In this day and age, it is hard to imagine the workplace without collaboration. It has become a vital part of our professional lives.
However, these times also pose a new challenge: how to design spaces that facilitate collaborative work?
In this content we take a closer look at this.
What are collaborative spaces?
Collaborative spaces are open-plan places where people come together to work on projects. They are usually equipped with desks and large tables, individual chairs and multi-seater armchairs, and technology that allows for the exchange of ideas, presentations and so on. In these spaces, the walls are often suitable for use as whiteboards.
They are used in companies of all kinds, from technology start-ups to large banks or fashion houses. The idea is that people can collaborate on a project without being locked in a small cubicle and without having to worry about noise or distractions.
Collaborative spaces started appearing in the 1980s, but only recently with the pandemic have they been adopted by mainstream businesses. They have evolved over time as technology has improved; open-plan offices are now more common than separate rooms or offices, and are often equipped with more than just a desk and chair.
Advantages of collaborative working in offices
The benefits of collaborative working in offices has been studied, debated and discussed for years. But it is safe to say that there are clear advantages to this type of collaboration:
- Increased productivity. When there are several people working on a project, more can often be achieved than if one person does everything.
- Creativity. This is because each person brings their own expertise, which means they bring different perspectives, ideas and experiences to the situation. This can lead to better results overall.
- Improved relationships between co-workers. Collaborative work requires communicating with others on a regular basis, and sometimes that means exposing yourself and being vulnerable enough to ask your colleagues for help when you need it (or even just asking them what they think about something). This can help build trust between co-workers, as well as allow them to get to know each other better so that they are not just co-workers, but real friends who like to spend time together outside of work.
Productivity in collaborative spaces and offices
As we all know, teamwork is more productive than individual work. You don’t need an office to be productive, just a laptop and the freedom to move around. But collaboration is proven to increase productivity when people are in the same building. And even more so when they are in the same room.
This may seem obvious: being in close proximity means you can talk face-to-face, which is often faster than email, chat apps like Slack or video chat apps like Zoom (or even phone calls).
But there’s something else that happens when people are in the same room together: they talk more. They share ideas more spontaneously, bounce ideas off each other and build on each other’s ideas. This kind of casual collaboration is important because it helps us think through problems and find better solutions than we would have found working alone.
Trends in new office design
In a world where the traditional office is slowly but inexorably disappearing, there are a number of trends that seem to be gaining momentum: freedom to work, collaboration and open spaces.
Bear in mind that while there are many advantages to this type of working environment (one of which is increased efficiency), there are also some disadvantages: open-plan offices create distractions, such as noise pollution, which can make it difficult to concentrate and can even affect your health.
Let’s take a look at the most important trends and features of collaborative offices:
Imagine a space that is not yours, but that you can use whenever you want. It has no strict rules or limitations, and there is no one who controls the space.
Everyone has the same access to this place, and anyone can change its appearance or adapt it to their needs: Got a meeting? No problem. You want to work on a project with another department? Just take an empty conference room for a couple of hours. No need for anyone to approve: you have what you need when you need it.
That’s what non-territorial spaces are like.
Multi-purpose furniture is designed to be used for multiple purposes.
They are a great way to save space and can make your workspace more collaborative and dynamic.
Some examples of furniture that encourage collaborative spaces:
- Conference room tables with built-in power sockets.
- Decorative shelving that converts into desks.
- Ergonomic office chairs, designed for sitting, standing and resting.
- Standing desks that allow us to work sitting or standing.
- Cubicles for private meetings or for resting.
See-through partitions are a great way to keep the team together.
They help keep spaces open while still offering a sense of privacy, which is important if you’re working on a revolutionary idea with your team, but also if you just need to concentrate on your Excel spreadsheets without being distracted by colleagues passing by your desk.
The idea of coworking spaces is based on the principle that technology enables people to work together more effectively.
Digital communication technology, such as Slack, Zoom and Yammer, helps to reduce communication barriers between teams so that they can collaborate better.
To be clear: these tools are not intended to replace face-to-face meetings, but are designed to enhance the capabilities of your existing team, allowing them access whenever and wherever they need it.
For example, if you have international or remote employees who don’t have easy access to their colleagues in offices around the world, digital communications can help bridge those gaps so that everyone is in the same meeting without delays due to time zones or other factors that prevent effective face-to-face conversations.
It is important that employees have a space where they can relax and unwind. The office should include a variety of spaces that allow your team members to rest their minds, recharge and concentrate on work elsewhere in the building.
Here are some useful tips for creating an ideal relaxation area:
- Make sure the space is quiet enough so that people can read or nap without feeling disturbed. It is also important that it is not too dark; if you want people to feel comfortable napping or relaxing, try adding ambient lighting so they don’t feel like they are in a cave. A comfortable sofa or chair is essential for those who prefer to sit while resting.
- Add decorative elements such as plants, artwork on the walls (not too distracting), etc., so that your employees feel inspired by the environment around them even as they relax.
- Create spaces where employees can socialise while resting, such as a cafeteria, canteen or break room.
The future of the office is collaborative. With so many options for businesses to explore, there’s no doubt that your business will be able to find something that perfectly suits its needs and style. Once you have it all that’s left is to sit back, relax and enjoy all the benefits of working in a more open and collaborative space.