Location, location, location: where we work matters, and the conversation around our workspaces has never been more fractured and frenzied. We’ll leave an in-depth exploration of the virtues of working at home, at the office, or with a hybrid approach to others (see well-thought-out considerations here, here, and here), instead, we’ll look at some of the ways businesses can get creative in their approach to work venues as a strategy for innovation. We’ve already explored how to work in more innovative ways on our blog and in our case studies, but what about ways to use where you work as a piece of your innovation strategy?
The importance of the “where” decision is underrated. We know that some spaces are simply inhospitable to ensuring creative, productive hours for knowledge workers (who doesn’t dread a cubicle farm?), but aside from avoiding a sterile field of sadness, consideration for workspaces is often overlooked as an innovation ingredient because we just don’t think about it–our workspaces are so ingrained into our habits around work that they fade into the background as an accepted setting for whatever else we need to plan or accomplish.
We’ve seen first-hand that choice of space can be a major factor in the success of innovation tools like design sprints. To unlock true collaboration and coming-together of people with differing goals and priorities, a neutral space can be critical in shaping the mood, leveling the playing field, and helping participants shed assumptions and baggage from prior experiences in the spaces in which they’re accustomed to working.
Employers of knowledge workers may find that there is opportunity in creating options for workspaces that allow employees to occasionally collide with people working outside their usual networks and niches. Startups know that there is inherent value in people-density, and they’re definitely on to something; the particle nature of human behavior has been observed before in everything from startup communities, traffic patterns, and crowd behavior, and the power of serendipitous meetings as a driving force for wildly successful business opportunities cannot be overstated–look no further than Paypal or Yahoo to understand the value of collisions between smart people working on problems no one imagined could be related.
Variety in workspace options can foster connections that supercharge problem-solving and maximize business opportunities, but some businesses are also tapping into this benefit as part of their talent retention strategies. Why? Simple: the flexibility is attractive for top-tier talent, and all employees are looking for ways to set themselves apart as desirable places to work.
Fifth Third Bank is headquartered in Cincinnati but boasts a footprint that extends across the US Midwest and South. The institution has committed to engaging talent by encouraging high-potential employees to spend more time working in the communities they serve. “I enjoy the flexibility I have to work in alternative spaces,” says Nicholas Dunigan, Associate Wealth Management Advisor for Fifth Third Bank. “It’s an opportunity to get out of my office and make connections that I otherwise might not have–it’s a great way to broaden my community while still getting my work done, and I’m glad Fifth Third has encouraged this option as part of a flexible work environment.”
Are you local to Louisville, KY (or have employees who are) and could use a home-away-from-home to keep your best employees engaged? Send us a note! We have hot desk and conference room space we make available to our corporate partners and friends because above all, we believe in the power of serendipity.