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The Right Furniture To Create A Collaborative Office Space

Whether it’s due to the emergence of the Millennials in the workforce, or simply a natural evolution toward more effective working, we’re seeing a shift.

Instead of highly competitive corporate cultures, with individuals driven by a desire to climb the proverbial ladder, employees are uniting, sharing both spaces and ideas while working toward the common goals of their organization.

As the workplace mentality transitions from a focus on ‘me’ to ‘us,’ the physical workspaces must adapt as well. Huge, private offices are traded for communal work environments that support everyone’s needs. As the walls come down, there’s more room for the collaborative approach to work that people both prefer and rely upon in order to achieve high levels of productivity and innovation.

While the concept of collaboration is relatively straightforward, the act itself isn’t quite so simple. There’s no single way to go about it; and with the range of personality types, businesses, and spaces available to join the two, it takes planning to set up an office that reinforces collaborative work.

A Steelcase publication explained it well: “As workers seek to rapidly build on each other’s ideas to create new forms of knowledge and innovation, the workspace can either significantly support or compromise their intentions and behaviors.”

A critical aspect of strategically designing a space to support the collaborative desires of workers is the furniture. Traditional furniture that is commonplace in most offices simply won’t get the job done. Instead, we’ve listed a few alternatives below.

Workstations

The wise, Bill Nye the Science Guy, once said, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” Which is probably why over 80 percent of white-collar workers rely on collaboration to successfully carry out their jobs.

The greatest ideas and innovations flow from the combined knowledge of a diverse group of people. In the workspace, furniture must help curate these interactions. Depending on the needs and goals of an organization, collaborative workstations will look differently, but will likely fall into one of these three categories:

1. Benching stations – Typical benching stations are an ideal solution for collaborative work. These low-profile pieces allow for simple reconfiguration, which works perfectly for project based and transient workers. In industries that find themselves constantly evolving and therefore prioritizing flexibility, benching may well be the solution.

2. Desking systems – Not surprisingly, based on the name, desking provides a bit more structure and storage than benching. That being said, desking systems still come with a high degree of flexibility. Although intended for collaboration, these systems can provide a greater level of privacy between workstations, when needed.

3. Panel systems – You may hear the word panel, and immediately jump to an image of a cubicle in your mind (and you wouldn’t be far off-base). However, paneled systems don’t have to be entirely closed off. These systems are designed to reduce noise and distractions while still keeping workers together in a collaborative setting.

Meeting spaces

Meetings are central to collaboration. Whether you’re looking to conduct a formal staff meeting, a high-stakes client meeting or a dynamic brainstorming session, the furniture should suit the situation.

Research conducted by Steelcase shows “that 70% of workers today say they waste up to 15 minutes just looking for a space to meet.” Talk about a major waste of time leading to a serious reduction in productivity. Since there will likely be a greater need for meeting spaces than what the square footage of an office allows, we recommend providing informal solutions to accommodate the impromptu or casual get togethers. These spaces don’t need to take up much room, and can often occur in already existing locations throughout the office (like the office lounge or a dining area).

Bringing it all together

Keep in mind, the challenge is in knowing what furniture is right for your team and the work you strive to do. Unfortunately, there’s not a perfect fit that works in every office. At CDI Spaces, we provide furniture solutions based on the specific needs of your organization. Please get in touch with us today so we can work on the right solution for you.

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