Collaboration is the vibe of the moment! Gone are the days of a lone genius tapping away in the corner, working solo on the next big ideas. In more modern times that focus has shifted to team effort and the mountain of benefits that come from this healthier way of working. We’re talking about everything from increased employee satisfaction to a boost in idea generation and innovation – both offering major pros for your business as a whole.
Wait, what’s a collaborative workplace?
Generally speaking, a collaborative workplace is a space set up in a way that encourages colleagues to work together.
There are so many options to meet and collaborate in the LeoVegas offices in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Let’s recap the benefits of a collaborative workplace
Collaboration puts creativity and (importantly) freedom at the forefront. It shows that we understand that integrating thoughts from multiple perspectives interacting is better than one, frazzled brain trying to have all of the answers.
Group work and brainstorming is a natural result of socialising and human interaction. In relaxed, open-plan spaces, colleagues can easily chat to each other organically – sometimes about work, sometimes not – without having to schedule a formal meeting. This usually means tasks are completed more efficiently.
A collaborative workplace usually also improves the overall atmosphere, partially socially. This plays a part in job satisfaction and morale, and helps inspire staff to do their best work.
For a change from their usual desk area, the employees at Boxclever Consulting can now choose to sit at these assorted areas of group tables and benches, for a more sociable way of working.
Our Top 7 tips for creating a collaborative workplace:
This is both physical and metaphorical. Being open with your employees about the company goals and challenges is crucial here. Sure, you don’t need to share every snippet of gossip or any confidential information but keeping the lines of communication open between the hierarchical levels, ensuring everyone is in the loop, will go a long way to inspiring loyalty and productivity.
And, as for those physical walls – get rid of them! Walled rooms aren’t especially stimulating, offer low levels of flexibility and keep team members locked into one place. These barriers hinder socialisation and progression. Opening the space up encourages employees to move around the building.
Instead you might want to divide areas with dynamic, moveable items of furniture, plantlife or even acoustic panelling suspended from the ceiling.
There are so many great ways to divide a space that isn’t permanent and doesn’t close a space off, such as these rope ‘walls’ in the lovely new West Barn Co. offices in County Durham.
Decorate to inspire
Think vibrant but not distracting colours, round tables, more plants, stimulating textures and decentralised furniture. Those sorts of details are far more likely to bring out the creativity of the team than white walls and stuffy conference rooms ever could.
There are heaps of furnishing options out there at the moment that are designed specifically to enable collaborative working, altering or shifting at the drop of a hat into something that could be used for an alternative purpose, for example a desk that flips to become a white board or literally any piece of furniture that is on casters! (More on this one in a sec…)
Encourage socialisation across departments
Rather than keeping different teams segregated, having everyone work with the same people day in, day out can become samey. This isn’t ideal for innovation. Engagement between teams and departments can bring fresh ways of thinking into the mix. The winning combination of different skill sets, experiences, objective and personality types can be extremely useful.
You could do this in a number of ways, including having shared break-out or break time spaces where usually-separate colleagues can collide, or by offering hotdesking opportunities to mix everyone up.
Create different spaces
Following on from point number 3, it’s also useful to create a variety of different zones or areas to allow for different kinds of interactions to maximise potential. Yes, a long shared desk is great but a pool table brings something different to the er… table.
Yes, we said pool table and we meant it. And that’s exactly what we did for BetUK in the LeoVegas office, who can now play a game of pool while brainstorming new ideas!
Mixed-use areas allow people to approach work or chat in new ways, in whichever manner they’re most comfortable. You could pop down some floor cushions and beanbags, sofa areas, a good old (but shiny and new) coffee machine… All of these aren’t going to be only used for forced meeting times, but rather will let staff members work individually in each other’s presence, perhaps starting up conversations and problem-solving together in a natural way.
Two of the most common ways of offering this include either with a Huddle Room or a Collision Room. Huddle rooms include a mix of tools (whiteboards, computer screens, books etc). The core objective should be to ease communication and processes as people gather to discuss ideas.
Collision rooms are communal spaces, strategically placed so people can gather to take breaks. People often run into each other over lunch, at the coffee machine or even when they pop out for a breath of fresh air. These are places they can relax and recharge, but also where they can connect with their team in new ways, after from their tasks. Ideas are actually spontaneously generated at these points, making them well worth the investment.
We’ve also chatted about this previously in our Guide-to Creating Collaboration Zones in An Office Environment.
Grab a stool! These centralised spaces offer the Circus PPC team increased opportunities for socialisation and collaborative working.
Have the right tools and tech
Sounds obvious perhaps, but it’s worth saying; you really need to ensure you have the appropriate technology in place to enable your team to get things done, including collaborative working. Embrace technological advances and communication tools, support information sharing, virtual brainstorming and efficient, shareable project management software.
Don’t forget about those who aren’t in the office too! Cloud-based software and up-to-date virtual meeting capabilities are essential these days, along with making sure your staff have any devices they may need to stay in touch with their team.
Seek out moveable furniture
As mentioned above, there are so many items and products on the market at the moment and new designs are being released all the time that will promote and aid collaborative working especially. You can also add wheels to just about anything!
Your people need a dynamic space that can keep up with them and adapt at a moment’s notice. They’ll likely need the freedom to be able to hack or reconfigure a space to suit a certain conversation or moment. Fixed, older furniture won’t be able to do the job.
People do some of their best work while standing, as they’re more energised and focused, so alternative furnishings that cater for that will also boost productivity, such as standing desks (or ideally adjustable ones!).
And don’t forget to balance ‘us’ with ‘me’
Allow for work that isn’t collaborative too! I know we’ve just waxed lyrical about the perks of collaborative working, but the best way to facilitate that in the office also includes spaces to retreat to when a worker wants quiet, head-down time.
Bear in mind that not everyone works in the same way, or on the same tasks, all of the time. Individual focus is important too. The most successful offices cater for both ways of working, cleverly balancing the ‘us’ time with ‘me’ time, so leave space for quieter, more secluded spots too.
We’ve made it super easy for the staff at Firmenich to find a comfortable spot for either collaborative or solo working in their newly completed office.
Ready to boost collaboration in your office?
Great! Now you know that working on an open and creative culture will encourage increased involvement and motivate the team, causing more ideas to come forward, and all this can be done through effective interior design in the office.
Ben Johnson Interiors can help you devise a strategy that best suits your people and your company, allowing for collaboration to happen in organic ways. Explore our services or get in touch to find out more.