Traditionally, collaboration in business came in the form of meetings, with formal agendas and often consisted of one person leading the discussion, or presenting their own ideas and asking for feedback.
In the last couple of years, collaboration has become more social and informal, moving from a ‘me’ to a ‘we’ environment, and meetings tend to have less structure. The setting has become increasingly casual, with groups of employees choosing sofas and benches over boardroom tables. Innovation is more important than ever, so spaces that encourage creativity are in higher demand. This, along with employee expectations, is driving a wider variety of collaborative office design.
Studies about collaborative areas have found that participants requirements from these spaces are often to facilitate speedier decision making, foster innovation, improve productivity, improve communication and support business processes. Some of the most important behaviours that take place within them include brainstorming of ideas, ad-hoc interaction, supporting team members throughout projects, mentoring colleagues and learning from each other.
The areas usually include display technology such as interactive screens, white/chalk boards, lounge furnishings such as sofas and cushions and specialised soft lighting to produce a comfortable atmosphere. The most highly used spaces support social, small group interactions, and the most popular groups spaces offer the right technology, close proximity and offer a sense of privacy.
A good example of how collaborative spaces can be used is ‘scrum’ rooms. They are spaces that are dedicated to a specific core team of cross-functional experts to rapidly complete one project. These agile teams produce stronger and more high quality results in a third of the time, but require a meeting room for the duration of the space. Traditional meeting rooms don’t offer the resources and equipment to handle the needs of these groups, so many companies turn to collaborative spaces as an answer for colleagues to instantly engage and share knowledge in this dedicated space.
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