The Art of Designing Collaboration Spaces in the Workplace

Collaboration is a major buzzword in the professional world. After the operational trials and tribulations of the last two years, businesses are finding that professional success is rooted in employees partnering together to achieve shared goals. To support this effort, companies of all sizes and across all industries are exploring ways to implement collaborative furniture in the office.

Collaboration is the action of two or more individuals working together to reach a specific objective. Obviously, this isn’t a new concept. Even in the traditional work environment, which consists of an isolated “heads down” approach, everyone’s actions contribute to the same objective: Make the company successful.

However, many employers today are hyper-focused on pushing collaboration to the forefront of day-to-day operations. They find it not only increases employee satisfaction, but it also enhances the well-being of the business.

The Importance of an Innovative and Collaborative Office Space

Promotes a Sense of Belonging

Collaboration encourages people to speak up and work cooperatively with one another. It also shows that every voice in the organization matters and deserves to be heard. Even the more introverted members will find themselves engaging on a deeper level as collaborative efforts progress over time. As employees become more engaged, they feel a sense of belonging. It makes a person feel that his or her mind, voice, and overall presence in the company is valued—creating purpose. This, in turn, generates motivation and makes individuals feel more connected to their professional roles, teams, and employers.

Increases Employee Retention

When employees feel a sense of purpose, it increases their likelihood of staying at a company. The job is about more than collecting a paycheck because they see the value of their role, the business, and how they contribute. Due to this, they want to stay at the company longer, minimizing the idea of searching for employment elsewhere.

Effective employee retention is the most impactful way to maximize productivity while saving money. For a company to thrive, they need to have enough skilled, trained, and trusted people working on their plans and objectives. Poor employee retention costs a business time, money, and productivity. Every time someone ends their employment, it takes resources to find a new hire and train them adequately.

Boosts Problem-Solving

Have you ever been stumped on a problem? Then, asked a friend for their opinion and quickly found a solution? This is an example of a collaborative effort that supports problem-solving. Tackling problems as a collective has many benefits. It allows people with different perspectives, strategies, and backgrounds to come together with the same intent: to overcome challenges. This approach also minimizes error because there are multiple eyes on how to create a bullet-proof solution.

Encourages Team Bonding

Inevitably, working as a group brings people closer together professionally and personally. Regardless of varying backgrounds and personalities, spending time with others builds connection. Employees can find commonalities and identify their own (and each other’s) strengths and weaknesses, creating a stronger team.

Enforces the Why

Have you ever experienced a bad day at work and wondered why you’re there? Oftentimes, when you have a challenging moment by yourself, it’s hard to redirect your mind back to the overarching goal. Professionally, this can minimize productivity and job satisfaction, and may even hinder employee retention. Working as a group, however, continuously reinforces why people are there: to better themselves professionally and further the goals of the company. Collaboration reduces those feelings of isolation and offers opportunities to encourage colleagues to stay on the path of success.

Collaborative Space Design in the Modern Workplace

One by one, workplaces are abandoning high-wall cubicles to support the up-and-coming new office. This concept, also known as the modern work environment, encourages employees to engage with one another. Design options are flexible, ranging from lounge areas and game rooms to collaborative desks.

Here are five design considerations for the modern office environment.

Privacy Solutions in Open-Floor Layouts

The modern work concept is often well-received by employees because it gives them control over how they want to work. While this is fast becoming the new standard, there are times when privacy is needed in an open-floor layout. This is usually the case for staff engaging in focused tasks, virtual meetings, etc. bkm OfficeWorks offers several products that support privacy in the workplace, such as the Boundary Tent and Coppice.

Boundary Tent by Steelcase: Privacy can still be accessible even in offices with open floor plans. The Boundary Tent manufactured by Steelcase is a freestanding screen that delivers on-demand privacy and space definition in any area. This product is lightweight and portable, making it easy to move and provides flexibility to go wherever your work happens.

Coppice: In some situations, such as video conference calls, a quiet environment is vital. Coppice by Orangebox is a standalone workbooth that gives employees a distraction-free area to focus. Designed to facilitate a wide range of configurations, Coppice comes with high walls that shelter people from noise in busy settings.

Comfortable Office Furniture

If you feel good, it shows in your work performance. Employees may spend 40+ hours a week at their jobs, making the office like a second home! As such, comfortability is a critical factor for collaboration. When people are at ease, they feel more motivated, communicate more effectively, and are willing to collaborate for longer time periods.

Steelcase Flex Height-Adjustable Desk: Everything you expect from a height-adjustable desk, but better. This desk sits on wheels, also known as directional rollers, and moves quickly and smoothly due to its sleek design. Employees can easily push desks together for collaborative efforts and, when done, can maneuver them to quiet areas for focus time.

Cobi: Many people can relate to the pain of sitting in an uncomfortable chair for hours on end. Not only does this lead to back and shoulder problems, but physical discomfort can cause mental frustration as well. When you aren’t feeling well, the last thing you want to do is collaborate with others. That is why the cobi chair by Steelcase is perfect for meeting rooms. The sleek and innovative design minimizes pressure points, allowing people to feel comfortable during team discussions.

Lively Designs for Workspaces

Our environments shape how we feel. For example, a beige color palette can trigger feelings of exhaustion, making it a poor choice for areas intended to support productivity and collaboration. With the help of bkm’s design experts, companies are discovering the benefits of creating lively workspaces. This involves pops of color, accessories, plants, and much more to add a unique flair to an office space. This modern design approach has been shown to improve employee mood, collaboration, creativity, and output.

bkm’s newest division, FRINGE, does exactly this. It focuses on what goes inside of the office space to spark positive and productive momentum. It intertwines functionality with visual appeal, creating a personality that is unique to a company.

FRINGE offers:

  • Accent and custom furniture
  • Unique office plants (indoor/outdoor spaces)
  • Sound-absorbing panels
  • Acoustic screens
  • Desk dividers
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Living wall/moss wall
  • Art (original and sourced)
  • Signage (safety, directional, banners, murals)
  • Rugs
  • High-tech accessories

Huddle Rooms

Huddle rooms are just that—places where teams meet to collaborate on projects. The style of a huddle room varies, making it easy for companies to personalize designs and meet the unique needs of their teams.

Team Huddle: This flexible and unique environment promotes collaboration for employees. The stackable Steelcase Flex Perch Stool can easily accommodate team meetings while communication with in-house and remote staff is at an all-time high with the Steelcase Flex Media Cart.

Overhead Tent: This is the perfect addition to encourage collaboration in an open-floor layout. Not only is the architecture-inspired design visually appealing, but it offers privacy as well. The sheer, unique, and lightweight layer creates a sense of privacy while allowing employees to socialize in the open. Its versatile design is roomy enough to support either lounge or small-collaboration settings.

Technology Options

This is a highly important consideration for hybrid workplaces. Using appropriate technology to connect in-office and remote colleagues is a necessary investment to elevate the productivity, culture, and focus of a company.

Steelcase Roam: Innovative mobility is a given with this system of mobile stands and easy-to-install wall mounts. This workplace solution moves easily on smooth rolling casters for easy on-the-go transitions throughout any area, supporting collaboration in conference rooms, private offices, casual spaces, and beyond.

media:scape by Steelcase: This cutting-edge product integrates technology, furniture, and space with an organization’s existing infrastructure to foster greater collaboration than ever before. Teams optimize each media:scape setting to best meet their needs, from sharing wirelessly in a small huddle room, to a team brainstorm over video.

To learn how to improve collaboration in your workspace, contact the bkm OfficeWorks design experts.