Sponsored by Patcraft
64 INTERIORS & SOURCES NOVEMBER 2015 interiorsandsources.com
While collaboration has been
hailed as a kind of magic bullet
for improving workplace efficiency in the corporate sector,
it’s important to note that effective workplace environments are
never one-dimensional. They
are often complex spaces that
require a careful balancing act
between different types and
modes of work. According to
Gensler’s 2013 U.S. Workplace
Survey (WPS)2, the most effective, productive workplaces are
those that balance focus and
collaboration, providing employees with space to work intensely on individual
tasks, and to gather with colleagues to brainstorm and work together.
As the Gensler study concluded, “Our survey findings demonstrate that
focus and collaboration are complementary work modes. One cannot be
sacrificed in the workplace without directly impacting the other. We know that
both focus and collaboration are crucial to the success of any organization in
today’s economy” 4.
Perhaps nowhere are these corresponding work requirements needed
more than in the healthcare industry, which is undergoing transformation
on an unprecedented scale. Not only do medical facilities need to balance
individual workspaces and areas built for collaboration, but they also must
protect patient privacy to meet Health Insurance Portability and Information
Act (HIPPA) requirements. Spaces that are designed with flexibility in mind
can help them meet these often competing requirements.
As a result, many healthcare providers today—whether retrofitting or
building from scratch—plan around a central communication center, where
work areas are open to any employee, regardless of the level or specialty.
Exam rooms are placed around the periphery creating easy access back and
forth from the common work area and can easily be transformed for other
uses when medical assistants wheel in carts, for example. Private meeting
spaces can also be placed along the periphery of the facility—areas that are
not dedicated workspaces or rooms set up for specific patient needs. Rather,
they are flex rooms—or “hot desking” spaces—that can be used if a doctor
needs privacy to counsel a family, or if staff members need to make private
phone calls, for example.
In addition to the common work spaces, surveys reveal that healthcare
employees at all levels now prefer shared lounge areas as well. In the past,
healthcare facilities featured separate dining and relaxing areas for doctors,
nurses, and other staff. But regardless of specialty or title, medical staff
members today prefer a shared space that feels more like a restaurant or
lounge so they can mingle.
Flexible spaces even extend beyond staff areas for many healthcare
facilities as they continually work to improve the patient experience—a key
element of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) in which hospitals are
reimbursed based on patient satisfaction rather than services rendered3. For
example, some children’s hospitals no longer provide treatment in the patient
rooms and instead designate them as “safe havens,” where patients can rest
and relax with family where they’re shielded from the stress of their medical
concerns. Small office areas outside of patient rooms can be flexible enough
to give shots, take tests, and more importantly, allow patients to remove
themselves from treatments when they go back to their personal spaces.
Healthcare administrators are finding that patients thrive in these communal spaces, and oftentimes, they don’t want to be in private rooms
(contrary to popular belief). Cancer patients, for example, want to have
the ability to converse with each other, learn from each other, and support
each other. They don’t want to be isolated. And healthcare providers are
ACTIVE DISENGAGEMENT—Disengaged employees who undermine their jobs
ACTIVITY-BASED WORKING—Premise that no employee “owns” or has an
assigned workstation, providing designated areas for specific tasks.
CO-WORKING—Style of work that involves a shared working environment
(often an office) for workers not employed by the same organization.
CROSS-POLLINATION—Bringing together employees from various office
segments, allowing their knowledge and skills to influence each other.
FLIPPED CLASSROOM—Form of blended learning in which students learn new
content after hours often by watching video lectures and spending classroom
time doing (what used to be) homework with assistance from and interaction with
teachers and peers.
HACKING—Modifying or changing something in an extraordinary or
HOT-DESKING—Workspace organization system which involves multiple
workers using a single physical workstation or surface during different
INCUBATOR—A co-working space that fosters collaboration and typically targets
socially minded businesses and entrepreneurs.
NOMADS—Workers who are not bound to a fixed work space.
SYMBIOSIS—Interdependent relationships between employees in different company
TOUCHDOWN SPACES—Sparsely decorated area for remote workers who plug in
and work for a brief period of time.
Collaborative Workspace Terms
Today's healthcare and educational
environments (seen here) are designed
around people, support multiple types
of activities, and are comfortable, safe,