January 19, 2024

How the Best Collaborative Workspaces Are Made

Work is changing. 

Spurred on by the popularity of the open plan office, individualised cubicles are giving way to a more connected and collaborative approach. But with a third of Australians working from home, is it time for us to revisit the effectiveness of collaborative workspaces?

Below we’ll explore the design considerations we’ll be weighing up in our upcoming fitouts, as we look to create the best collaborative workspaces for our clients. With the right choices you can create a space that inspires creativity and experimentation; opening the floor for your team to take on its biggest challenges together.

What is a Collaborative Workspace?

A collaborative workspace refers to a physical or digital environment where teams work together, sharing resources, ideas, and knowledge to achieve common goals. This type of workspace is designed to promote collaboration and communication between individuals. Collaborative workspaces can take various forms, including physical offices, coworking spaces, or virtual platforms that facilitate remote collaboration.

Key features of collaborative workspaces may include open floor plans, shared workstations, meeting rooms, hotdesks, and collaborative tools and technologies. These spaces are often structured to break down traditional barriers and foster a sense of community and free-flowing exchange of ideas.

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How to Create a Collaborative Workspace

Below are six key pillars you should consider when designing a workspace built around productivity and effective collaboration.

1. Design a Breakout Space

Collaborative offices do not have to always be open plan. Sometimes the inclusion of a breakout space is just enough to leverage the productivity benefits achieved through teamwork. 

Breakout spaces are designated areas within an office or other commercial space specifically designed as separate areas for people to take a break or work away from their normal workspace. These spaces typically offer a more relaxed and informal environment where employees can collaborate with colleagues and clients, work independently, and enjoy a change of scenery. 

If you have limited space, office kitchens can doubly function as a breakout space. Consider how different furniture and fixture choices can turn your office kitchen into a multipurpose space. Efficient office fitout design can make this possible.

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2. Creating Space to Brainstorm

The way we work has changed rapidly over the last few years. Teams are now mixing remote work with in-person office sessions during the week. Some team members may be working in a different time zone entirely.

Space for individuals to perform their best work is essential, but at times a project requires multiple minds to work together. To accomplish this, your team needs a physical space to brainstorm, commonly referred to as a “war room”. These spaces are a meeting of minds to focus on strategic, multi-faceted projects. They include:

  • Whiteboards
  • Large tables for individuals to work on documents and ideas together
  • Video conferencing technology 
  • Data sharing and screencasting technology
  • Comfortable chairs for long brainstorming sessions

3. Designing Around Creativity

Great ideas don’t just happen. Teams need physical space to come up with new ideas, and the standard office cubicle may feel uninspiring to some workers.

At the same time, work styles will vary among your team. Some individuals need to step away from the larger brainstorming group and work alone before they find a great idea. To cultivate this creative environment, choose more informal design choices like sofas or lounge chairs. This break away from traditional office design is a delightful interruption from the routine desk work, allowing your team to relax into a more creative workflow.

For more introverted individuals, office pods and designated private spaces can be havens for solo experimentation and risk-taking.

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4. A Space for Presenting and Sharing

Outside of creating a space that fosters productive work, collaborative offices should have a space for sharing this work with clients and the wider team. Within this designated area there should be adequate room to train and onboard new staff. If you are unable to build a special room for presentations, designate an area for multipurpose use.

For these spaces to work, there should be technology oriented towards sharing. Video conferencing technology should be installed with functionality for in-person and virtual employees to see what’s being presented. Chairs should be oriented towards the presenter.

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Consider Your Company Culture

Over time through leadership and hiring choices, your team will develop a unique way of working with each other. Company culture comes in many forms. Some teams are familial and clandestine, others like to “move fast and break things”. Whatever culture your team imbues, you should design your collaboration spaces to reflect this overall ethos. 

For example, a team with an Adhocracy culture will thrive well in spaces that promote experimentation. They are creators and require tools to record all of their many abstract ideas. Designing with this in mind, a simple whiteboard won’t do. You may need to bring in bigger elements (e.g. a whiteboard wall) along with relaxing furniture to promote creative brainstorming.

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Designing For Privacy & Introverted Work Styles

You can’t achieve effective collaboration without also considering the needs of everyone on your team. Some are introverts, some are extroverts, and some lie somewhere in between. Accommodating for various work styles can unlock peak productivity across the entire workforce.

One small way to create private space for solo workers is through the use of office pods and partitions. Both design choices clearly delineate private and quiet work areas from public areas in your open plan office. 

Providing this option for privacy doesn’t hinder collaboration, it actually promotes it. Individuals can step away from group project work and flesh out their ideas on their own. After experimenting in private, they can then return to the larger group with their findings. 

The fitout we completed for Guest Group shows how private offices within collaborative workspaces can effectively promote the exchange of new ideas. In the floorplan, individuals have the option to work in private offices that coexist within an open, centralised space for collaboration. Team members can also use this space to meet clients.

Design the Best Collaborative Workspace with Canopy Fitouts

By breaking down physical and digital walls, collaborative workspaces create a landscape where creativity flourishes, and diverse perspectives converge to tackle business challenges. Through intelligent design and alignment with your company culture, these spaces can empower individuals to contribute their unique strengths to a project, all while benefiting from the collective expertise of their peers.

At Canopy Fitouts we create collaborative workspaces that inspire. We pride ourselves on learning exactly how your team works together, using effective design to create beautiful office fitouts that promote productivity and employee wellbeing. Speak to our team today and we’d be more than happy to give you advice on cost, budgets, requirements, and timeframes for your office fitout. Give us a call at 1800 434 868 or email info@canopyfitouts.com.au and let’s bring your vision to life.