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collaborative space

Designing a Collaborative Office Space

A collaborative space defies traditional work settings built around cubicles and single occupancy offices. With major companies like Google, Pixar and Facebook incorporating these designs into their culture, a collaborative office space has the potential of promoting a productive, creative and efficient work environment.

The Philosophy:

By developing opportunities for coworkers to interact and bond, employers create a space that cultivates free thinking and inspired ideas. This idea of increased human interaction among employees and employers challenges dated beliefs on corporate hierarchy, which ultimately builds greater trust and belief in a company’s values.

Key Features of a Collaborative Office Space

Open Air Design

The backbone of a collaborative office space is the open air design. Getting rid of cubicles allows multiple departments or teams to work in the same area, which encourages employees to “collaborate” on a project rather than working on their own. Another benefit of an open air design is the reduction of the costs associated with traditional single occupant offices, cubicles and extensive telecommunication systems. This money can then be reinvested in higher quality ergonomic furniture and common areas.

Multiple Common Areas for Intentional or Accidental Interactions to Occur

Adding more common areas, like cafeterias and break rooms, or whiteboards and chalk boards to brainstorm ideas, will increase the chances of intentional or accidental interactions. Both types of interactions are crucial for different departments or people to meet up and build relationships.

Elimination of Single Occupancy Offices

Two minds are better than one. If certain departments or people need to have their own area, it’s often better to eliminate the confinement of a single occupancy office in favor of multiple people in the same room. From an employer’s perspective, this allows managers to gain greater insight into the work of their employees. For employees, this reduces the isolation associated with being in a room by themselves.

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong option for an office space. While many companies will find the creative atmosphere of a collaborative space exciting, many others will find that they need a more focused and private environment for their staff. Ultimately, the decision of a collaborative office space or a traditional one will depend on the individual needs of a company and its people.

Photo credit: mandiberg / Foter / CC BY-SA

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