Collaborative Workspace Design

What is the correlation between providing the appropriate percentage of collaborative workspaces to the effectiveness and well-being of a workplace environment?

I sit in a corner of an open office environment with natural light surrounding me on all sides. My project designer is situated about five feet away from me, only separated by a low partition but often times, she, a millennial, wants the separation between us to dissipate. I know she would gladly squeeze into what little counter space I have left to enhance our connections of working together. This demonstrates her willingness to give up her “I” space to create “we” space.

Collaborative workspaces should not merely be defined as open area work stations but as a gathering place to initiate creativeness, engaging with people on a one-on-one basis, and fostering meaningful communications. Some diverse forms of collaborative environments may include:

  • Soft seating groups for informal interactions, could also function as a no technology zone (people express themselves more freely when they feel comfortable).
  • Social areas where integration of technology provides real time information and the ability to remote access in (natural progressions of being flexible and opening up communications): indoor/outdoor spaces, staff break rooms and various types of video conferencing to join the interactions.
  • Develop pods of locations of varying adjustable chairs and tables.
  • Provide benching style workstations for customization of personal space.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact percentage a company should calculate for collaborative workspaces, whether it’s new construction or an interior renovation. As each firm varies from size to the nature of their business, it is best to consider the following when developing the program:

  • Think of collaborative workspaces as intimate spaces to foster and develop innovation
  • Promote “we” spaces
  • Evaluate the percentage of Millennials, as they will drive and initiate the evolution of the workplace

Change is not easy to embrace, but a better way of living in the workplace is, and any initiative to incorporate intimate space will have long lasting results in the overall effectiveness and wellness of the workplace.

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Chung Gobell is the Director of Interior Design at Heath Design Group, Inc.

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