Collaborative workspace: a key asset for your business

Young employees sitting in the office at the table and using a laptop, a team work brainstorming meeting concept

Promoting collaboration rather than compartmentalization, the collaborative workspace offers itself as an alternative to the traditional layout of the workspace.

The particularity of this method lies in the balance between productivity and relaxation, sharing and intimacy, cohesion and individuality. Let’s discover more in detail in this article!

Collaborative workspace: a key asset for your business

Employee exchanges are valuable interactions for the company as they promote knowledge sharing, reflection, creativity and productivity. Creating a work space that is conducive to sharing ideas is therefore an intelligent strategy for your company’s performance. Also, collaborative workspace can be a smart space design method since it specifically promotes collaboration. But what exactly does this «collaborative» layout of the workspace consist of? This is what this article proposes to elucidate!

What is a collaborative workspace?

As its name suggests, the collaborative workspace seeks to encourage collaboration within the company. First, it is important to understand the very concept of “collaboration”. It is not simply the interaction between two people, but is really the exchange between different individuals that aims at the pursuit of a shared goal. In the professional sector, collaboration corresponds to joint reflection between several employees who are moving towards a common professional objective. Thus, the objective of collaborative spaces is to bring together the members of a team, even if each holds a different role and status, encouraging them to interact together and to associate in the pursuit of a common goal.

In particular, a study published by Stanford University in 2014 shows that individuals are more happy to work with other individuals, their motivation is stronger when they are not isolated and they express more interest and pleasure in carrying out the required tasks. The feeling of belonging to a group also encourages individuals to surpass themselves: the study states that the members of a collaborative space are committed to carrying out their missions by taking 64% more time than their solitary colleagues and their success rate is often higher. A similar study, published by the I4CP, also shows that companies that promote a collaborative workspace are generally up to five times more successful than others.

The collaborative arrangement is thus different from the classic arrangement of the professional space that is frequently found in companies. The latter is generally in the form of a compartmentalized environment composed of individual and closed offices; it unfortunately has the unfortunate tendency to isolate employees from each other and, since it offers few common spaces, does not particularly promote exchange. However, this arrangement also has many virtues and it is not a question here of refuting it in its entirety but only of pointing out its shortcomings.

If the collaborative workspace therefore challenges the over-partitioned layout of traditional offices, it should not be confused with open-space. In fact, although these two systems of arrangement meet in many ways, in particular in their emphasis on collaboration, the former, however, advocates more possibilities of isolation and intimacy than the latter. Indeed, although open-space makes it possible to create a collective workspace that promotes dialogue and the exchange of ideas between employees, it nevertheless suffers from disadvantages that are particularly harmful to the well-being of the employee. Indeed, according to a study conducted by two Harvard professors, open-space can generate stress in the employee, encroach on his intimacy and, above all, reduce concentration.

Starting from this observation, we can then ask ourselves the following question: how to find the right balance between open-space and traditional office space? This is precisely what collaborative space planning is trying to elucidate. In fact, a collaborative workspace demands a good balance between the “I” and the “we”, in other words, between the need for intimacy and the need for sharing unique to each one.

The three founding concepts of a good collaborative space:

To summarize the collaborative workspace, three fundamental principles can be retained:

1. A diversity of workspaces
It is particularly advisable to offer several types of spaces to your employees such as meeting rooms of various sizes to which they can access both spontaneously or organized, relaxation spaces, informal meeting spaces scattered throughout the company, rest rooms, lunch spaces, or even “phone boxes” or brainstorming rooms. Providing employees with access to various locations allows them to adapt to each person’s personality and respect their individuality. This is particularly beneficial because the goal of collaboration is not precisely assimilation and single thought but the sharing of ideas and the merit of collaboration lies precisely in the exchange of several different opinions.

2. A space that respects everyone’s privacy
Protecting the employee from possible distractions or interruptions and offering them the opportunity to be alone is also highly appreciated by employees. Ideally, this requires suitable layouts such as quiet places available, such as quiet rooms that employees will have the option to book. It is also wise to think of space in such a way that it respects each person’s physical boundaries. Indeed, forcing proximity can be counterproductive for the company and its employees. The ideal design of a collaborative workspace therefore offers enough space for each employee to flourish in complete independence while remaining in contact with his colleagues.

3. Work tools that promote exchange and mobility
To promote mobility across the workspace and encourage the spirit of collaboration, providing employees with lightweight and easily transportable work tools that adapt to their mobility can be useful. In addition, it is advisable to equip yourself with connected digital tools that promote cooperation between employees. Today, there are many cooperative business interfaces that keep employees engaged. Providing your employees with high-performance software will save them considerable time as it will facilitate the exchange of data and data, tasks and team schedules.

Collaboration in the office: a key asset for employee comfort

The layout of collaborative spaces is very popular with employees. In fact, they often criticise the lack of user-friendliness of excessively compartmentalised facilities. Nevertheless, they also blame open-space for hindering their productivity and encroaching on their privacy. The collaborative workspace is then proposed as the ideal balance between these two poles. More generally, the demand of employees for a flexible workspace is now growing. To create a flexible environment means to offer the employee the possibility to choose his working environment according to his desire of the moment, his mood, and his possible tasks.

The human is undeniably affected by his environment, thinking space is also thinking about the individual, his relationship to the world and to others. This is why the layout of the professional space is a practical approach that deserves careful reflection on the part of human resources. Nowadays, new modes of layout of the workspace bring a new wind on the classic layout mode and it is important to listen to the current needs and desires of the employees. Also, the so-called «collaborative» layout can be a solution that will please both employees and companies!

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