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Making your Office more Collaborative - Through Design

We all want our teams and departments to move fast – discuss, decide and act quickly. We can’t have employees and teams working in silos. We need different departments to meet, collaborate, share information, engage and act with speed. Also, a chance conversation at the coffee machine could help avoid weeks of miscommunication and back-and-forth emails & Slack chats. Part of it comes from the company culture, but a large part of building a collaborative workspace and environment comes down to how your space is designed and built. So how can we design our workspace to improve collaboration, both within and between teams?

Have different kinds of meeting places.

  • Micro-cafes and kitchen tables for a more informal setting for project meetings. Here is an interesting article on the increasing use of kitchens to increase collaboration.

  • Small breakout desks and sofas for getting away from the desk and brainstorming, either solo or in a group.

  • Proper meeting rooms for more formal meetings.

  • Breakout spaces should look and feel different. Here’s a good guide on how to distinguish your breakout spaces from the rest of your office.

  • Put your coffee machines and water coolers out in the open, rather than in an enclosed pantry. This will encourage people from different teams to catch up, an opportunity that might not otherwise arise.

  • Make your meeting rooms more interesting, and provide for different kinds of spaces. Use different colors, change the furniture. One with formal chairs, one with a couple of bean bags, some artificial turf and plants – a more relaxed setting will get people to think more and work better together.

Create separate work and collaboration zones.

Understand that at the workspace, you’re dealing with both extroverts and introverts; people who work better in complete silence, and those who work better in an active environment; and those who out-and-out love chaos. There’s no one answer for everyone, so try to have some hot-desking seats of different kinds – some that are quieter, and some that are more in the center of the action. Also, make sure that the zones are clearly marked out; as they say here, you could use colors to clearly demarcate the silent and the collaborative zones.

Use colors well.

As we discussed in our post on picking the right wall colors for your office, there are colors that encourage thought, and those that encourage action. But equally important, a variety of colors rather than just a simple white everywhere will encourage people to be more creative and work better together.

Have smaller office cabins.

The trend of larger and larger and larger offices is finally reversing, with even top management of startups preferring to sit in smaller cabins. This saves space, reduces the feeling of “this is my office, my fiefdom” and encourages employees to be out in the open area more. Besides, larger offices are more a symbol of status and hierarchy than of any work-related necessity. Bring down the hierarchy, it’s a leftover of the 80s and 90s.

Introduce more natural light.

Windowless offices tend to be soul-crushing, and increase stress. A large part of this is just picking the right office space – make sure that you select an office with lots of access to natural light. Also, use glass partitions wherever you can, they’ll maximise light transfer.

Want to know more about how to increase collaboration at your office? Call us today, or drop by our office!


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