Tips for Creating Collaboration Zones in an Office Environment Make the most out of your office design!


The forward-thinking companies among us will already recognise that nurturing staff wellbeing increases employee engagement, creativity and productivity. And what’s the best way to do that? Well, with your office design, of course!

Nurturing the team with the environment on offer is important and, when it comes to office design, creating the best collaborative zone is going to be top of your priority list.

Welcome to our own collaborative office. We’ve been practising what we preach and divided our own space up with glass partitions to allow for privacy and noise reduction, while still giving our team somewhere to go to gather and innovate in groups.

In this modern world, technology is more important than ever, but for a lot of companies, there is still an appreciation for the magic of human connection and what it can achieve. As a result, collaboration in the workplace is actually at an all-time high. People are still gathering, either formally or informally, to generate new ideas.

If you’re still wondering what we mean by ‘collaborative workspace’, they’re generally offices that have been set up in a way that maximises the opportunities for and ideally encourages people to work together. For example, by giving them the chance to move around freely and interact with a degree of flexibility.

At a glance, the high-level benefits of having a collaborative workspace include:

  • Better staff retention
  • Positive work culture
  • More effective teamwork and meetings 
  • Better staff morale
  • New ideas that may not have emerged otherwise  
  • Increased communication between more traditionally isolated teams

Higher shared stools offer Envirovent’s staff the chance to move away from their usual desks and work around a table with their colleagues as an option.

Collaboration looks different for every company 

What does it take to create a truly collaborative office space and, more importantly, what could this look like for your company?

There are a number of things to consider, as we know from our years of experience in office design for a range of industries. Not everyone works in the same way or at the same time. One size doesn’t fit all.

A stunning collaborative space at the HQ of eCommerce beauty brand, West Barn Co.

Collaborative and communal spaces come in a variety of different forms. Your collaborative working zones might come in the form of:

  • A productivity area
  • Drop-in spots
  • Private spaces
  • Casual brainstorming space or ‘Huddle Space’
  • Formal or informal meeting spaces
  • A space-within-a-space
  • Hot desking
  • Auditorium space 
  • Shared desk space 
  • Open plan office design 
  • Bench seating
  • Breakout space 
  • Town hall space 
  • Learn and share space 

We have been working for our client Unilever for over 10 years, and recently completed this new learn and share space which can be easily configured for different functions! 

We take into consideration what your business is, what your employees do, how they prefer to work, along with your existing company culture. Budget and space will also have a big impact on the plans. We know that proper planning prevents your investment from becoming a costly and unnecessary overhead.

Let’s ask the three big questions and look in more detail at some of those areas that will need addressing when you’re designing your collaborative workspace.

1. What is it you want to achieve?

We’ve established that the overall key purpose of designing a collaborative office space is to encourage a workplace of discussion and teamwork. However, in terms of what you want to achieve looks different for every company.

It might simply be to provide different zones for your employees to work from, away from their desks, such as acoustic booths, acoustic pods or a breakout space. Or, it might be to achieve a flexible work environment which is futureproof, meaning your new collaborative office design will stand the test of time.

We recently completed a project for Hedgehog Lab in Newcastle (below), their aim was to have a collaborative workspace in order to maximising their social capital, similarly, Reward Finance came to us with an already highly responsive workplace culture, but wanted their workplace to better reflect this. So, think about what it is that you are trying to achieve.

2. What do your employees need?

Knowing how your employees will be using the space is a big one. Whether they’ll be standing or sitting, whether they’d prefer more quiet areas such as pods for focus work, or to open up a discussion by creating an open plan workspace. That said, there’s no limit to office design and it is possible to have both!

Consider the age and demographic of your workforce and the activities or nature of the work being done, whether any tools, such as workplace technology, might be beneficial, and don’t forget to actually ask your team what they want from their new office design. Involve them in the process!

We installed some funky phone booths recently for our client KnowBe4, within the open plan office space, proof you can have the best of both worlds, even if you want a collaborative office design!

3. What’s the space and budget available?

These are two big considerations, even on the smallest budget and with limited space, it’s usually still possible to create flexible, collaborative solutions for most organisations. This might include value engineering or even reusing some existing furniture where possible.

Especially with a little expert Ben Johnson Interiors know-how! It’s our job to maximise your time and financial investment in the project and use the allowance to its full potential for you.

Some of the many solutions that can help achieve a more collaborative office include getting rid of walls and physical barriers, decorating to inspire with brand colours, creating different zones for different purposes, embracing technological advances in your industry and beyond, and making sure you balance the ‘us time’ with ‘me time’ to ensure everyone in your office is able to do their best work.

Light, bright and comfortable collaboration space in the lovely Circus PPC workspace. We are currently working on their next amazing workspace! 

To recap, with employees seeking more effective ways to collaborate as a team, offices really do need to be set up in a way that boosts creativity and encourages collaboration.

Just adding better, moveable furniture, creating open spaces and connecting people with cutting-edge workplace technology means anyone can create a collaborative workspace in their office, which will ultimately lead to increased productivity and motivation.

At Ben Johnson Interiors we can help you devise a strategy that best suits your business, allowing for the collaboration to happen in organic, creative ways to make the most of your space and boost productivity and get in touch to benefit from our expertise advice.