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Collaborative Workspaces: The Past, Present & Future

Stay ahead of the curve by understanding the shift toward collaborative workspaces and implementing agile working environments.

Jo-Ann Mann, Serraview

By Jo-Anne Mann

Modern workplaces are continuously evolving to keep up with the speed of technology and the changing needs of employees. Businesses that fail to meet these needs may find themselves losing workers to businesses that are keeping up with their expectations. By giving your people all the tools they need to perform at their best, you’re almost guaranteed to see a measurable ROI and future cost reductions. You’re also likely to improve employee retention while attracting new talent. 

The “open” office was once synonymous with collaboration. But we’re now realizing that it may be doing more harm than good. An agile work environment is proving to be the true key to a collaborative workspace because it gives employees the power to choose an open or solitary location to work. Here’s how you can stay ahead of the curve by implementing a truly collaborative, agile work environment.

Collaborative Workspaces: Past, Present, Future

In the last decade, rapid changes in technology have transformed how we live. With smartphones in hand and an abundance of IoT devices available, we’re now more connected than ever. This increased connectivity in our personal lives has prompted a similar transformation in our workplaces.

The Importance of Collaboration in the Workplace Today

Companies have put significant effort into breaking down organizational silos. And few would deny the fact that a more open, collaborative work environment leads to better outcomes than each employee or team working in isolation.

Workplace collaboration encourages personal connections, brings together diverse viewpoints, and promotes honesty and information sharing. That’s why collaboration is invaluable in the modern workplace—it serves as the crucible for new and innovative ideas.

The Rise of Collaborative Workspaces

With our increasing connectivity and desire for collaboration, the open office plan has become the dominant blueprint for workplace design. But to be successful, a collaborative workplace demands more than just an open office floor plan. The noise and busyness of fully open workspaces can actually discourage collaboration for some employees, who may feel the need to use headphones or other self-isolation strategies to get some work done. Agile work environments encourage collaboration by making it a choice, offering open spaces along with more private areas for focused work time.

Improving your company’s workspace not only promotes collaboration but can also improve employee engagement. Businesses are finding that employee satisfaction is strongly linked to a sense of control over one’s working environment. And most people need a balance between solitary deep work and collaborative group work to be productive.

Driving Productivity and Efficiency with Real-Time Data

With advances in sensor technology and machine learning, modern workspaces can also offer real-time data and predictive analytics to further increase workplace productivity. Real-time data tools allow companies to be more proactive and make the most of the space they have. For example, space management tools can help predict your space needs based on current and historical usage.

Ready to learn more about cultivating a modern workplace environment? Download our whitepaper, Making Space Utilization Work for Your Organization.

Understanding the Value of an Employee-Centric Strategy


Attract and Retain the Best Talent

As an enterprise, your people are your greatest asset. Making improvements and modernizing your workspace is like making an investment in your employees. When it comes to workspace design, an employee-centric strategy can increase your company’s ability to attract and retain a talented workforce. 

Promote Innovation

When you create an environment that attracts top talent and fosters collaboration, you’re also creating a hotbed for creative and innovative thinking.

Boost Productivity

An agile work environment empowers your employees by giving them a greater sense of control and satisfaction when it comes to their work. And it’s no surprise that happier employees are more engaged and more productive.

Right-Size Your Real Estate

An agile work environment that promotes collaboration is a win for employee satisfaction and company productivity. But it can have an even bigger impact on your bottom line. Doing away with dedicated workstations and moving toward an agile workplace saves you real estate costs by using space more efficiently.

What Will Make a Collaborative Workspace Successful?

According to Steelcase, “The key to successful workspaces is to empower individuals by giving them choices that allow control over their work environment.” This kind of workspace will demand change in both physical spacehow we design our workplacesand in culture.

The Need for an Agile Work Environment

So what does a modern work environment look like? The modern workspace is quickly moving past the old paradigm of open versus closed space. Instead, it’s about placing power back into the hands of your employees. The way Jan Johnson of Allsteel sees it, “People expect to have more autonomy and control. The workplace should be designed to support that.”

And how is this autonomy reflected in the physical space? The built environment will need to evolve from its current monolithic state to become an agile work environment that offers a diverse and flexible set of functional spaces.

These spaces should be available on demand depending on the needs of individual employees—whether they’re looking for a large conference room to hold a team meeting or a quiet corner to hunker down and draft an important presentation. In The Future of Work and Workplace, an insight report by Holtby Turner, Despina Katsikakis describes the ideal space in this way: “Like a stage-set, it will be reconfigured to respond to our individual functional and wellbeing demands.”
 

Joining the Movement Toward Modernization

How do you know when it’s time to transform? 

Has the way you work changed? Are your team members more mobile? Are you planning a big move in the future? These are all signs that it’s time to take your workspace planning to the next level.

Many companies are still hesitant to make the switch. But if you take the lead, you can use your space as a competitive advantage and strategic asset for your business.

Workspace Advice: Planning for Today and Tomorrow

Implementing a modern, collaborative workspace isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes internal champions, cultural changes within the company, and the help of modern workspace software solutions.

With technology continuing to advance, it’s hard to predict what the average office will look like 10 years from now. But with an agile work environment, you’ll be ready to respond no matter what the future brings.

Want to learn more about cultivating a modern workplace environment? Download our whitepaper, Making Space Utilization Work for Your Organization.

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