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How to create a collaborative workspace

Benefits of collaborative workspaces and how to create one in your office ‘Collaborative workspace’ has become the latest buzzword

By Rachel O'Hara

Benefits of collaborative workspaces and how to create one in your office

‘Collaborative workspace’ has become the latest buzzword phrase in the world of office design. And rightly so – with the benefits of collaborative working being plentiful for business owners and staff alike. As with everything, the way we work is changing. As businesses adapt to new hybrid models, they are beginning to move away from the corporate boardrooms and regimented rows of desks that have long been associated with traditional offices, instead leaning towards collaborative office space. Hot-desking, informal meeting pods, and breakout areas are cropping up to take their place as office spaces aim to replicate the flexibility of the workforce that inhabits them. 

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is that teamwork is still very much at the heart of any successful business. People aren’t just relying on their workplace for a much-needed dose of social interaction, but their work is also thriving from it. A collaborative workspace gives employees the tools they need to nurture relationships and flourish together – improving employee motivation and productivity as well as morale. The advantages of collaborative working are becoming increasingly apparent, so to find out more and to learn how to turn your office into a hub for collaboration, keep reading. 

What is a collaborative workspace?

Office collaboration space, as the name suggests, refers to office space which has been specifically designed to encourage teams to work together towards a shared goal. Unfortunately, simply pushing desks closer together rarely inspires collaborative working, it just ends up making everyone a lot more squashed. Instead, collaborative offices utilise space to create flexibility and choice for their employees, shaped around the ways that they work. Offering collaborative office spaces, such as designated areas to brainstorm, informal meeting pods and hotdesking areas are much more likely to encourage collaboration, inspiring innovation and creativity within your team. 

What are the benefits of collaborative working?

Before making the decision to shift to a collaborative office space, it’s important to weigh up the benefits of collaborative working to your business. Sure, redesigning your office space will come with some initial costs, but hopefully these advantages of collaborative working can help shed some light on how office collaboration space can pay for itself in the long run. Keep reading for a run through of the key benefits of collaborative working, including better use of space and greater flexibility, improved communication between employees and increased productivity and motivation, as well as how facilitating this style of working can go on to boost your business’ bottom line.

Better use of space and greater flexibility

Collaborative office space utilises every last inch of an office effectively, designing a space that caters to the different ways that your staff work. The more flexible a space is, the more situations it can facilitate without the need for excess space – by getting more from less space, you save money on space you don’t really need.

Different spaces create different atmospheres – for example brainstorming would likely be more productive in a more informal, intimate space where people would feel comfortable enough to share ideas, rather than in a formal boardroom. A choice of areas gives employees a change of scenery when working, reducing the procrastination that can arise from working at the same desk 9-5.

Improved communication between employees

As we discussed earlier, teamwork is essential to the success of a business, and a big part of this relies on individuals in the group feeling comfortable and confident enough to contribute their thoughts and ideas. Collaborative office spaces help nurture relationships between staff, by giving them more opportunities to get to know each other. The more comfortable a team is with one another, the more confidence they will have to voice innovative ideas, and to communicate directly with each other. Putting faces to email addresses and learning more about each other’s roles within the office can help a team work together more effectively.

Increased productivity and motivation

Another benefit of collaborative working is that it allows employees to work in real-time, without the delays of waiting for email replies or suffering technological issues – allowing staff in fast-paced industries to work even faster. Working collaboratively also allows teams to combine skillsets and share experiences, pooling their talent to solve problems quicker. As they say, two heads are better than one – so imagine how good a whole team of them could be. 

In addition, collaborative office space improves staff motivation, as staff that have more opportunities to contribute to their team are more likely to feel heard and valued within it. Increasing productivity as well as the well-being of the workforce – the happier workers are, the harder they work.

How to create a collaborative workspace

So now you know all the benefits of collaborative working, you’re probably wondering how you go about creating a collaborative workspace of your own. There are a few things to take into consideration before planning your new space, such as the needs of your employees, your budget and the space that you have available to you. Once you have assessed these, then you can move onto the fun bit – designing your collaborative office space. 

Assess employee needs

As one of the most important parts of your business, it is crucial to consider the needs and wants of your employees when making the shift to a collaborative office space. Each business is different and each team works in different ways – so each office should be reflective of this. You could have the most impressive, modern office but if it’s not tailored to the way your staff work, it won’t get used. 

A simple way to understand the needs of your employees is through surveys, where you can ask key questions that can really help maximise the value of your redesign. Your staff likely spend a lot of time at the office, so it’s important that they feel they can have a say in the way it is designed.

Assess budget and space available

You can create collaborative office space with any budget and amount of space, though it is well worth budgeting some money towards the design. As our list of benefits of collaborative working shows, the increased productivity means the redesign is likely to pay for itself in the long run.

Designing an office with collaborative space in mind can even save you money when looking for an office, as you can get more out of a smaller space when strategically designing it with such flexibility at its core.

Based on the needs and space available, decide on space configuration

Now that you have considered the needs of your employees, your budget and the space that you have available to work with, you can start to design your new office space. There are many different features that can be created to enhance collaboration within your office, so it’s all about picking the right ones for your business.

Collaborative features include adjustable desks, spaces for brainstorming and creative collaboration, informal meeting spaces, hot-desking and breakout areas.

Desk types to allow posture changing            

Height adjustable desks allow a range of people to work at the same desk comfortably, which is especially important for spaces that are shared by many different employees such as in collaborative office spaces. As we all know, when sitting at a desk all day, it is crucial the desk facilitates good posture. If not, workers can feel tired quicker and lack the concentration they need to work efficiently. As with many things in life, one size does not necessarily fit all, so prioritise the comfort of your employees with height adjustable desks.  

Spaces to allow group brainstorming and creative collaboration

Teamwork is essential to a business’s success, so make sure your team has a space catered towards collaboration. Meeting rooms can often feel too informal and large offices may be too quiet to generate real discussions due to the fear of disturbing others. Instead, introducing informal and relaxed meeting spaces can help to create the comfortable atmosphere that is needed for people to share their ideas effectively. Spaces that inspire constructive collaboration lead to greater innovation, problem solving and productivity within a business.           

Informal meeting spaces

Not every conversation in an office requires the formality of a boardroom, in fact serious settings like these often repress creativity and collaboration. Instead make employees feel more comfortable and clients feel more valued with an array of informal meeting spaces for them to gather within. Meeting space is often a rarity in offices, so having multiple little pods allows more people to benefit from them at any one time, allowing your employees to work as efficiently as possible without having to disturb the rest of the office.  

Hot desking     

Hot-desking, also known as desk-sharing, is another great way to utilise space within a collaborative office. Rather than having fixed desks for each employee in a business, hot-desking allows desk space to be used by different people at different times. Hot-desking has grown in popularity with the rise of hybrid models of working, as people are not coming into the office as routinely as they once were. Not only does this flexibility help to maximise office space, it encourages collaboration – as teams are free to move next to one another and work together in real time. 

Breakout areas

A breakout area is an informal space for employees or visitors, separate from their usual working environment- because it’s not all work, work, work. Giving staff informal, communal areas to catch up in their breaks can help nurture relationships within the office, which can in turn lead to greater teamwork and collaboration. Separate areas also allow the staff who want to continue working to do so undisturbed by the lunchtime chatter. Downtime away from the desk can leave employees freshly motivated when they return, increasing their productivity as well as their well-being –  a win-win.

Summary      

So that was our whistle-stop tour of collaborative office spaces, the benefits of collaborative working and how to create an office collaboration space for your own business. We hope that you are feeling inspired and if you would like more information on how we can help relocate or redesign your new office space, get in touch today.