Creating Collaborative Culture Requires Mix Of Spaces For Privacy, Interaction

It sounded like a great way to build collaboration — create an open space where employees could grab a cup of coffee and mingle. The goal was to encourage the informal conversations that are essential to creating a collaborative culture. But instead of mingling and sharing ideas, people grabbed a cup of coffee and returned to their desks, says Anne-Laure Fayard, a professor of management at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.

What went wrong? It didn't help that the new open space was near the CEO's office; part of the problem was that employees didn't want top management to think they were sitting around chit-chatting during work time. But the real issue ran much deeper: employees did not perceive sitting in the coffee room, even discussing work with their colleagues, as working. The locations associated with work in this company were the desks and meeting rooms.

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