It’s no secret that modern work is driven by collaboration, even across diverse organizations. From companies like Jaguar to the office lease sector of the real estate industry, facilitating collaborative work is driving design choices. But these considerations go beyond dedicating more square footage to conference rooms and eschewing the corner office. The solutions that fill spaces intended for collaboration are just as important as the location and size of the spaces themselves. That’s because teamwork today is different; new technologies, a 5-generation workforce, and the shift away from traditional 9-5 hours have all changed the ways we think, plan, and innovate.
Read on to learn how to design better spaces for the unique ways in which we work together, today.
Great workplace design considers not only the kind of work the environment must support, but who will be doing it. The workforce has expanded to include five generations, each with their own ideas about what effective collaboration means. Recently, Work Design Magazine invited one Gen Z-er to share her outlook, who notes that “Gen Z-ers work best in environments which encourage employees to own their uniqueness and embrace their individuality through company policies and opportunities to contribute value.” This individualistic outlook contrasts with that of team-oriented Millennials and routine-driven Baby Boomers. Consider designs like the Exponents Whiteboard & Mobile Display, which allows for real-time flexibility in how teamwork is conducted, or the Lagunitas Focus Nook, which provides a solo destination for younger workers in an open office layout.
The workplace is also more neurodiverse than ever, and while some employees may feel inspired by a sleek, modern aesthetic, others may feel more supported by a texture-rich workplace that promotes acoustic comfort. Solutions like contemporary rugs or living walls offer the best of both worlds by absorbing sound without sacrificing on design ingenuity, helping teammates with different perspectives and needs work together more effectively.
The rise of “resimercial” design has created many offices that are indistinguishable from living rooms or hotel lobbies. And while taking cues from the comforts of home can help combat burnout and promote comfort in the workplace, Work Design Magazine also notes that environments that are too similar to residences can have the opposite effect. If the workplace feels exactly like the home, users miss out on crucial environmental cues that help them to disconnect outside of business hours. Coalesse Director of Global Design John Hamilton highlighted the need for spaces that are comfortable and soft, yet designed specifically for work if the informal office is here to stay.
Fast Company reports that the majority of workers surveyed –across all ages– prefer workplaces that are less casual than you might expect. Collections like SW_1, which blends a low profile typical of residential designs with a decidedly task-oriented aesthetic, send the message that work can be comfortable while still being work. The trick is to incorporate enough residential influences to support relaxed thinking, but not so many as to erase the boundary between our personal and professional lives. As is so often the case, balance is crucial.
What employees desire most is an environment that provides what they need, when they need it. Today, that means access to technology, even and especially in collaborative settings. Seamless integration of technology from the conference rooms to office social hubs means that teamwork can happen efficiently whether at scheduled meeting times or spontaneously.
Although technology has reduced the amount of space our work takes up, it has also created new demand for collaborative environments in the workplace. Interiors & Sources asks designers to reconsider the goals of the open office, saying “the focus was on densification and getting people in, with the idea of collaboration, but it wasn’t the right balance of space.”
As Workplace Insights notes, the office can still be the best place for bringing employees together – even as remote working is on the rise. When creating new environments for collaboration, consider how those spaces might support collaborators working together from different offices or even countries!
Looking for more insights on how Collaboration has changed? Check out our blogs on designing for diversity, providing casual and formal settings for teamwork, and the relationship between technology and collaboration.
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