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Establishing a Collaborative Workplace

Posted by Path Interactive on : May  20,  2014

By and large, collaboration at work is a fundamental part of achieving your end goal – whether you’re trying to create a new technology or refine a business strategy, two minds are often better than one. Yet for all of our meetings and planning, productive collaboration is often spontaneous in a way that is difficult to harness and box in. From a design perspective, a true collaborative workplace is one in which there is space for both free play and order; the presence of structure but with built-in flexibility. So what do collaborative offices look like, and how do they function? Let’s investigate.

In Collaborative Offices, Space is the Place

One of the fundamental shifts we have seen in recent years is a movement away from offices designed around a cubicle format and more towards an open plan that accentuates a feeling of shared space. In part, this can be achieved by trading in clear delineation of personal space at the office in exchange for more general “zones.” Employees often still work at a specific desk — but instead of being walled in, this space tends to share borders with the desks of other employees within their team. By “breaking down” these barriers, collaboration in the moment is often more readily possible.

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Socializing is no less fundamental a human behavior between 9 and 5. There’s no reason why “talk around the water cooler” at your office can’t lead to the free sharing of information and the proliferation of new ideas. Collaboration at work is often enabled through the creation of a social space such as a coffee bar, lounge or kitchen/eating area.

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Collaborate with Technology

With the advent of cloud computing, we can now access all of our documents and programs from virtually any location. This is a functionality that employees rightly expect to have embedded throughout their work environment. It’s also a concept that is instrumental to collaboration at work. Conference rooms and other collaborative spaces are of little use without complete integration with the technologies that employees would normally access from their desks. If your office has limited space available to dedicate to collaborative work, making sure technological aides are close at-hand becomes all the more important.

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At the minimum, this means inclusion of flat screen surfaces and wifi connectivity in conference rooms. By using screens to display and work on documents instead of distributing paper equivalents, the changes and innovations that come with successful collaboration can take place more dynamically. In addition to aiding the establishment of a collaborative workplace, this shift away from paper is good for the environment as well.

Collaboration at Work is, Well, Collaborative

It’s not enough to stock your conference rooms with the latest technology and carve out a social space for employees to congregate. The third and crucial component to fostering a collaborative workplace is to communicate that this type of behavior is not only ok, it’s actually the status quo. In many offices, employees take their cues from their managers and the directives of corporate officers. As management, it’s important to yourself take advantage of the collaborative spaces you create. Encourage the collaborative behaviors you wish to see by engaging in them yourself. When employees feel they can freely socialize in the space you’ve provided — and that they have the technology at their disposal to utilize its sharing potential to the fullest — you’re well on your way to reaping the benefits that collaboration at work can bring.

At Benhar Office Interiors, we know collaborative office design. To learn how our custom solutions can increase the productivity and growth potential of your business, contact us online or call 212-481-6666.

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