Making the Workplace More Collaborative — and More Individual

by Chris Rhatigan on Aug 2, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Collaborative culture

In our report Employee Recognition Report, we found that a major factor of a thriving organizational culture is the use of collaborative spaces. Employees who are able to collaborate with their colleagues in productive ways are more satisfied with their jobs. And with millennials becoming the leading group in the workplace, the trend toward collaboration will continue.

However, employees also need space to complete individual work. The trend toward open offices has left some employees feeling overwhelmed. Harvard Business Review reported that the number of people who say they can’t concentrate on work at their desk is up by 16% since 2008.

Striking a balance between the two is necessary to maintaining a functional workplace. Sometimes employees need to be gathered at a whiteboard exchanging ideas, and sometimes they need to be at their computers working out solutions to tough problems. Here are some ways companies are pursuing workplace design to maintain both individual and collaborative work.

01. Meeting tables

Scattering meeting tables around the office is one ideal way to encourage employees to collaborate. Having open meeting tables takes out the formal aspect of meetings, instead allowing employees to come together as needed. Rather than holding a quick meeting at a cramped space, like someone’s desk, employees can get together in a comfortable fashion.  


02. Shielded spaces

Semi-enclosed spaces are a quick, inexpensive way to provide solitude for employees who do better in low-stimulus environments or who just need a break from the bustle of the office. By putting up portable screens or other barriers, you communicate to employees that this is a place to get individual work done.



03. Meeting rooms

Typically meeting rooms serve a variety of functions. Whether used for meetings involving the whole team to office parties, they’re useful for fostering collaboration.




04. Enclosed rooms

When people think of enclosed rooms in the workplace, they imagine Mad Men–style offices for those at the top of the food chain. But some companies are moving toward needs-based enclosed rooms rather than hierarchy-based ones. This provides visual and auditory privacy for employees who need to hunker down and get things done.



05. Break rooms

Casual collisions are useful for encouraging collaboration. By providing food, coffee, and a place to casually gather, you’re encouraging employees to be creative. While they’ll certainly talk about the most-recent episode of Game of Thrones, it’s also likely that they’ll talk about work. Break rooms can be a place where fresh ideas are born. Google believes in this idea so much that they’ve made their elevators a tad slow to get employees to converse with one another.



The workplace of the past was based on individual work in cubicles. The workplace of the present is the collaborative open office. But now workplace design is moving toward taking the best of both worlds. TINYpulse



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This post was written by Chris Rhatigan

Chris Rhatigan is a freelance writer and editor. He is a former newspaper reporter for The New Haven Register and The Iowa City Press-Citizen. He enjoys playing old video games, studying (and trying to speak) Hindi, and walking his dog on the local trails. He lives in India.