Jul 19, 2023
By Amy Tanzillo

Top 4 Design Trends for Collaborative Workspaces

When it comes to workplace design, collaborative spaces now reign supreme. The way we work has become increasingly collaborative, with workers spending less time at their individual desks and more time working together in spaces dedicated to teamwork, like conference and meeting rooms, as well as spaces adapted for groups like lounge areas, cafeterias, and unoccupied private offices.

The rise of hybrid working in recent years has only accelerated this trend: 75% of employees surveyed by the Future Forum say they are motivated to come to the workplace for collaboration, building camaraderie, and in-person meetings, yet office utilization rates in many large metro areas remain below pre-pandemic levels. That may signal that they do not have access to the right spaces, amenities, and tools to drive them back to the workplace.

How can organizations incentivize employees to come back to the office and at the same time, maximize their space portfolios? Planning and designing collaborative spaces that people want to be in is a great way to achieve both goals. Consider these 4 trends for planning standout collaborative workspaces:

1. Mixed Experience Spaces

Also known as community or multi-use space, a mixed experience space can be adapted for a wide variety of group activities from company celebrations to team onsite meetings. An exceptional mixed experience space will include modular elements such as moveable furniture and demountable walls that allow the physical space to adapt to a range of uses. It should also make accessible tools that support teamwork like markerboards, virtual meeting equipment, and access to power.

Finally, it’s important that a mixed experience space be managed through a reliable, easy-to-use reservation system. The ability to accommodate visitors and catering requests are an added bonus, opening these spaces for external and all- or multi-day events.

2. Inclusive Design

All workspaces should be planned using inclusive design principles—and this is especially true for collaborative spaces. Inclusive design aims to be usable for as many people as possible, including people of all abilities and backgrounds. A good approach is to factor in diverse perspectives from the outset. Consider how proposed changes to a workspace or the addition of new workplace technology might affect all your employees.

When planning neighborhoods, for example, add an employee survey to your research along with space verification surveys and space demand forecasts. Understanding employees’ day-to-day scenarios will help you identify everyone’s needs. The goal is to avoid the pitfalls of workplace planning of the past: loud open floorplans, poor maneuverability, and visual chaos that are especially detrimental for those with sensory challenges.

With fewer dedicated spaces per employee, it’s critical that shared spaces, from meeting areas to hoteling workstations not only accommodate, but welcome employees of varying abilities. Spaces designed for the most marginalized community members tend to be designed better for everyone, so find ways to engage all employees in the workplace design process!

3. Wellness at Work

The global pandemic placed a new emphasis on well-being in our daily lives, and wellness initiatives have firmly planted themselves as an essential component of good workplace culture. Collaborative and community spaces are great locations to host on-site wellness activities for employees such as group yoga and meditation sessions. Employees benefit not only from a chance to reset during their workday but will also have the opportunity to bond with their colleagues.

The design of collaborative spaces should also support a sense of balance. Ensure group spaces incorporate natural light and plants—they not only improve indoor air quality, but help people feel connected with nature.

Finally, there are few things as enjoyable at work as holding outdoor meetings. Encourage employees to utilize any outdoor areas in your portfolio as places for informal meetings. You can even make them reservable and track their utilization with reservation software!

Learn more about promoting employee well-being here.

4. Create Space for Innovation

We know that one of the foremost reasons employees choose to come to the workplace is to collaborate with their colleagues. It’s a hotly debated topic, but the sentiment that innovation happens when people come together in person remains. An innovation hub is a type of collaborative space where subject matter experts from the farthest reaches of the organization can come together to brainstorm, problem-solve, experiment, and ideate. Innovation hubs should be highly flexible and equipped with the latest and greatest technology, adaptable furniture and tools, and resources that support creativity.

This kind of collaborative space welcomes users to adapt the physical space to their specific needs. This may mean that space planners and administrators need to set clear parameters and processes around how the space is maintained between sessions, who can reserve the innovation space, and what types of services can be accommodated there—all considerations that can be managed by a robust space management and reservations system.

Clearly, one of the keys to designing great collaborative spaces today is flexibility. These spaces are the most desirable and most heavily utilized when the physical space can be adapted for a range of users and their needs.

These spaces are only truly great when people are using them. A robust space management system like Nuvolo Space can help you identify opportunities to plan collaborative workspaces, and Reservations makes them available for employees to utilize. Nuvolo’s configurable dashboards and powerful reporting capabilities allow you to track utilization and performance. Learn more about how space management software can support your workplace.