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5 Ways to Improve Collaboration with Office Design

Updated: Mar 25

Collaboration and Office Design

It's well known that collaboration is crucial. However, the extent of its impact on performance is less understood. According to a study by Stanford University, teams that collaborate well are 50% more productive. As the place where your people come together, your office has a key role in enabling and encouraging collaboration.

 

If you're struggling with collaboration at your company and you think your office design may be part of the problem, you're in the right place. Since 2008, we've been designing and building workspaces that enhance collaboration and performance. In this article, we'll go through 5 ways you can change your office to help your teams work together better. By the end, you'll know how they can improve productivity, and if they would be beneficial in your office.

 

Add Collaboration Spaces

Unsurprisingly, purpose-designed spaces are very helpful in boosting collaboration. This not only makes sure your people have enough space to do so, but it sends a clear message that collaboration is welcomed and encouraged. As well as large collaboration areas, it's often helpful to have touchdown areas dotted throughout the rest of your space, so that your people can easily work in teams without having to go far.


It's also important to ensure your collaboration spaces suit the way your people work together. Most of the time, your staff will collaborate in groups of 2-5 people, not 10-20. As a result, they need more friendly, comfortable spaces. It is also important to note that meeting rooms are less suitable for collaboration. They tend to have a formal design, more appropriate for exchanging information than working together.

 

Remove Walls

Easy access to colleagues is crucial to effective teamwork. Removing walls can enable this by making your space more open and easier to move around and meet colleagues. Open-plan designs have a bad reputation for being noisy and distracting places to work. However, this is a result of poor acoustics rather than poor design. By creating an open-plan space, you will improve your collaboration.

 

One of the best ways to reduce the amount of partitioning in your space is to reduce the amount of meeting rooms and private offices. Most meeting rooms are only occupied about 10% of the time, so this can be done without any issues for your staff. In fact, if you use that space to create collaboration zones, you can improve teamwork even more! Many offices also have unnecessary corridor partitioning that can be removed to make your office more spacious.

 

Enable Adaptability


One of the most important things you can do to improve the workspace experience of your staff is to give them as much control over their environment as possible. This means they can adapt their space to suit the way they need to work, and get a sense of empowerment that improves their productivity. This is one of the factors that has made homeworking so popular. By replicating that customisability in your office, you can further improve the way your people work together.

 

 

Most offices use fixed partitions and furniture that are difficult to move. By using modular furniture systems and zoning furniture instead of walls, you can create a space that your people can change throughout the day. Being able to move furniture and materials around so they can physically engage with their content and work better as a team can dramatically improve the ability of your staff to collaborate.

 

Add Hybrid Meeting Suites

While you may want everyone back in the office, it’s unlikely you will be able to get all your staff in the office all day every day. Trying to do so may even harm your talent attraction and retention. To make sure your team can collaborate from any location, you’ll need to install hybrid meeting suites.

 

In a spare (or purpose-built) room, you can use screens and a video bar to create an engaging meeting experience, no matter where the attendees are. These can also be located in pods. If you need to collaborate a lot with people globally, you could even install a Hybrid Smartstage, for the full augmented reality experience! In a world with more remote collaboration than ever before, hybrid meeting suites can get the best of both in-person meetings and remote teamwork.

 

Add Focus Zones

While it may sound counter-intuitive, if you want to improve the way your people collaborate, you also need to give them a specific place to focus. This will help keep your staff productive by allowing them to get the right mix of collaboration and individual work. As a result, they won't be held back by either poor communication or a very distracting environment. This activity-based working approach will also help your people to use collaboration spaces exclusively for group working.

 

However, a focussed environment doesn't mean a desk farm. Visual, acoustic, and spatial privacy are all crucial elements of an effective individual work zone. Though some desks are usually appropriate, there are also other options for focussed zones that better match the way your people work. Stand-up pods can be a very useful place to take phone calls. Work pods can also provide a confidential environment for individual working.

 

Improving Your Collaboration

If you're worried about teamwork at your company, redesigning your office could help fix that. Dedicated collaboration spaces can be optimised to help your people work together. Removing walls makes it easier to access and work with colleagues. Designing for adaptability will allow your staff to shape the space to their needs. Hybrid meeting suites will enable effective teamwork even when some staff aren’t in the office. Finally, adding focus zones creates separation and allows your people to work in environments that suit their needs.

 

As the place where your people come together and spend so much time, your office is a crucial part of enabling effective teamwork. Now you know about the top 5 ways to boost collaboration with office design, you can see how many are applied in your office. If some (or all) of them aren't, you know where to start.

 

The purpose of improving collaboration is to boost productivity and ultimately, business performance, To take the next step on that journey, download The Ultimate Guide to Office Design and Productivity. There, you'll get the full breakdown of the why, the how, and the what of staff productivity and office design. Get your Productivity & Office Design Guide Here.

 

To learn more about improving company performance with office design, read 8 Ways Office Design Can Improve Company Performance and How to Create the Right Office For Your Company.

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