A modern office design can make or break productivity. But as the 2020 pandemic swept across the globe, many were forced to work from home and create their own home office spaces.
Now that most employees are back in their companies' offices, the “work-from-home” trend poses a problem: collaboration. Yes, remote work has encouraged employers to come up with digital means to foster ways of collaboration. But you have to admit, that isn’t enough, especially when you’re comparing a virtual workspace to a physical one.
Because of that worldwide work-from-home trend, it tends to be difficult to promote fruitful workspace collaboration and in turn, employee morale. A lot of people are now used to remote work, and returning to the office can be an unwelcome change.
Fortunately, there’s a solution to this kind of problem: a collaborative workspace. From growing startups to international businesses, companies with collaborative workspaces come in all sizes. These workspaces often consist of a combination of common areas and private offices, and they allow for more flexibility, brainstorming, and engagement.
If you’re looking for ways to turn your modern office design into a collaborative workspace, then read on and find out how you can create an ideal office with collaborative workspace elements.
- I. Benefits of a Collaborative Workspace
- II. 10 Elements of Collaborative Workspaces
- 1. Open Workspace Layout
- 2. Clean, Bright Lighting
- 3. Office Branding
- 4. Visual and Collaborative Tools
- 5. Acoustics
- 6. Modern Office Furniture
- 7. Versatility
- 8. Space for Brainstorming
- 9. Space for Socializing and Storage
- 10. Cozy Elements
- III. Things to Consider
Benefits of a Collaborative Workspace
Creating a collaborative workspace doesn’t only mean taking down your office walls.
Because workspaces, cultures, core values, and work processes all vary from one company to another, creating this kind of space takes a lot of time and thoughtful consideration. It can get frustrating, to say the least.
But if you’ve decided to redesign your office into a collaborative space, it’s ultimately rewarding for your company, as well as for your employees. Here are some of the benefits of this kind of modern office design:
Collaborative workspaces focus on making things easily accessible. At the same time, they provide employees with private workspaces in which they can focus on their tasks. And with that kind of workspace, employees are more inclined to collaborate frequently, address their tasks better, and thus improve their individual and collective productivity.
Better Team Engagement
Teamwork makes the dream work! Unlike conventional meeting rooms and stuffy cubicles, collaborative workspaces have one similar feature: openness—literally and figuratively.
Collaborative workspaces typically serve as a hub not only for work but also for socializing. Rather than being forced to work the rest of the day in a quiet corner, employees in these workspaces feel more comfortable addressing their concerns with other team members, brainstorming ideas, and setting a more coherent company culture.
Building team engagement is crucial to boosting productivity, and with collaborative workspaces, that gets a lot easier.
More Room for Growth, Strengthened Employee Ties
Collaborative workspaces offer a lot of room for learning and for building your company culture. And is there any employee who doesn’t want that?
These workspaces are normally designed for productivity, but they still pose a huge opportunity for creating a company culture that you can call your own. With a strong culture, employees can have a better perception of your company and feel more comfortable staying for longer.
Plus, in flexible collaborative workspaces, you can easily accommodate more teams as your company grows.
10 Elements of Collaborative Workspaces
Without further ado, here’s our list of 10 collaborative workspace elements in modern office design. Be sure to incorporate these elements into your office space to boost productivity and strengthen your company culture.
1. Open Workspace Layout
Have you ever seen modern startups with pool tables, common cafes, and mobile furniture? They seem like fun playgrounds for professionals, and they look like the dream workplace.
And while their designs differ from one another, they share one common thing: an open office layout.
This modern office design promotes collaboration and creativity. Instead of the alienating cubicles and dull office vibe, it has a physical (and a sort of psychological) openness to it.
Its open ceilings give the space an added volume, and its glass fronts allow more natural light to illuminate the office. There’s room for flexibility, and it steers clear of a congested layout.
An open office layout prevents employees from bumping into each other and from feeling a bit claustrophobic and institutionalized. So keep adequate space between your pieces of modern office furniture, minimize (or eliminate) your use of partitions or cubicles, and consider painting the walls white. That way, you’ll not only open up the workspace but also make room for growth and collaboration.
2. Clean, Bright Lighting
Another way to give your collaborative workspace the illusion of openness is to use clean, bright lighting. Say goodbye to boring commercial light fixtures and grid fluorescent lighting. Consider replacing them with bright, energy-efficient LED lighting or contemporary light fixtures.
But if your company uses grid ceiling systems for better acoustics and lighting control, you can still add some aesthetics to your existing office lighting. Some additional light fixtures you can mount on the ceiling or even on the wall are pendant lamps, indirect lighting, wall sconces, modern chandeliers, and track lighting.
What’s more, when you install adequate lighting, your employees can avoid eye strains, headaches, and other health problems linked to insufficient illumination. That means you can cut down on absenteeism caused by non-ergonomic lighting.
To save on energy costs, you might also want to provide your workspace with tons of natural light. So open up your windows, pull curtains aside, and let some vitamin D brighten up the workspace.
3. Office Branding
What better way to establish a company culture than weaving branding into your modern office design?
Office branding is a creative solution to turning your workspace into one that reflects your brand and company values. Not only does it strengthen employee ties—but it also gives potential partners and clients a great first impression of your company.
Start with putting up your logos and using paint that represents your brand colors. Maybe add some personal touches and decor that reminds one of what your company stands for. No matter how you rebrand your office, it’s best to design it around the idea of what sets your brand apart.
4. Visual and Collaborative Tools
Gone are the days of sending out letters and using telephones and fax machines. It’s high time to bring out the old and bring in the new—because a modern office design won’t be complete without visual and collaborative technologies.
Need to loop in your team of remote employees on the latest announcements? Not a problem. Just have a laptop, widescreen monitors, WiFi, power strips, and other audiovisual elements, roll them in the conference room using a mobile AV cart, and let them join in the meeting.
A productive workspace should be data-driven. It allows for more effective communication and collaboration.
And speaking of data, providing real-time updates and data through digital means is more efficient than through analog documentation. With a collaborative workspace filled with visual tools and technologies, workers can have an easier time presenting, bouncing off ideas, and brainstorming ad hoc.
If there’s one problem with open-plan collaborative workspaces, it’s that they can generate a bit of noise. Workspaces strictly sticking to open layouts can be distracting and might do more harm than good to innovation and productivity. That’s why you should bear in mind that such a work environment needs a balance of open and enclosed spaces.
Try putting a few modern study carrels against the wall for workers who prefer some peace and quiet. Or consult with an interior designer for zoning or assigning functions to each area. You can also put up sound dampening tools and technologies to lower the amount of noise and distraction.
When designing your collaborative workspace, it all boils down to your employees’ needs. If you think that a certain workspace element isn’t beneficial to your company, then you can opt to avoid it at all costs.
6. Modern Office Furniture
Did you know that repetitive strain injuries or work-related injuries are among the leading causes of absenteeism? Repetitive strain injuries refer to bodily aches and pains caused by typing, maintaining the same posture all day, and other repetitive motions.
So when you’re buying modern office furniture, you have to check whether it’s ergonomic or not. Ergonomic furniture supports the natural posture of your body, avoids restricting its flow, eliminates stress on the muscles and joints, and allows for more physical movement. Simply put, it prioritizes comfort over aesthetics.
Another thing you should consider when getting modern office furniture is if it’s conducive to collaboration and productivity. For better brainstorming, you might want to invest in laptop tables, conference tables, comfortable stools, and more.
A flexible workspace creates a dynamic work environment and provides teams with versatility. It’s all about accommodating how employees prefer to work and how to improve their comfort and productivity.
For instance, assigned seating isn’t that common in open floor plans. Workers either get a “first come, first served” seat or a chair in rotating seating arrangements. This allows everyone to get a chance to collaborate with others and maybe to sit by the beloved table near the window.
To make a space more versatile, you might want to consider getting folding conference tables, which you can tuck away when not in use so that you can use the room for other tasks. You can also get a rolling cart with handle to store supplies and hide them away or a presentation stand with wheels.
8. Space for Brainstorming
As discussed earlier, open collaborative workspaces should still feature rooms for privacy and meetings. These enclosed rooms or huddle spaces must offer a quiet place for meetings and focused work. Plus, they should have at least a few chairs, a table, audiovisual equipment, and tools to communicate with remote workers.
But unlike traditional boardrooms or conference rooms, huddle spaces in modern office design are usually more inviting, and they fit a group of two to five people. Of course, you don’t need to put up walls just to accommodate these spaces. You can simply install partitions to turn a large conference room into multiple huddle spaces.
One tip to make huddle spaces seem less dull and more interesting is to incorporate company branding. Fun colors and themes can instantly breathe life into an otherwise boring room.
9. Space for Socializing and Storage
Time to bring the fun into your workspace. What’s the common thing that most people love? That’s right—food.
While traditional offices already come with pantries, not all have a wide selection of cafes, healthy snacks and drinks, and food prep areas like those in a modern office design. Plus, a mini kitchen serves as a place for gathering employees and building a sense of community. It’s also mostly a no-work-talk zone where workers can relax and share casual conversations.
Apart from having a room for storing and preparing food, your collaborative workspace should have a place for storing office supplies, such as scissors, markers, and post-its. It doesn’t have to be a room—it can be a mobile bin storage unit or a supply cabinet. Just like a mini kitchen, spaces where supplies are stored inevitably bring people together and promote communication.
10. Cozy Elements
Whether you’re going for an industrial look or a minimalist one, a collaborative workspace can look a lot more comfortable with cozy, homey elements.
To turn your workspace into a home away from home, you can add furnishings and decor that remind your teams and clients of home. Get comfortable couches for your reception area, put coffee tables in your lounge area, or grow indoor plants to brighten up your office. With a homey collaborative workspace, your employees can feel less stressed, more comfortable, and more productive overall.
Things to Consider
Before you call an interior designer and plan your collaborative workspace design, you still need to consider a few things.
For one, you have to examine your company’s end goals with a collaborative workspace. Think about what your company needs to achieve, make a list of those priorities, and design your office around those goals and priorities.
As with most decisions, you need to ask yourself if you have a sufficient budget and space for all of these collaborative workspace elements. Your company’s goals can serve as references for the workspace elements that you should prioritize.
Again, your modern office design all boils down to your employees’ needs. Do they prefer a quiet corner to work in? Do they need specific resources or technology? Asking employees what they want is the first step toward creating a collaborative workspace.
When you’re in the market for collaborative workspace furniture and equipment, make sure to get from the best office furniture brands. Engineer Warehouse offers a wide selection of modern office furniture, supplies, and equipment made only by the best brands out there. Browse through our catalog and order furniture for your office today!