It didn’t take a show like Severance to make most of the modern workforce realize that grey, drab, and soulless office spaces have to become a thing of the past. With 55% of the global workforce willing to switch employers depending on their physical work environment, it’s time to talk about collaborative workspace design.
Every employer knows about the importance of corporate culture to systematic success. Happier and more integrated employees are more engaged and productive and stay with their employer longer. While variables like management styles and organizational infrastructure play a role in building that culture, nurturing and soulful working environments are just as important.
Put differently: if you want to achieve your business goals, you need to prioritize your office culture. That means thinking beyond a company-owned space in which your employees are expected to work at all times. In today’s changing work atmosphere, businesses are increasingly choosing coworking spaces to meet the challenge.
Coworking spaces, especially thanks to their emphasis on collaborative workspace design, provide a more flexible alternative that might just prove to be the key to employee engagement and success.
The Basics of Collaborative Workspace Design
What if you or your team could work in a space that would allow effective collaboration to solve problems? What if the physical design of the office, instead of being uninspiring and stifling, would inspire teamwork and a closer working relationship between everyone involved? And what if it could be flexible enough to not require constant occupancy to justify the long-term commitment and investment in the space?
Those are the basic tenets behind collaborative workspace design. At its core, and as its name suggests, the concept is deceptively simple: it’s the design of a physical working environment specifically designed to enhance collaboration and, as a result, improve creativity.
This is also the niche in which coworking spaces have found themselves as organizations and remote workers alike look for greater flexibility in how their teams work together. It’s a shift in designing the workplace that has real-life consequences.
When Capital One surveyed its 3,500-strong workforce on the physical environment they’d most prefer, the insights were telling:
- 87% of respondents said employers should offer spaces that support mental health and well-being.
- 65% prefer more flexible work environments, saying their productivity increased when able to change their physical working location throughout the day.
- Perhaps most importantly, 77% said their performance improved when their workplaces provided spaces for collaboration.
In other words, it’s not just about the aesthetics of the physical space around them (although that certainly plays a role in their happiness as well). It’s about creating an adaptive, nurturing environment that fosters their skills and vision in a way most productive to every employee—as well as larger teams.
How the Remote Work Trend Has Inspired the Need for Workplace Reinvention
It’s tempting to think of intentional workspace design as a benefit that might improve your employer brand. But the reality goes deeper than that. In the post-COVID working environment, it has become an essential part of attracting and retaining employees.
Around the world, more than 80% of workers now prefer hybrid work. When members of the U.S. workforce have the chance to work at least partially remotely, nearly 90% take it. In response to these changing expectations, the number of remote jobs available has tripled since early 2020 to about 15% of all available jobs in the U.S.
Against that background, employers who still need their teams to come into the office or work together face a choice: continue to offer the same cubicles that so many workers are consciously moving away from and risk losing the best talent to more desirable opportunities, or embrace working spaces so good and so flexible that employees feel well taken care of and want to take advantage of them.
When framed like that, the choice is easy. And that’s exactly why, as McKinsey puts it, we’ve seen a rebirth of workspace design, building office spaces so inspiring, inclusive, and adaptable that they’re more attractive than working from home. It’s also why coworking spaces, which provide the ability for teams to come together physically only as needed and when beneficial, continues to rise in popularity.
Connecting Collaborative Workspace Design With Organizational Culture
Of course, the benefits of collaborative workspace design go far beyond simply attracting employees. The right spaces can have a major impact on building an inclusive, welcoming, and productive culture within and among all of your teams.
Consider, for example, the flexibility that modern employees strive for. That flexibility extends from being able to keep a more fluid schedule to becoming more fluid in the physical working environment. This flexibility, in turn, creates trust and loyalty, thanks to a recognition that the environment can adjust based on individual needs. In fact, one survey found that 79% of employees are more loyal to employers who offer them a more flexible working environment.
At the same time, the ability to share collaborative spaces creates a sense of teamwork and togetherness that working entirely remotely cannot quite replicate. Research has found that the ability to collaborate seamlessly creates more productive and innovative working environments, which the right physical space can generate.
5 Elements of Workspace Design that Inspire Collaboration and Creativity
Today’s coworking spaces are embracing office workspace design in ways that meet the needs of today’s workers. Whether freelancer, startup, or long-established business, the best coworking spaces offer inspiring, adaptive solutions that motivate focus, productivity, networking, and more—with all the resources needed to get real work done.
While understanding the reasons behind the right office workspace design is undoubtedly crucial, understanding its nuances matters just as much in order to create or choose a physical space that will attract and retain employees while nourishing a strong culture. These 5 elements of workspace design can help you get there.
1. A Warm and Casual Environment that Feels Like Home
Fully remote work has significant benefits, but don’t ignore its challenges. When working only in your own space, it’s easy to get lonely or feel isolated from the rest of the team. Coworking spaces, when built with the right workspace design in mind, provide the best of both worlds: the benefit of working on your own without the complete sense of isolation that fully remote work can bring. At the same time, workers can get a sense of feeling welcome and just as comfortable as they would in their own homes.
Warm lighting, comfortable seating, and a comfortable color palette can all play into generating this feeling. Look for spaces designed for comfort, where the positive atmosphere meets you at the door.
2. Open Spaces to Collaborate
Naturally, collaborative workspace design has to prioritize open spaces for collaboration. In lieu of cubicles and walls, that means creating larger rooms with flexible seating arrangements, conference rooms for team discussions, and more.
Of course, simply ripping down some walls in the traditional office space is not enough. Research published in the Harvard Business Review found that the benefits of an open office can only become reality if the space aligns with employees’ self-image and makes them feel like they belong within the larger environment and with other people working in the same space.
3. Private Spaces to Work Individually As Needed
It’s tempting to look at collaborative workspace design as one end of an extreme. But in reality, the open spaces described above can only be half of the equation. The other half: private and individual spaces into which any member of the team can withdraw as needed to focus on individual work that just needs to get done.
These private spaces should not be completely removed from the above-mentioned open spaces, but at least some separation should exist. In a coworking space, that might mean renting scalable private offices where members of the team can put their heads down and put on their focus mode anytime they need to. It might mean offering private phone booths where workers can go to make their work calls. Built in private spaces make all kinds of work possible throughout the day, simply and efficiently.
4. Non-Work Common Areas and Benefits for All Occupants
Much has been made in the past two decades of creating areas in workspaces that aren’t actually about work. Perhaps the most famous example is Google, with its beanbag chairs, ping pong tables, and slides instead of stairwells.
It’s true that some organizations have gone overboard in their efforts to create a fun working environment. But peel back the layers, and the underlying truth remains: a working environment cannot just be about work.
You need spaces for your teams to rest, recharge, have a coffee, and maybe even meditate before going into the next meeting or back into focus mode. A kitchen with refreshments and outdoor working spaces when the weather allows can go a long way to building that centered sense of focus.
These secondary benefits may not seem as important as the workspace itself, but their role in creating an inspiring and inclusive environment cannot be overstated.
5. Vibrant Spaces Teeming With Life
The final element is also the most intangible. The more vibrant your workspace feels to your teams, the better. Environments bursting with life draw more people to them, creating a network effect that only boosts itself over time.
In a coworking space, those connections are not limited to your own organization. Professionals from different organizations and industries can work alongside each other toward their own goals but are also able to brainstorm and socialize without going out of their way to meet up or lose focus on their own work.
How the Right Office Workspace Design Can Inspire Your Team to Greatness
In an increasingly remote culture, finding spaces to collaborate outside the home becomes essential. To meet and exceed today’s working expectations, that space needs to feel like home while also providing the full benefits and resources of workspaces for real-time collaboration.
When done right, collaborative workspace design and, more specifically, the carefully created coworking space, is the modern solution to the changing needs of much of the workforce.
In Austin, that might mean working with Vuka. Our two adaptive coworking locations are designed to help anyone from entrepreneurs to small business leaders wake up to their fullest potential through a nurturing and supportive office space. Get started by booking a tour of our spaces today and see how we can inspire your work.