Informal Collaboration Pods

Collaborative Workspaces: How to Create the Ideal Environment

The average desk job looks very different today than it did a few years ago. Not only has the technology we use in our everyday roles transformed – but the way we work together in our teams has also changed, along with the how we think about work in a cultural sense.

Some more creative businesses have always set up their offices in a way that fosters community and collaboration, but more and more companies are slowly beginning to rethink their physical office space and create environments that reflect our modern and innovative ways of working.

But what makes for a collaborative work space, and how can you go about building one that helps you get the best from your employees? Keep reading for our insights on how to create a collaborative work environment.

How has collaborative working evolved?

There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic had an unprecedented impact on our working environments, but even before 2020, offices were undergoing a gradual transformation from the more conventional setup.

The Rise of Open Plan

Where the layout of an office has traditionally indicated the hierarchy of staff – with a private room for each of the senior team members, and individual cubicles for those working at the same level – the last few decades have seen a considerable shift towards hot desking and open-plan design.

While cubicles may have offered increased privacy, this came at the cost of other benefits like the opportunity to see and interact with colleagues, or enjoy natural light. By contrast, open plan offices naturally encourage collaboration, and more importantly, they break down the siloes that often exist between staff at different levels within a business. This makes open plan offices more compatible with the relaxed and informal styles of management and leadership that are popular today.

Incorporating Hybrid Working Models

Similarly, recent stats show that 60% of employees have flexible working arrangements in their current roles, with hybrid working models proving extremely popular amongst the modern workforce. This “best of both” approach has also changed physical offices, as they need to facilitate collaboration and communication within a team that’s split between home and the office.

That might mean reducing the number of desks in your office space altogether, investing in new technologies like collaboration solutions and video conferencing tools, or creating quiet spaces like call booths where team members can take meetings without disturbing their colleagues.

Benefits of Collaborative Working

A collaborative workspace offers a solid range of advantages, not just for your team but also for you and your wider business. Take a look at some of the most significant benefits below:

  • Increased Productivity
    Collaborative workspaces encourage just that: collaboration. Without cubicle walls or formal seating plans in place, staff can move more freely to work together, so they can benefit from each other’s expertise, reducing bottle necks and boosting productivity.
  • Improved Staff Satisfaction
    This type of office also lends itself to a fairly social way of working. Spending more time together and learning to work as a team fosters a sense of solidarity and trust, which can improve staff satisfaction and therefore staff retention too. 
  • Better Company Culture
    Creating a collaborative workspace often has the secondary effect of transforming company culture – siloes are diminished until teams function in a less hierarchical way, and managers seem more approachable, as they’re not hidden from view in their own office. 
  • Flexibility and Creativity
    In a flexible working environment like this, staff have the space to bounce ideas off each other, organise impromptu, informal meetings and actually do the work itself in pairs or groups, all of which makes for a far more creative approach.

How to Encourage Collaborative Working as a Leader

If your team is prone to working independently, or the nature of their work is fairly solitary, it can be hard to encourage a change of mindset and alter that default way of operating. Here are some small things you can do to try and push for collaboration within your team:

  1. Reward Successful Teamwork When You See It
    When your team is working together in an efficient, synchronised way, make sure you recognise and reward them for that effort. Positive reinforcement like this can help to encourage a gradual shift in your everyday ways of working.
  2. Encourage a Culture of Communication
    Transparency is central to collaboration. Finding professional ways to share ideas and feedback, set expectations and communicate boundaries will transform the way your team works together, and improve employee morale too.
  3. Facilitate Collaboration Between Employees
    Even the most talented team will struggle to work together without the proper tools. Make sure your staff have access to the right collaboration solutions, so they can work in live documents concurrently and stay in touch – particularly if your team is hybrid working.
  4. Create the Right Environment
    Lastly, try and build a collaborative workspace that encourages creativity and enables communication. Think about providing areas suitable for activities like group brainstorms, private 1-2-1s, or sharing works-in-progress via wireless presentation.


Creating a Collaborative Work Space

If you’re thinking about how to create a collaborative work environment in your current office, there are a few different factors to consider.

Office Layout

The layout of the office — as well as the furniture in it — can set the tone for how your team works together. For instance, the inclusion of collaboration and huddle spaces will facilitate regular casual catchups, especially when kitted out with comfortable seating and screens for video calls or screensharing. Similarly, it’s worth having designated shielded spaces where distractions are out of sight for periods of hard focus, and a large breakout area big enough for the whole team, in case of company training or all-hands meetings.

Technological Requirements

When you’re working out the design of your office space, it’s also worth considering the tech that’ll help you get the best from your team. If you’re planning to take a BYOD approach, you’ll need to ensure everyone has an appropriate device. Make sure meetings rooms are equipped with the necessary audio visual tech for both in-person and hybrid meetings – including interactive screens, UC cameras and room booking panels to make availability clear and simple.

Planning With the Experts

If you’ve been tasked with an office redesign or turning your existing office into a more collaborative environment, then we always recommend outsourcing to the experts. From commercial architects to audio-visual specialists like UniAV — there’s a lot of help available if you’ve got the time to bring in the professionals.

Costs and Budgeting

Creating a genuinely collaborative workspace is a worthwhile investment for your business, but with so many different elements to consider, staying on top of costs can feel daunting. We offer an audio visual consultancy service that will see you right through from initial design and specification to detailed price modelling – so you’re not stung by any surprise expenses. Our experienced team works closely with architects, interior designers, and mechanical and electrical consultants, integrating the full spectrum of expertise into your bespoke project.

To learn more about creating a collaborative work space with Universal AV, reach out to us and a member of our team will get back to you soon with more information.

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