September 12, 2019

Collaborative Spaces: Designing Your Office for Optimum Teamwork

Article by Micah Weeks

Office designs traditionally favoured cubicles and segregated workspaces. Rows upon rows of desks partitioned and separated, discouraging collaboration and some would say, creating a high-stress environment.

The changing workplace culture and needs prompted organisations to design collaborative spaces. Here, employees meet, share and, ideally, collaborate. These necessarily don’t have to be open spaces, but they are neutral territories where people from different departments can generate ideas without worrying about hierarchies.

The Benefits of Collaborative Spaces

If there is better collaboration between employees, work at all levels moves more smoothly and efficiency improves. Environments that help workers team up encourages new perspectives for solving business problems.

Collaborative workspaces also cultivates employee relationships. Humans are naturally social beings, and they need healthy relationships to succeed in the workplace. Having someone to share ideas with bolsters a sense of belonging with others.

Balancing the Me vs We

teammates in an office table

When it comes to encouraging collaboration, one of the challenges comes with balancing private and communal spaces in the workplace. If common space dominates the office, employees can ironically feel disinterested and less connected, wondering if they contributed anything valuable to the team.

According to Tom Price, whose firm created innovative spaces for Google’s Pittsburgh office, companies should create spaces that support a wide range of working styles. Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach, he suggested three types of workspaces that improve collaboration and innovation while balancing “me” and “we” time:

  • Collision: These communal spaces are where people can get food, relax and socialise when convenient to their schedule.
  • Huddle: Small huddle rooms that include facilities such as projector screens and whiteboards support small-group brainstorming sessions. They can also adapt to solo, private work.
  • Mixed-use: Mixed-use rooms with multipurpose furniture allow users to tackle their work creatively and modify the space to suit their immediate needs.

The International Facility Management Association suggests a 60:40 ratio between community areas and personal spaces to balance “me” and “we” time in the office.

Designing According to Business Needs

An office designed for collaboration isn’t effective if the teams working together aren’t accessible to each other. If workers have to walk up a floor to talk to someone from a different team, they’re less likely to collaborate.

Ensure that employees on the same team, and teams that often work together, are closely seated to each other. Tracy Grant of The Washington Post recommends that teammates should be within “chair-rolling” distance of each other.

Today’s organisations face the challenge of staying competitive with their products and services. This requires maximising the potential of their workspaces to encourage collaboration. When employees work together seamlessly, they are happier and generate ideas that bring value to the company.

Collaborative Office Designs by Zircon Interiors

Zircon Interiors believes that a well-designed office encourages your employees to work together for business success. We provide comprehensive interior design services in Melbourne, combining design and practicality to create workspaces that improve collaboration and efficiency. Whether you want a minimalist or a complex layout, we use innovative processes to determine which design is the best for your organisation.

To learn more about our services, call us on 1300 947 266 or fill in our contact form here:

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