In recent times the work places have changed and evolved dramatically. The dominant professions today did not even exist a couple of decades ago. Our office infrastructure has changed dramatically, gone are the days of reams of papers and printing, the advent of IT has made most of our work paperless and instant. Keeping up with the times the workspaces have evolved too. Offices today are designed to be more of a collaborative environment that allows free interaction and openness among colleagues. The boring whites, blues and greys have been replaced by vibrant colors, fixed cubicles and workstations have evolved into collaborative worktables and interaction hubs. One of the biggest challenges faced by most sectors is a high level of attrition, to curb this trend many organisations are going out of their way to create spaces that employees love to work in. Gyms, hobby classes, food courts, etc are a norm in most medium and large organizations. The youth brigade that is joining the corporate world is no longer happy with just the pay package and the job profile, the work environment is a key driver to joining an organisation and lasting in the workspace. While the world around us seems to take the work environment very seriously it is strange that most schools have been oblivious to this need for change. The staff rooms are normally the most boring spaces in schools and the principal’s cabin can more often pass off as an interrogation chamber. Teachers these days work under very high stress levels due to the expectations from parents and managements. They need time and space to unwind and relax. Collaborative learning is a fancy word used by most schools, if teachers are not used to working in a collaborative work environment they will not able to facilitate a collaborative learning environment in their class rooms. There are a few basics that go into making a work space collaborative:
- Free Space: Environments that allow spaces for movement give a sense of freedom and encourage creativity. Staff rooms should have minimal furniture and lots of spaces to meet, to work together, to discuss, to plan.
- Ventilation: Work spaces should ideally have a lot of fresh air, in our cramped and noisy cities this is almost a luxury these days. Air conditioning is the next best option.
- Ample Lighting: Workspaces need to be well lit, here again sunlight would be the ideal option and if that seems a luxury a lot of new LED lighting does give warm white lighting that creates a very nice ambience
- Colors: They can make all the difference to space. The right colors can make spaces look happy, cheerful, energetic and comfortable. The usage of basics like white and grey blended with very bright new age colors make spaces look inviting and encouraging.
- Furniture: Individual desks and workstations are not the best for teachers. The concept of work/meeting tables and discussion pockets encourage them to collaborate. Moveable chairs, varying heights, multipurpose furniture, etc. add to the environment.
- Quite spaces: In the new collaborative work environments spaces along with creating collaboration it is always a good idea to have some space for ‘Quite’.
According to ancient Indian traditions, spaces have a tremendous impact on the behaviour and energies of people. The basics have not changed despite all the evolution we have had as a society. People still long for spaces that make them feel comfortable, at home, reflects their personality and gives them a sense of pride. Happy teachers make happy children & Happy spaces make happy teachers!