Tips for Creating Collaboration Zones in an Office Environment


The forward-thinking companies among us will already recognise that nurturing staff wellbeing increases employee engagement, creativity and – bottom-line – 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, we’re bombarded with technology and often that can lead to feelings of isolation (especially during a global pandemic scenario!) but there’s 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.

So, let’s get together…

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
  • More effective meetings and teamwork
  • Boosted staff morale and a positive culture
  • New ideas that may not have emerged otherwise
  • Increased communication between more traditionally isolated teams

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

Okay, we’ve covered the what and the why but now for the how.

What does it take to create a truly collaborative space in an office 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 designing office space for a range of industries.

When it comes to collaborative spaces, it’s all about nailing the age-old balance of ‘me’ and ‘we’. Not everyone works in the same way or at the same time. One size doesn’t fit all.

A stunning collaborative space at the recently-completed 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
  • Shielded or private spaces
  • Casual brainstorming space or ‘Huddle Space’
  • Formal or informal meeting spaces
  • A space-within-a-space
  • Hot desking
  • Bench seating
  • Shared desk space
  • Shared dining areas

There are plenty of different options for the LeoVegas staff in their Newcastle office, all centred around this shared kitchen and dining area, complete with tables and then a bench containing the area.

We’ve encountered clients who want to directly replicate something successful they’ve seen elsewhere and we always reiterate that it’s crucial to make sure this will work best for you.

We take into consideration what your business is, what your employees do, how they prefer (and need) to work, along with your existing company culture. Budget and space will, of course, 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 creating your collaborative workspace.

1. What is it you want to achieve?

We’ve established that the overall key purpose of the area should be to encourage an atmosphere of discussion and teamwork.

What does that look like for your company? Is it simply to provide staff with an alternative spot to work in, away from their desk?

Creating an option for a change of scenery is certainly a viable purpose when you consider how unhealthy it can be to sit in the same spot day after day.

You might also want to offer some quiet space and privacy, if your office is usually quite noisy, or somewhere with added comfort to promote a more relaxed vibe.

2. What do your employees need?

Knowing how they’ll be using the space is a big one. Whether they’ll be standing or sitting, whether they’d prefer communal benches or a quiet, snug corner to open up a discussion.

Consider the age and demographic of your workforce and the activities or nature of the work being done, whether refreshments would help and if any tools (such as whiteboards or tech) might be beneficial, and don’t forget to actually ask your team! Involve them in the process!

Creating collaborative space doesn’t have to mean dedicating whole rooms – this example in the Netsells offices allows staff to meet and collaborate in private.

3. What’s the space and budget available?

These are two big considerations but, even on the smallest budget and with limited space, it’s usually still possible to create some kind of flexible, collaborative solution for most organisations.

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 appropriate decor and furnishings, 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.

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 peak collaborative behaviours at all times.

Just adding better, moveable furniture, creating open spaces and connecting people with cutting-edge tech 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.