Hive and the workspace or what is the lesson learnt from bees’ productivity?

20. June 2019 / Our Stories

When it comes to working, no one beats the bees. They have highly organised societies with exact roles for every single bee. Bees’ duties even change over time. There is, for sure, plenty to learn from them.

Humans as bees live together in societies which are broken down into smaller units and communities. At work, like bees in a hive, we exist in a business community which is then divided into teams. The teams are responsible for a specific part of the activity, and together create one great organised system. Some of them are temporarily created to tackle a specific project or problem.

A hub for different workstyles

Project team members come from various departments defined by different scopes of work styles, patterns and approaches. Now, they are put together in one squad because of one objective and need to create value within a prescribed time. How can a company support such cross-functional teams so they can use their potential to the fullest?

HB Reavis is no different, and there is always a cross-functional team in our company. In the past, team members met occasionally, had no allocated space and always had to carry all their materials with them, which was rather unpractical.


Main challenges to be tackled

Hence, we wanted to create their very own meeting habitat where they could not only meet up, but also store materials, review taken and planned steps and discuss ideas. Breaking it down, we have identified three main challenges:

  1. People from various departments have different work styles and thus workspace requirements change from person to person.
  2. Projects change over time (e.g. from brainstorming to problem solving) and project teams need to adjust their work modes accordingly.
  3. Working cross-functionally can be a cultural challenge: teams must find a common language and establish routines that are accepted by everyone.

Co-creation at the heart

To find the answer to all of these wasn’t an easy task at all. It was accompanied by understanding the processes and routines of the teams that members came from. It involved endless discussions, prototyping, testing, getting feedback, testing again and so on. At the same time, co-creation was an essential part of the whole project since we wanted people to be able to adopt their new home base as effortlessly as possible – rather than create something from our minds which they would not like in the end.

Once we had the final work setting accepted by the team, we turned to the actual design. This proved to be harder than expected since no established furniture supplier was able to provide a solution that fit the needs of our project teams.

Project Islands were born

Taking on the market, our internal team decided to bring a new workspace concept that best caters to the needs of agile project teams. This decision marked the birth of Project Islands, which have become the home base for our temporary project teams throughout the company.

And what was the result? Project Islands are the workspaces for cross-functional teams. They are composed of three major elements which can be adjusted, added or removed at any time: a honeycomb cell shaped table, movable walls and storage units.

Look! It’s hexagon

Tables were inspired by honeycomb’s prismatic wax cells as they are a suitable shape to host teams varying in size. The hexagonal structure connects as few as 3 people, but at the same time, it allows 6 – 9 people to comfortably join meetings at one table.

The hexagonal shape encourages space modification and another table can easily be added to any of its sides if the team is growing.

Around the tables the movable storage units can be used to store the necessary materials. Movable walls not only differentiate the Project Islands from the rest of the workspace, but present which steps to take and map the advance of the team.

Going through all the steps, processes and analyses and creating a new strategic partnership, we would like to share our knowledge and help any company to find the right solution for their specialised teams.


About the author

Karin Janacova

Group PR Executive & Copywriter