Learning isn't limited to a classroom. In fact, learning is a fundamental business skill. The faster an organization can facilitate the learning of its people and adapt to the unpredictable more quickly than its competitors, the more likely it is to succeed and grow.
For employees to scale innovation and growth, they need to continuously share ideas and learn from each other in real-time, face-to-face and across locations. To put it simply, the workplace must support learning both inside and outside of the office.
Here at Egyptian Workspace Partners, we believe every workspace can be a learning space if it's intentionally designed to support new technologies and all learning preferences. Whether it's a classroom, resource center or even a cafeteria, learning can happen anywhere.
In this article, we'll take a look at three simple ways you can design for learning and development in the workplace, so you can attract and retain talent and invest in producing great employees.
3 Ways to Design for Continuous Learning & Development At Work
1. Offer an Ecosystem of Zones
Just as there are a variety of ways in which we learn, there must also be a variety of spaces in which learning occurs. After all, learning and development opportunities are always changing, influenced by new processes, technologies and the fact that people (and businesses) want to grow.
For this reason, employees need an ecosystem of zones to support different types of learning. These spaces should be considered holistically, not only as part of the building master plan but as part of the learning master plan as well.
When people can choose space based on when, where and how they learn best, their holistic wellbeing and engagement levels will likely improve. Whether they need a conference room to collaborate with others or a quiet space to focus, they can learn, analyze information, develop new points of view and create content.
Users can also choose the level of privacy they need with a range of spaces for collaboration and interaction, as well as shielded or private settings (like study rooms and small breakout rooms) with acoustic and visual privacy for learning.
In addition, these spaces should be agile and flexible to support all types of learning. There should be a plethora of flexible furniture and technology solutions to choose from, so people can easily reconfigure their workspace based on what they need to be successful for the day.
- Leverage cloud-based technology to connect spaces, tools, individuals and teams as they move throughout the day
- Create a variety of work settings to support user choice and different types of learning
- Scale the ecosystem with separate spaces for specific individual, team and organizational needs
- Provide seamless creativity between spaces to support the exchange of information and experiences from tools-to-tools and space-to-space
- Incorporate modular furniture solutions like Steelcase Flex, so people can switch from project work to discussion, focused work and back again
- Provide easily adjustable furniture to fit a range of sizes, needs and preferences to promote movement throughout the day
2. Cater to Community with a Cafeteria
A traditional corporate cafeteria with amenities like free snack options and coffee is more than a tool to attract and retain talent. It's also a gathering place that encourages people to meet, work, network, socialize, reenergize and learn at their own convenience.
For example, Steelcase's WorkCafe transforms underutilized real estate into dynamic destinations that become a hub of activity throughout the workday. With access to this informal cafe space, the possibilities for learning are seemingly endless.
Employees can find a spot to focus on completing a certification or collaborate with their colleagues. They have access to Wi-Fi, power and a mix of booths, standing-height tables and seated-height tables to support exactly how they want to learn.
On top of that, this cafe space can help inspire creativity and build community. When people have the ability to express themselves authentically, they're more likely to feel connected to the company brand and culture, grow their expertise and seek new ways to continue learning.
- Incorporate digital signage and video walls to engage your audience and draw attention to employee achievements, company news, upcoming events, company values and more
- Provide welcoming areas for guests with appropriate views into the space and work in progress
- Create side spaces and nooks so individuals can retain privacy but remain connected to the larger cafe space
- Make nourishment available during and outside of meal hours to support varied and extended work schedules
- Offer informal settings where users can unwind at work to promote a positive sense of wellbeing
- Accommodate different postures with various seating options, primarily using chairs and stools but also lounge seating
- Supports day-to-day technology needs with ample access to power, outlets, Wi-Fi
3. Make Distance Disappear with Technology
Around the world, businesses are struggling with big challenges: how to speed innovation, connect distributed workforces and accelerate learning. And, in the post-COVID world we're living in, new workplace safety measures only amplify these challenges.
As more companies adopt hybrid-remote work strategies, distance can't be a barrier if they want to compete in business today. For learning from a distance, distributed teams need a physical environment that successfully integrates technology.
When designing this workspace, it's important to plan thoughtfully (and carefully) so all tools and technologies are used as intended. These technologies should support different learning styles, as well as both analog and digital ways to co-create.
Most importantly, users should be able to easily connect their laptop or mobile device for a BYOD (bring your own device) experience and effective collaboration. With access to these technologies, teams can learn together and from one another, no matter where they are in the world.
- Choose a conferencing solution like CrestronFlex with touch-screen capabilities and the ability to collaborate on any platform for seamless collaboration
- Use similar tools and technology controls in all spaces, both on-site and at home, to help distributed teams collaborate and communicate effectively
- Install videoconferencing solutions and collaboration tools onto all employee desktops, laptops and mobile devices
- Consider camera and microphone placements carefully, so all users can be clearly audible and stay on-camera without disrupting the flow of information
- Provide co-creation tools, such as large-scale collaboration devices, that make ideas visible and allow everyone to contribute to and interact with content
How to Design for Continuous Learning and Development at Work
As we've already mentioned, learning can and should happen everywhere. From a training room to a private office, every single work setting can be a flexible, intelligent and versatile space to help employees develop physically, mentally, spiritually and intellectually.
By creating learning opportunities for people, you can also create teaching opportunities: people can share their expertise, skills, stories and background with their colleagues to amplify growth and innovation, now and for years to come.