Once upon a time, offices were rife with mundane cubicles and closed off work spaces, and more than a few unhappy, unmotivated worker bees.
Then came an enlightenment period, where employers began to realize that their people seemed more creative and productive when not ‘boxed in’, so to speak.
They soon discovered that a more collaborative atmosphere allowed for a fluidity and ease in the workplace that was vastly more conducive to innovation and sharing ideas, and voila… collaborative office spaces were born.
Collaborative Office Spaces
The concept of collaborative work spaces came into being in the late 1940s, originating with three psychologists. Although their work was just research that didn’t lead to any significant effects, decades later, it was Steve Jobs and Google that adopted the idea of a collaborative space layout when designing their offices.
The collaborative workspace design concept is based on research that shows most people develop friendships and meaningful interactions with people they collide with or interact with regularly.
By applying that same concept to the work environment, people from different departments and fields can bump into each other when in a collaborative work space environment.
Maybe it's an open office space, or in a combined kitchen space, or in a relaxation room. When they do, it’s a great opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other, especially for those feeling a little stuck for inspo.
In short, the idea of a collaborative office space is to promote the collision and unplanned interactions between people from different work areas, to increase overall creativity and productivity from social interaction. Partnering with Juniper Office Furniture Solutions, you can achieve the collaborative office space you want with our design experts and spatial planning technology.
Features of a Collaborative Office Space
One of the best and most efficient ways of boosting collaboration is to indulge in open physical spaces. These open spaces break out of the 1980s box cubicles and allow the people of today to work in an open and free environment.
An open space should be peppered with high-trafficked areas like staircases, hallways, mini-kitchens, and snack or coffee bars, to increase the likelihood of people bumping into each other. However, the space should also be large enough to accommodate a high number of people without feeling overcrowded.
Variety of Tables
Another key aspect of designing open spaces is decorating and equipping the room with multiple tables of various sizes and functionalities.
For example, a medium-sized rectangular or circular table can be ideal for small group meetings, whereas height adjustable collaboration tables might be the best choice for people who work on computers all day in small conference rooms.
Wellness spaces are designed to provide workers with a place to relax their mind and body. These wellness spaces include anything that helps to achieve that goal, such as plants to help rest the eyes, soft couches and cushions to sit and chill, massage chairs to ease tight muscles, along with things like recreational books, yoga mats, and natural or dim lighting to balance out the overabundance of bright office lights.
Different Types of Seating
A collaborative space requires ample seating to allow people to sit together and discuss their thoughts and ideas. For chairs, there should be a variety to choose from, preferably ones with adjustable height panels and wheels for easy and dynamic movement.
Depending on the size and ambiance of your open space, you can add couches and single sofas, as well as bean bags and cushions to provide some more relaxed seating options.
Every person requires different things for efficient working; some may work best at a desk, some prefer working with teams at modular training tables, while others may work best seated on a cushy couch.
In many successful collaborative offices, you’ll find a designated space for thinking. This is because some people require solitude to be able to focus and think things through.
You’ve probably had at least one project in life that required your full concentration to figure out a solution to. Thinking areas can provide a safe and quiet place to work privately and give you the solitude you need to find those solutions.
Huddle rooms are basically small meeting and work rooms. Sometimes, having a meeting or discussion session with your teammates cannot be done in a public space. That’s where huddle rooms come in. They allow everyone privacy to share their opinions and ideas with their teammates, even amidst the hustle and bustle of a large collaborative office.
Common areas throughout a more traditional office can serve as impromptu collaborative office spaces. Much like an open space plan, they should include sofas and couches to give people a chance to sit down and relax. People from different departments can discuss their opinions and help one another break through barriers and blocks.
Every collaborative office space should be fully equipped with plenty of technological resources in the area. Technological resources include audio and visual systems, a high-speed broadband internet connection, power outlets, and interactive screens or displays, and even an interactive whiteboard. Interactive whiteboards are ideal for collaborative offices, allowing people to work together both in person and remotely. Whiteboard setup ideas will allow you to place your whiteboard in the ideal spot within the office to promote the highest collaboration.
Benefits of a Collaborative Work Space
Community Equipment & Services
The logistical and operational aspects of a collaborative office space are often handled by a community team. This team is typically responsible for setting up the space with the right equipment, office furniture, and accessories needed to function successfully.
Since a collaborative work space often comes already equipped with the necessary equipment needed to work, it makes it super easy to dive right in and get to it in your modern conference room.
Additionally, if you’re renting a collaborative office space, the shared utilities and technical equipment can prove to be very cost-effective, depending on your situation. You only need to bring in what you need to work, and you pay only for much space as you’re using, instead of renting out a whole office.
Easy to Scale Up or Down
Again, when renting a collaborative work space, it may give you an opportunity to scale your business up or down, as needed. An open space plan makes it easy to accommodate new people as your business grows and it’s relatively easy to change your location when needed.
Working in a collaborative office space creates many networking opportunities. Since the whole point of a collaborative work space is to bump into other people, it can give you an excellent chance to make new contacts and network with like-minded individuals.
Arguably one of the biggest benefits of any collaborative office space, however, is the increase in overall work success. Working in a highly charged space, surrounded by motivated and creative people can work as a trigger for your own creativity and motivation. Collaborative work spaces are well-known to result in increased and optimized work efficiency and productivity.
Organizing a Conference Room to Encourage Collaboration
Need some conference room setup ideas? For a collaborative conference room, you should consider the following factors:
Table Design & Placement
A conference table and chairs set is always the center of attention in a modern conference room. To create a collaborative atmosphere, the table should be placed so that it allows easy access and communication with the audience, as well as with the presenter.
When selecting a conference table, the ideal table design would probably be either a rectangular or oval table. Just be sure to place the table so that there’s enough space for everyone to move around the room comfortably.
Equipping a conference room with the right tech gadgets and tools can make everything easier for all. This includes a proper internet connection, as well as audio and video systems, and temperature control devices.
Centrally Controlled Audio / Visual Systems
Creating a central control panel for all the systems in the conference room can go far in terms of facilitating collaboration. After all, if a space is equally accessible and manageable by all, people will feel more comfortable using it.
And in the spirit of collaboration, why not invite an IT specialist to help set up the control center for the conference room? That way you know everything is connected and working properly.
Design / Aesthetics of a Room
The layout of your conference room, as well as the wall and office furniture color can either make that space look inviting and open, or closed off and dull. Keep in mind that light colors are ideal for creating bright open spaces and adding a few colorful elements for a pop of color helps spark creativity.
Regardless of how you choose to do it, there’s no question that collaborative office spaces are the wave of the future. Time to hop on and ride it out!