How to Set Up Office Neighborhoods That Create Synergy

It’s not merely enough to have a business model that supports both in-person and remote employees. Instead, your new business model should be flexible enough to cater to the flexibility of the different work styles and schedules.

Office neighborhoods software allows you to meet these demands head-on. As such, knowing the different office neighborhood sections enables you to put seats and employees together in a way that supports every individual, team, and department in your organization.

Our desk booking software solution also makes it easier for employees to easily find their seats as they navigate through different tasks and demands, like navigating from individual work to collaboration activities.

What Are Office Neighborhood?

In its simplest form, this is a combination of the open office and the traditional cube office floor plan but with a higher resemblance to an open office plan. However, the office neighborhood layout is grouped into synergetic workers, making employees members of a community or group rather than individuals in different departments.

The strategy uses urban physics, an engineering concept that gets insights from studying interactions between people in a city and discovering problems, trends, and opportunities. It then uses this information to design an optimal working environment with better interactions.

Matching Employee Needs

The more your office neighborhood fits your employee needs, the more effective it is. For instance, an office neighborhood layout incorporates quiet and collaborative sections, giving employees various options to work more productively.

By including sections where employees can brainstorm and interact, you create a space that caters to every employee’s working style. The strategic placement of your desks additionally ensures you follow the social distancing protocols.

Neighborhood Sections

Typically, each section seats at least 30 people, and the groups are based on the function, activity, project, or amenities available for work. Additionally, office neighborhood seating is organized into either desk hoteling or hot desking.

The hot desking seating arrangement allows employees to select their desks every day on a first-come, first-served basis. The desk hoteling will enable employees to pre-book a desk space either by the hour, day, or week and check-in once they arrive at the office. Different groups can also book a group of desks.

Different Types Of The Office Neighborhood Layouts

There are many different suggestions on the types of neighborhood sections you should have in your office. But the trick is to get the one that suits your employee’s needs the best. As such, the most common types of neighborhoods include the following:

  • Open seating office neighborhoods
  • Team specific office neighborhoods
  • Activity-based office neighborhoods

Open Seating Office Neighborhoods

As the name suggests, the open seating office neighborhood allows employees to sit anywhere in the section, as long as the space is accessible to the employee. This plan is perfect for employees that prefer a more flexible work culture since it allows them to work from any desk.

It also caters to specific employee needs, like meeting on a sofa during brainstorming activities instead of rigidly assigned desks or office boardrooms. Ensure these spaces are also equipped with tools like whiteboards to facilitate effective working. An open seating neighborhood is ideal for remote, volunteer, or traveling employees and other visitors.

Team Specific Office Neighborhoods

In this section, only a specific team can sit in the neighborhood. For example, you can have different sections for a sales team floor plan and a customer support team floor plan. The best time to use a team-specific office neighborhood is to provide a custom experience for each employee.

Also, different teams often have different needs. For example, a sales team needs spaces to store sample products while the design team requires large desks and fixed monitors to create product plans and design prototypes. This means that a one-size-fits-all seating setup is not ideal for your employee working sections.

Activity-based Office Neighborhoods

Do you have a special team with special activity needs? If yes, an activity-based office neighborhood is ideal for meeting the needs of these employees. Keep in mind that different floor plans support various work activities, meaning you need a flexible plan when arranging your desk clusters.

As such, this is the perfect seating model if your employees have special requirements for their workstations or if employees need unique spaces for certain types of working activities like group work on occasion.

Examples Of Neighborhoods In Offices

Small and large companies can customize their office neighborhoods entirely. As these examples show, you should aim to build neighborhoods that provide your employees excellent satisfaction instead of adopting the trending options.

  • Google: The Company used urban physics to design their Chicago workspace, thus, creating a neighborhood that looks like a speakeasy. The section has increased connections and innovative creativity among Google employees due to its intimate setting.
  • Groupon: The Company’s conference room is tiki bar-inspired, meaning it provides an escape for employees, an ideal setting for brainstorming ideas.
  • Uber: Uber headquarters have smaller neighborhood sections that provide a unique sense of collaboration, community, and shared support.
  • Gerson Lehrman Group (GLC): their office is arranged into neighborhoods that model the activity-based working neighborhood type, allowing employees to work together on similar projects. 

Implementing And Managing Office Neighborhoods

As mentioned, an office neighborhood includes a variety of sections that include large communal tables, standing desks, pods or focus booths, conference rooms, huddle rooms, hot desks, and breakout spaces.

Prepare First

But before implementing an office neighborhood design, it is essential that you first determine your employee needs. Also, office neighborhood software like Kadence can help you design, schedule, and manage your sections and seating arrangements.

For instance, a modern workplace scheduling system is excellent for gathering workplace analytics to use when designing how to utilize your office space effectively. Our Space Management solution tells you which rooms are used the most by employees, making it easier to understand and fashion your neighborhoods according to employee preferences.

Keep Employees in Mind

Design thinking, together with employee feedback from surveys of running focus groups, put you in your employees’ shoes. This space is excellent for generating ideas to transform your office into fantastic neighborhood sections.

Keep in mind that your seating setup affects your bottom line. As such, you need strategic seating that will boost your ROI and employee productivity. This also means using technology solutions that facilitate your office neighborhood setup. One such solution is desktop booking software.

Desktop Booking Software

office neighborhood

The solution allows you to create a neighborhood with flexible seating arrangements that meet your employees’ needs. For instance, check the request of your employees on the software data and create a seating that fits their demands. Meaning, you offer options like open space or hot desks if that is what your employees want. A desktop booking software also makes it easier for workplace managers to organize seating arrangements based on the specific needs of different departments.

If your office is hybrid, the software can create several types of neighborhoods like bookable seating for hybrid workers that require specific slots during the days they come to the office, open seating for unannounced workers or visitors, and assigned seating for employees that require dedicated seating arrangements.

Make Your Spaces Work For Your People

An excellent workplace scheduling software solution provides added features and capabilities that make setting up and managing an office neighborhood seamless. For instance, features in your software solution might include desk permissions to customize different desks to specific departments or employees, neighborhood reporting to help collect data that is useful for optimizing your office sections, and integration capabilities with tools like Outlook that further enhance office processes. Besides, a synergic office neighborhood section is a perfect system for putting your employees top of mind, making it easier for them to remain motivated, productive, and engaged at work. 

4 new product features to help empower your team for a smooth return to office

As workplace leaders, managers of teams and employers are slowly discovering ways and methods to pull in their troops from remote working comforts, we can all agree that returning to the office for everyone now looks different. 

The office is key for collaboration and should be designed for a great working experience for all. Buzzing with your teammates and co-workers around ideas during focus based project work simply isn’t the same as working solo from home in your pyjamas. What we need are solutions for flexible working to enable the best workplace experience for all. We need solutions with features to make returning to the office easy and exciting that helps empower your team to do their best work – here are some of our latest features you need to know:

  1. Self-certification: keep your employees safe
  2. Multi-device booking: book a space on any device anywhere
  3. Parking: book a space for your ride to work
  4. Floor insights: optimize spaces with deeper data insights

Self-certification: Keep your employees safe

The return to the office post-Covid does mean that the office needs to be a safe environment for your team to return. For your space to be the place your team loves to be it also needs to be the place where your team feels safe. Self-certify will allow the employer to customize their health screening message and policy, as well as allow employees user to self-certify before checking in to their reserved spaces. 

Multi-device booking: Book a space on any device anywhere

To maximise on when you book it’s important to maximise on how you book. Web booking as a new feature adds another dimension to the booking experience with more versatility and flexibility to book in the way you want. 

As an employee, you are now able to create bookings through a web browser in all the same ways you can through the mobile app. Better still, if you are unable to download the app on your mobile device or have limited storage, web-booking is also mobile compatible giving you the same experience either way.

Parking: Book a space for your ride to work

We recognize that commuting to the office in your car, motorbike or bicycle means parking can be tricky, especially at peak times. Hoping space will be available when your mind is focused on the presentation you need to deliver that morning doesn’t add up to a great working experience. For us, we wanted to help create the best booking experience by creating the best booking convenience. 

As an administrator, you can now add and assign parking spaces to a particular building allowing your employees the option to add a parking space to their booking that day. One less thing to worry about.

Floor insights: Optimize space with deeper insights

Insights are heavily focus on capacity and occupancy monitoring, as an administrator, you now have fuller and deeper visibility on space usage of spaces to enable you to make more use out of less. 

With ‘Floor insights’, administrators can see high-level or drilled down statistics into a particular floor and office neighborhoods. See what parts of the floor space are busier than others and allocate resources accordingly to help your teams do their best work – find out more about Kadence analytics here

Book a demo with one of our team today to see how Kadence’s desk booking software could help you create an effective hybrid workplace.

5 Reasons Why Office Neighborhoods Are The Key To Better Workplace Experience

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” So said Steve Jobs back in 2008. But Covid and lockdown life have seriously curtailed teamwork, the beating heart of business. So let’s take a look at how office neighborhoods can help your employees work together again when they’re back in the workplace.

While Zoom, MS Teams and Google Meet have helped enormously with remote working, you still can’t beat the buzz of a face-to-face project kick-off meeting or the thrill of a team working side by side to deliver a big win.

A hybrid working model, where employees divide time between the office and home, is the way forward. You get the best of both worlds: the flexibility of remote working without sacrificing that real-life connection. People still use the office, but only when they need to work face-to-face with colleagues. However, fewer hours in the workplace mean less opportunity for the water-cooler chats and chance encounters that fuel camaraderie in a team.

The office therefore needs to become a more dynamic and flexible environment that makes collaboration easy and accommodates employees’ and teams’ different rhythms – and that’s where office neighborhoods come in.

What is office neighborhood seating?

At first glance, an office neighborhood workspace looks like an open-plan office. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. Office neighborhood seating is a way of organizing your workplace so that people who need to work with each other or have similar needs sit together. It has dedicated areas for different groups – or communities – of employees. Each one typically has 30 to 60 people in it.

By seating a community together, you can make sure they’ve got access to the people and amenities they need to get the most out of their time in the office. These agile neighborhoods can be based on a variety of needs:

  • Functions – group people in the same department together, such as marketing or sales.
  • Projects – bring employees across different departments together to work on a specific project.
  • Activity based working – if certain activities across your organization demand certain working conditions, set up neighborhoods as activity-based for quiet work, collaboration or technical work.
  • Amenities – perhaps a community of employees needs access to certain equipment or amenities, such as breakout rooms, printers or double monitors. Add them to a neighborhood that has these features.

How does neighborhood seating work with hoteling or hot desking?

Office neighborhood seating is usually organized in zones, using either hot desking or desk hoteling.

With hot desking, employees don’t have a permanent desk but choose from a pool of available desks on a first-come, first-served basis each time they come into the office.

Desk hoteling takes things to the next level. Employees pre-book a desk and check-in when they arrive. Desks can be booked by the hour, day, or week. A team can book specific desks at the same time each week, or for the duration of a project they’re all working on.

Hot desking is simpler, but desk hoteling gives employees the benefit of being able to book a spot in advance, potentially a regular, long standing reservation, and so knowing where they’ll be sitting and with whom. It also gives office managers full control over how a workspace is used and a wealth of desk usage data.

Beyond the open plan office: Benefits of the office neighborhood

Collaboration, productivity, efficiency and flexibility. When it’s done well, the office neighborhood approach can form the bedrock of a high performing business.

1. Encourage more collaboration

Sitting together deepens relationships and encourages communication between employees. With well-designed communities, collaboration happens naturally.

Incorporating desk hoteling into office neighborhoods means teamwork can flourish across the whole community. Employees can sit with their own team whenever they come into the office or for the duration of a project, mix it up and work alongside different people in different office neighborhoods if they choose to.

2. Productivity

Did you know? It takes an average of 23 minutes to recover focus after a disturbance, so a 5-minute interruption can end up costing half an hour’s work.

Office neighborhoods ensure employees have the amenities and equipment they need to do their best work. Each team or community gets a space tailored to its own set of needs, allowing them to thrive and avoid needless interruptions to run around the office getting the right equipment – so employees can focus on delivering their best work.

3. More efficient office space management

Hot desking or desk hoteling require fewer desks because employees don’t need their own permanent workstation – that means real estate costs can be trimmed or spaces reconfigured for other purposes.

If you manage your office neighborhoods with desk booking software like Kadence, you’ll have a wealth of desk usage data at your fingertips. You’ll not only be able to see who’s using each desk, when and for how long in real time, but also where people and teams have made recurring bookings over the coming months.

With a bird’s eye view of actual occupancy data combined with future booking Kadences, you’ll be able to generate better forecasts of demand and plan your seating accordingly, or even set up an ‘overspill neighborhood’ to cope with those days when the office gets busier than usual.

4. Flexible office neighborhoods that put people first

If Covid has taught us anything, it’s the importance of adaptability. Office neighborhoods are fluid. Shift modular furniture around, experiment with layouts or add extra meeting spaces without impacting the rest of the office.

For example, design an office neighborhood workspace for a creative team to get their creative juices flowing, an open area for relaxation or desks facing each other for easier communication.

Use data to understand how your people are using the spaces – what works and what doesn’t. Identify trends and patterns to improve or reconfigure different workspaces that best support your people and their needs.

5. A happy and engaged team

Who doesn’t want happy and engaged employees? They’re more productive and loyal, and their positive attitude will have a ripple effect across the company.

According to research by Steelcase, the more people like the environment they work in, the more engaged they tend to be. Office neighborhoods let you craft spaces that are perfectly in tune with the needs of your people to improve employee experience.

Effective desk booking software should do the heavy lifting for you – making it easy for employees to find and book the right spaces they need. For example, a solution like Kadence can offer smart suggestions on the best available spaces to book near your teammates for collaboration, with the right equipment you need.

Kadence Smart Suggestions

How do you set up and manage an office neighborhood?

Your first job when setting up an office neighborhood workspace is to find out what’s needed – and Covid means what’s needed could look very different to before.

Ask your employees what their dream workplace looks like – a simple survey is an easy way to canvas opinion across your organization. What amenities would make them look forward to coming into the office? Who do they need to sit near? What facilities and equipment do they rely on?

If you already use hot desking or desk hoteling and you’ve got desk usage data, go through it with a fine-toothed comb. Are particular areas of your office more popular at certain times of day? Do particular teams favor a certain part of the office? Survey results will help you decide the types of neighborhoods that will work best, the layout and size of each neighborhood and what relaxation and social spaces to factor in.

Manage safe and efficient neighborhoods

Without a space management system in place, managing office neighborhoods can be a big headache. The idea of dynamic workspaces and shared desks may well be off-putting or cause anxiety about health and safety. But supported by the right technology, office neighborhoods can be even safer than traditional office setups.

A effective desk booking software allows your employees to reserve desk space in advance and check in when they arrive. The software also gives you control over where people sit. You can assign people to a certain neighborhood, edit seating plans to visualize capacity or set alerts when specific areas are at capacity, combined with usage data to help you plan your spaces in line with how people are using them with the amenities just where people need them.

Kadence hybrid working software neighborhoods

Teamwork in your hybrid workplace

As Steve Jobs alluded to, a business without teamwork will struggle to achieve great things. And that’s the biggest benefit of office neighborhoods – they’ll help you reinvigorate and nurture collaboration across your organization.

Desk scheduling software is not table stakes for this new era of flexible working, but it does help employees feel safe and offers a great workplace experience when they come to the office. It also gives you tools to manage seating and layouts, so you’re able to create an agile work environment that puts people first and helps them do their best work.

If you’re a business leader, I’m sure you have a million things on your to-do list when it comes to working through your productivity and community-building goals this year. Office neighborhoods could be the key to unlocking the health of your community in a post-pandemic working world — and how it’s that tidy little hack you’ve been on the lookout for.

Hybrid work is here to stay, and the more we come up with ways to capitalize on the endless flexibility it affords us, the more we can foster stronger, happier, and more productive teams than ever before.

Let us help you create a better experience for your teams, have a chat with our hybrid expert team to discover how.