changes can have significant impacts on the entire system. A slight rise in ocean temperatures, for example, can have a negative impact on ocean life. Similarly, disengagement can be lethal for your company’s productivity.

The workspace world

Unlike many of nature’s ecosystems, human ecosystems have an added layer of complexity because of, well, people. Like home, work has a tremendous interpersonal aspect. Humans need spaces that inspire their passions, support teamwork, and enhance effective communication.

According to a white paper from Allsteel, “What Matters In Workplace Strategy,” work is more than a process from input to output.

“Work environments are rather complex ecosystems, with many interweaving elements and dependencies. Some causal relationships are obvious – change an environmental condition, like lighting or ambient temperature, and productivity will be affected; while others aren’t so easy to spot.”

Don’t start painting the walls, yet

The problem with change is that all too often people jump in without realizing short term, long term, and invisible implications. For example, some offices that eagerly embraced the open-space floor plan realized the error of their decision as employees sought private spaces – like stairwells and nearby coffee shops – to be able to work without distractions.

To create smart change, it’s imperative to consider the total picture; the total ecosystem.

“We know that our spaces need to be designed to stimulate ideas and innovation, allow for very rapid iterations of often-gray concepts, and be able to go from concept to product or service very quickly, all at a competitive cost,” writes Bob Fox in Work Design Magazine.

Building your work world

Designing the work ecosystem comes down to four interconnected key principles, according to Jan Johnson, Vice President of Design and Workplace Resources at Allsteel:

  • Alignment: The workplace must be able to effectively respond to business strategies, economic realities, organizational culture, demographics, and social changes. When organizations are not able to respond to the realities around them, the ecosystem and the living organisms within are placed under tremendous stress.
  • Effectiveness: In order to improve effectiveness, it’s important to understand the work practices of individuals and teams to better provide for those needs. When there is a fit between what people do, how they do it, and what the workplace provides for them to be able to work, overall performance is enhanced.
  • Efficiency: This is an examination of the physical space, other assets, and resources, and using them as wisely as possible. One example is to link areas together to address noise issues.
  • Agility: Ecosystems suffer when they are too rigid to adapt to changes. In the workplace, there must be flexibility, physical adaptability, and even user choice. For example, some employees may need to stand to work, others to sit, and others to do a little bit of both. Some may be able to work quite well in the open space, while others may need a more quiet location. Providing choice encourages employees to use resources more effectively and to be better able to adapt the space to changing needs.

Solutions for your world

If you’re interested in redesigning your work ecosystem to make efficient and effective changes for your business and team, Compass Office Solutions is able to assist you. From space design to furniture options to acoustic technology, our goal it to make sure you’re ready today for whatever comes up tomorrow. Call us at 954.430.4590 or fill out our online form to get started.