Designing your office – how to make a corporate space communal and collaborative
Office layout is often not the most pressing concern for businesses of any size, especially with the remarkable short-term difficulties facing many in this period of economic upheaval. But office dynamics can have some hidden consequences for a number of influential factors, from productivity to employee retention and beyond.
We have already seen the widespread adoption of remote and hybrid working, as employees saw the merits of productive working away from the desk and without the commute. But for some offices, a return to in-office work is necessary. How can they make the most of office planning ideas to make their office space an inviting, comfortable and collaborative place to work?
One of the simplest ways to boost collaboration and inter-communication in any given office environment is to create spaces expressly for the purpose of collaboration. You might have a spare conference room that is only used for quarterly meetings, if that; this is an excellent candidate for upgrading into a collaboration pod of sorts.
By kitting out a meeting space with some of the trappings of a break room, as well as audiovisual technologies in the form of screens and speakers, you can create a bountiful environment for conversation and co-working. Whether employees simply want a break from their desk, or they want to workshop an idea together, the space exists for them to use as they see fit.
This philosophy can be extended to any outdoor spaces you might have around or even above your office. Installing meaningfully useful and comfortable external spaces can encourage employees to think in a more modular way about the structure of their day, and to expand their thinking while getting some fresh air in the process.
You could achieve this by using paving stones to create a communal ‘island’ on any grassland outside your office, which you could then kit out with a pergola and seating for a comfortable all-weather space. Taking things a step further, you could build a pod with comfortable seating and power, from which workers to work together with a literal new perspective on their work.
Communal office spaces are typically defined by the arrangement of desks in the main office space. Cubicles and partitions rule the roost in conventional working spaces, acting as their own individual pods that segregate workers and teams from one another. Meanwhile, more open-plan office designs do away with the partitions and open up the space between individuals and teams alike.
Doing this alone can have mixed results in a diverse office. Some like the opportunity to be left to their own devices, and sometimes teams can suffer from crosstalk between employees. However, by taking a modular approach to room design and desk placement, you can leave lots of room for tweaking and changes.