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How to Reconfigure Spaces When Teams Change

When teams change, it can be stressful for everyone, especially if the team has been together for a long period of time. In modern workplaces, change is unavoidable. New projects come along and they require different skill sets. What worked for one project might not work for another. Team members may have to cope with the separation of long-term co-workers and changes in management. When this happens, managers have to deal with the stress of the remaining team.

The team needs to make a fresh start and let go of their comfort with the past. Often, team building exercises, group meetings and potluck lunches can go a long way towards helping with new group bonding. Some managers set up one-on-one meetings between new co-workers so that they can learn more about each other. They can discuss their skill sets, experience and goals for moving forward. Depending on the number of co-workers, these meetings can take time, but they’re often extremely helpful.

If everything in the office environment stays exactly the same, it may send the message to employees that they don’t have to adapt. That’s why it’s important to change the environment to reflect the new team’s configuration. Desks, cubicles, meeting tables and other elements can easily be changed to send the message that it’s time to move forward with the new team arrangement.

How should you reconfigure the space? The first priority is to make it completely different than the space that existed before. Some team members may remain from the previous team. There’s always a possibility that they could form cliques if you’re not careful. One of the things on your list should be to separate these team members and have them sit next to new people.

Consider workflow and productivity. The new team may need to communicate in different ways. Make sure that the way employees are grouped makes it easy for them to access the individuals they need to talk with most often. This should be one of the major considerations in seating arrangements. You may also need to rethink your place in the office. Do you need to sit closer to employees so they can access you quickly? In some industries, this makes sense. In other businesses, if you’re too close to employees, they’re often intimidated.

Collaboration should be another concern for your new team. Do they have an area to collaborate on projects? If not, create one. You can accomplish this even if you’re on a tight budget. You don’t need to buy an abundance of new office furniture or completely remodel the office to create a collaboration space. All you need is a table and some chairs where team members can meet. This area should be located away from other team members’ work spaces so that meetings won’t interrupt their work. If you have an extra office available, that’s great, but if you don’t you can simply move the collaboration space as far away from other team members as possible. If you have the furniture to create more than one collaboration space, do it if you can. The more collaboration areas you have, the better.

If you have the opportunity to order new furniture, look for tables that can be configured into several different shapes. This will allow team members to create appropriate collaboration spaces for different kinds of meetings. It’s an extra perk if you can incorporate charging stations for laptops and other devices. Many of these tables also have cutouts that allow for speakerphones and other types of communication devices.

You may have the option of completely changing the way people sit. For example, you could create a separate area for private, quiet work for individuals who need to concentrate. They can avoid interruptions in these areas. Then, you can create a separate area for individuals who need to interact with colleagues on a regular basis. Workstations don’t have to be permanent. People can change their seating based on their current needs.

When you make major changes to the style of the work environment, you will help change the expectations of the team. They’ll forget the past more quickly because things look and feel so different. Their interactions will change dramatically along with their expectations.