96% of the highly engaged and satisfied employees feel there’s a strong culture of teamwork and collaboration in the companies they work for. And that’s what an office collaboration space helps you achieve: to bring your employees together and get them to cooperate.
Which — stats show it — is a strong enough reason for them to feel highly engaged and satisfied with their jobs and your company as a whole.
“Ok, Ok, but how do I create one that naturally brings people together?” you might ask yourself.
In other words: what makes a great collaboration office space?
What are the main pillars to consider for putting together a workspace that’s truly collaborative? And not just a pile of workspaces grouped together.
Let’s get you some answers.
Office Collaboration Space: The Place for Teamwork and Inspiration
A collaborative workspace is where teams or members of a team come together to run through ideas collectively.
And to get inspired.
For that’s what this positive, free-flowing of ideas or knowledge between employees, does: it feeds their inspiration. It sparks ideas.
And it supports great face-to-face communication. Employees get together physically in a collaborative office, where real-world visual cues — tone, body language, nuance — are much easier to read than in the online world.
This breaks down communication barriers. And since great communication leads to greater teamwork… you can draw the conclusion.
What Makes an Office Collaborative?
For you don’t just clump together several workspaces and that space becomes “collaborative” all of a sudden.
That would only mean bringing individual desks together, nothing more.
For an office to be truly collaborative — to bring workers together naturally — it needs a strong foundation. One made of a few key principles.
In short, the collaborative office should:
- Be designed with teamwork in mind: it should get people involved. And make them feel supported, inspired, and enabled while involved in collaborative work.
- Be equipped with all the needed technological resources: from collaborative platforms like Zoom or Slack, to cloud software, such tools enable employees to engage and work together.
- Be comfortable and accommodating: because people have their best ideas when they feel most comfortable. So think ergonomic chairs, cozy couches, great lighting, and acoustics when designing your collaboration work spaces. They’ll make people feel at ease and more focused.
- Be large enough: give people enough space to spread out while still working in the proximity of their colleagues. A crammed place is the best synonym for “forced collaboration”.
- Cater to all tastes, needs, and personalities: from seating arrangements to the choice of furniture, all the resources in such a collaborative workspace should accommodate the immediate work needs of most (if not all) of the employees sharing that space. Variety is key here.
Types of Office Collaboration Spaces
Talking about meeting a variety of needs and preferences when designing your collaboration workspace, here are 4 types of office collaboration spaces to consider for putting together the perfect “combo”:
Meeting and Conference Rooms
They’re still central spaces in most offices.
Why? Because they allow large numbers of people to meet in a private space. And they’re usually equipped with all the right technology needed for productive work sessions.
Add comfort to the equation and you get a meeting space where teams can do their best focused work together.
As the name says, they are mixed-personality/mixed-scale collaborative spaces in offices with furniture of different styles that encourage employees to approach their work from a more creative angle.
With different clusters at hand to choose from — living room-like furniture, workshop-style spaces — and put together, employees are free to adapt their collaborative space according to their changing work needs.
They’re small spaces with flexible seating options, screens, and whiteboards, great for individual work or small group brainstorming sessions.
For quiet, focused work that sometimes can’t be done in larger spaces, accommodating large groups of employees.
They’re collaboration areas in your office where people can socialize over a cup of coffee or a quick snack.
Take them as places where your employees can relax while connecting with their colleagues whenever they feel like it.
Tip! To spark creativity during these short socialization sessions, you’ll want to create a distinct experience. So, consider a different design from the rest of the workplace for these collision spaces.
What Are the Benefits of Office Collaboration Spaces?
The most obvious ones are better communication, increased efficiency, and productivity.
But the benefits of having teams engaged in collaborative work, in collaborative workplaces, are not just purely work benefits.
When interaction becomes ingrained in the work itself, the company culture benefits, too. With teammates interacting on a regular basis, at work, getting closer, a tight-knit company culture is taking shape.
Now, let’s put the spotlight on some of the key benefits of having collaborative spaces in offices.
Stronger Company Culture
Not at all surprising, if you come to think of it. The office environment reflects your company’s culture.
If the environment in your workplace is one where collaboration and regular interaction between your employees are the norm, these are also the traits engraved in your company culture.
And a collaborative company culture will always be a stronger one compared to one praising purely individual success and individual efforts and endeavors.
It takes a team to put together multiple great ideas into THAT great final idea. And to actually execute it.
This is precisely what a great office collaboration space helps you achieve:
Get teams to work together so that each member’s individual efforts contribute to the company’s success.
Better Space Utilization
A well-thought-through, well-designed collaboration office helps you make the most of your workspace.
Say you’re a rising start-up with a low number of employees: a collaborative space, which accommodates your whole team, would be much more effective for you than renting a full-floor office, don’t you agree?
Obviously, better space utilization leads to cost savings, as you’ll only pay for what you need.
And you’d maybe even share utility costs with other companies using the same collaborative workspace.
Do your hybrid or remote workers need a private office to do collaborative work in? Provide them with a workplace that accommodates them all, where they can get together and work together when they need to.
And only pay for the services you do need.
A benefit resulting from the very sharing of the office collaboration space with other companies. Or from simply renting an office instead of the entire floor.
The use of resources from electricity to water to gas is automatically lower and therefore more… sustainable.
With team members working on projects in the same office collaboration space, in person, not only that ideas get shared more easily, but you take siloing key tasks out of the picture.
And all those “blockers” that might put a project on hold, where employees waste time trying to track down their missing colleagues.
Moreover, in a collaborative space with open floor plans and (in most cases) glass partitions, people still can engage in deep work and get to work side-by-side with very little distraction.
A collaboration office space breaks the rigid frame of the traditional office, resulting in more flexibility.
Team members get to choose their way of working and configure their own workspace within the larger, commonly shared office space. And this level of flexibility translates into a more creative approach to work.
And boosted productivity.
Does Collaborative Office Space Work for Everyone?
Now that we’ve gone over the benefits, you might be already sold: a collaborative office space should be your team’s place of work.
And yet, before you jump on the trend, there are some key aspects you'll want to think through first:
Your team/s ways of working: is your company one of those which, after COVID-19, have started to use their office spaces for work AND for employee interaction? Then a collaborative workspace suits you 100%.
Your company culture: if teamwork and cooperation are not important components of your company culture, if you’re not the creative type of business, but rather a more professional, corporate-like one, forcing a collaborative approach in the workplace might not be the best option for you.
Your budget: when you need to keep a close eye on your expenses, the flexibility of a collaborative workplace becomes particularly tempting. Having multiple collaborative spaces in your office allows you to scale up or down depending on your immediate work needs: create more such spaces in your office or cut them down to a convenient minimum if most of your employees work from home.
So, What Makes a Great Office Collaboration Space?
And we’re back to your valid question from the beginning of this post:
“Ok, Ok, but how do I create one that naturally brings people together?”
For that’s what a great office collaboration space is: a place that drives employees to seek interaction and collaborative work… naturally.
Here’s what your list of essentials should include when you consider putting together such a collaborative space:
Multiple Types of Working Areas
You’ll want your office to incorporate several types of collaborative working areas.
From areas that support working collaboratively within a large team, like conference rooms, to huddles, great for brainstorming and private catch-ups of smaller groups,
In short, make sure your office meets as many employee needs and working styles as possible.
Amenities for Productivity
It goes without saying that a great office collaboration space has all the needed amenities to ensure focused work and your employees’ boosted productivity.
From ergonomic chairs to good-quality office desks, soundproof rooms for video calls, and whiteboards, make sure you design a collaborative work environment equipped for productivity.
And yes, a great view should be on your list, too.
Employee Wellbeing-Centered Design
Integrate well being concepts into the design of your collaborative office for happier, more engaged employees.
How? Here are some simple, yet effective steps you can start implementing today:
Give people control over their workspace: give them easy access to the policy tools, technology, furnishings, and workplace design that grant them choice over the workspace (e.g. flexible task lighting and adjustable height office desks, individual and group workspaces). And over the work process itself.
Bring nature into the workspace: from plants to outside views accessible from most workspaces, to designs made of natural materials, make sure your collaborative workspace meets that biological need your employees have to connect with nature both physically and mentally. It’ll improve their wellbeing and reflect on their productivity.
Integrate natural light: so simple and yet such an effective step you can take, with a powerful impact on your employees’ minds and bodies. Make sure workstations in the office collaboration space get enough natural light.
Keep noise distractions to a minimum: offer both informal socialization spaces and quiet, phone-free areas.
Make physical health a top priority when designing your collaborative working space: give employees the choice to stand or sit when working, to move from one position to another. And integrate ergonomic principles in all the elements of design.
The key objective of this office space is to provide a collaborative, productive, truly non-constraints office-like environment to the employees using it.
It’s the perfect context for the thinking process to flourish and grow into innovation, and become…. infectious.
A great office collaboration space has nature incorporated into it. It makes the most of its health and wellbeing benefits for the people working and interacting in that space.
And don’t think of something overly complex or costly.
Things like abundant natural lightning, pieces of furniture in soothing shades of green, natural wood flooring, and indoor plants are all obvious and easy-to-underestimate components of a biophilic design that you can easily include in your collaborative work space(s).
Modern Workplace Technology
Workplace management technology, like visitor management and office space bookings all in one, easy-to-access, easy-to-use platform, make the difference between an office collaboration space and a… great one.
They smooth down the “wrinkles” of sharing the same workspaces with other employees, other teams.
Make sure to integrate modern workplace technology into your office collaboration space to boost your employees’ productivity, support flexibility, streamline their communication and enhance their collaboration.
Now, is the mental picture of that great office collaboration space for your own team/teams less blurry now?
Great! Then time to put it together following these steps and making sure it incorporates the “must-have” elements listed here.