Companies are always growing and changing, as each month brings new challenges, opportunities, and goals. With those changes comes a shift, too, in employee and space needs: more desks for new hires, additional conference and call rooms, or updated, faster tech systems.
Managing and anticipating these needs can be difficult. You can pick up a certain amount of info from what you hear around the office and experience yourself, but the richest information comes from the people who feel the changes the most—your coworkers.
People like to have a voice in office design, but it can be difficult to hear from every single person in the company. So when you're open to feedback on office updates, how do you find it? And how do you communicate those changes you’re implementing?
Here are creative, interactive ways to communicate what you’re working on, collect feedback from your coworkers, and utilize the precious info that you gather.
Think outside of the survey
A classic way to gather feedback from employees is through an online survey. At first glance, an online survey seems to be a great option: it’s easy to create, you control the messaging and level of detail, and it’s sent to everyone in the company.
The problem, though, is that your coworkers have no incentive to fill it out. They have their own time commitments and priorities. And, chances are, they’ve been asked to fill out other company-wide surveys and may feel fatigued by yet another.
Instead of starting with a survey, formulate a purpose statement for your project. Think about the context your coworkers need and try to keep it simple:
We’re making changes to Room 5, so that it’s more accommodating for larger conference calls.
Notice that this statement leaves out details like: adding sound proof panels, painting the walls, and buying an area rug. By simplifying the message, you get rid of setting expectations and thus allow yourself room to experiment. Yet, the statement includes the important contextual info: what you’re doing and why.
Share this purpose statement with your company through Slack, a brief message at your company-wide meeting, on TV screens in your shared spaces, and/or (and this is particularly important if you have multiple projects) through an email.
Create interactive spaces
Next comes the implementation phase of your project. Instead of waiting until every detail is finished, start to collect feedback after you’ve made several updates to a space. An easy and low-cost way to do this is to… just ask!
Set up a flip chart, grab a whiteboard, or throw some Post-its with sharpie markers in the room or area you’re working on. Write one clear, simple question for your coworkers to answer. Here are some ideas:
Give us your thoughts!
- How can we make this room better?
- What do you like about this room?
- What’s one thing you wish you could change about this space?
Using this simple, interactive tactic, people are more likely to answer your question and provide accurate answers. They don’t have to imagine themselves in the space and they may be more candid since the replies are anonymous.
Pro tip: Fill out a few Post-it notes yourself to get the ball rolling.
A more in-depth approach is to lead an employee focus group. Gather a group of 5-7 people from various departments (since different roles require different needs!) for a one hour session. Ask your coworkers to write down what works, what doesn’t, and what they would change about the room or space.
Pro tip: Don’t try to come up with solutions in the meeting. Instead, listen to each person’s needs, hopes, and gripes so you can make an informed decision later.
Make the info work for you
Keep the interactive question up for about two weeks or until there’s no space left to comment. Collect all the answers and start to consolidate. Group similar comments together and start to identify themes: lighting, sound, furniture, etc.
Take a step back and ask: if you had to choose the top three most important things to concentrate on, what would they be? Decide what to tackle first and which improvements can wait.
The final piece of communicating your updates is to share your observations with everyone. Write 1-2 sentences briefly outlining the actions you are going to take and, if applicable, a timeline. Share this message along with a longer document that includes your purpose statement, the answers to the question you posed, how you grouped the comments, and next steps. Even though people may not read the entire document, this act of transparency sends a strong signal that you’re open to suggestions.
After your project is complete, follow up with a simple Slackbot so your coworkers can rate the new room/space. Or, go through the process again and supply another round of Post-it notes. Gather the feedback and iterate!
For other tips and ideas on effective messaging in your office, download our free guide to Internal Communications for Workplace Teams.