[Research] Office space and productivity

About the quest to create work spaces that encourage greater collaboration and productivity : Workspaces That Promote Collaboration by Mark M. Sheehan.

Research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Thomas Allen shows that the generation of productive ideas, particularly in research and development settings, relates, in part, to the number of informal contacts between workers who do not normally work together. In keeping with Allen's research findings, many office planners now look for ways to increase the number of chance encounters between workers. (...) The push to encourage greater collaboration between workers takes two general directions: "low-tech" methods that change physical work spaces and "high-tech" methods that use software or electronic devices.

Examples of low-tech solutions: - Food as an Activity Generator: placing 'food-related generators' within central meeting spots or along normal traffic patterns to offer opportunities for serendipitous face-to-face encounters. - Visible Travel Patterns: companies can structure traffic patterns to allow people to see each other as they move from place to place within a building to "increase the opportunity for establishing visual contact and easy accidental communication with other people and other work areas." - Ideas on the Walls: low-cost, low-tech collaboration is use of bulletin boards to tack up ideas that various groups are working on (work in progress).