Five tips for creating a collaborative workspace

Fuel productivity and employee happiness with these easy-to-implement strategies

It’s human nature: People welcome the chance to work together. Most satisfied employees rank “opportunities to work on a collaborative team” as the best way to boost their careers, according to a 2018 survey of 4,000 working adults. The survey also revealed that more than half of all happy employees collaborate with five or more people at their office on any given day, and more than two-thirds collaborate with people outside their office at least once a week.

For companies, it’s worth investing time and energy in creating a collaborative workspace that boosts collaboration, productivity and, ultimately, happiness. Here are some proven steps that businesses of all sizes can take to make that thriving environment a reality.

1. Establish a collaborative vibe up front and carry it through the space 

The moment someone steps off the elevator, they should arrive at a “center of gravity,” explains Liz Burow, vice president of workplace strategy at WeWork. Visitors and members of WeWork, for example, will smell the coffee brewing as they enter an inviting and exciting communal space filled with comfy couches, loads of plants, an espresso bar, constant movement, and ambient music. There’s a freshness and an energy that draws in workers—and their clients—and creates a collaborative, entrepreneurial vibe.

It’s important to carry that vibe through common spaces: Mix it up with work areas ranging from a home-like living room to a high-topped table surrounded by stools, and even pillowed nooks for an informal chat. Movable furnishings are ideal because you can configure the space differently from day to day depending on your employees’ needs. Don’t forget to allocate adequate space for head-down focus—from tucked-away booths to closed-door offices. These options offer employees a healthy balance of “we” and “me” time. Throughout the space, flexibility and choice should always be the goals.

2. Think beyond the standard conference room  

Dedicated meeting rooms are becoming a thing of the past, replaced by flexible spaces that do double or triple duty—think of a salesperson’s office flipping into a meeting room when they’re on the road. Traditional large-group conference rooms are not well-suited to how we work today. According to Burow, the most common meeting size is just two to four people, so make sure there are lots of nooks for these small-group gatherings; consider a pair of armchairs in an open, communal space as a replacement for its four-walled predecessor. With all of this new creative use of space, it’s essential to allow people to book meeting spaces easily. WeWork has an app to simplify the process for an increasingly mobile workforce.

3. Pay attention to amenities—starting with food and beverage

In the same 2018 survey mentioned earlier, U.S. workers were asked what would make them more satisfied with their current job environment. Workspace and amenities outweighed other benefits like better pay, better hours, better management, and more vacation time.

The team at WeWork thinks a lot about the kinds of food and beverages that belong in the work environment, considering it a vital component as important as ergonomics and furnishings. And the kitchen itself—WeWork offices typically feature a central, open concept kitchen with a substantial island and stools—is a strategically placed “collision” space.  People can kick back, recharge, and chat informally here, which can be a catalyst for creative new ideas.

As you plan what foods and drinks to offer employees, there’s an opportunity to get involved in the community as well. Support small, local businesses that can bring their services into the office, ideally with a focus on healthy, locally sourced snacks (and a little room for fun and sugary options, too!).

4. Don’t leave your brand identity at the door

For WeWork designers, the brand is an integral element of each company location. They draw inspiration from it, creating a space that reflects the company’s mission. The designs are contemporary and always changing thanks to the flexibility of the space. There’s geometry, pop culture, street art, nature, and even the neighborhood in which a building resides. The space is steeped in the brand and the area’s culture.

You feel like you’re actually helping people love coming to work every day.

Jeremiah Britton, senior global art director, WeWork

5. Embrace music that makes your employees happy and productive 

Studies show that most people listen to music in the workplace. Eighty-five percent of participants said they prefer to listen to tunes at work rather than listen to nothing, in a survey on music at work by Accountemps. What’s more, 61 percent of respondents said they listen to music at work to boost their productivity and happiness, according to a Spotify survey. Ninety percent of people say they perform better, and 88 percent say they produce more accurate work when using music as a productivity tool.

Music has long been a huge part of the WeWork experience. The music WeWork plays in its locations sets the rhythm and energy and fuels the productivity of its global community. 

So let the music play, and contact us if you need private office space that comes standard with your brand identity, peak collaboration, and productivity in mind.

Interested in workspace? Get in touch.