Here are three ways you can develop a collaborative workspace without doing too much.
1. Make the Collaborative Office Space Comfortable
When you’re trying to foster creativity, mingling, and openness, it’s best to make the room as comfortable as possible. Think more “a hangout at your friend’s house to binge Netflix” rather than “a courtroom.” You want the space to be inviting and comfortable. Furniture should be comfy and homey. Also aim to utilize natural light as much as possible.
You want people from other companies to walk in and almost mistake the space for their favourite neighbourhood cafe, or their best friend’s living room. Colour should also not be ignored, and not just furniture colours, but the colours of the room itself. Try to avoid having a monochrome office that feels like death’s waiting room.
2. Say Goodbye to Fixed Seating
Building a truly collaborative workspace means allowing for as much flexibility and spontaneity as possible. Fixed seating isn’t very spontaneous. You have to conform to the flooring design as it was built, with no room for customization. Allowing employees the ability to move benches or stools to whatever part of the room, in whichever way they need, facilitates better group activity, better idea creation, and changes the spirit of the room to whatever it needs to be at that particular moment.
You can keep a few main static pieces to help build familiarity and consistency (no one’s saying you have to give in completely to chaos here) but allowing employees to change seating will greatly improve the room’s sense of creative freedom.
3. Fun at Work: Mix “Inviting” with “Productive”
Consider adding a ping-pong table or pinball machine or some other form of entertainment to the room. Working for 52 minutes followed by a 17-minute break (not spent on devices) is the optimal work/rest division for maximum efficiency, and providing some game to be used for stimulating rest can be very beneficial.
You don’t want to turn your collaborative workspace into a complete arcade, but adding some sort of game into the mix can give the room a more relaxing feel, and something like a ping-pong table can allow employees to bounce ideas (as well as ping-pong balls) off each other. Add in a supply of snacks and office supplies to the room, and you’ve just created a space where workplace wellness and innovation can flourish.