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Top 5 tips for creating a collaborative workspace

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

In a recent survey of 4,000 working adults, most satisfied employees rank “opportunities to work on a collaborative team” as the best way to boost their careers. 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. So what steps can companies take for creating a collaborative workspace that boosts collaboration, productivity and, ultimately, happiness?

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

The moment someone steps off the elevator, they should arrive at what Liz Burow, vice president of workplace strategy at WeWork calls a “center of gravity.” At WeWork, for example, they 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 playing. There’s a freshness and an energy that draws in workers —and their clients—and creates a collaborative, entrepreneurial vibe. Carry that through your 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—tucked away booths to closed-door offices — offering employees a healthy balance of “we” and “me” time.  Flexibility and choice are the goals.

2. The standard conference room is no longer the gold standard 

Dedicated meeting rooms are becoming a thing of the past, replaced by flexible spaces that do double or triple duty — a salesperson’s office flips into a meeting room when they’re on the road, while a pair of armchairs in an open, communal space takes the place of its four-walled predecessor. 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. And allow people to book meeting spaces easily. WeWork has an app to simplify the process for our increasingly mobile workforce.

3. Amenities are clutch…start with food and beverage

In the collaboration survey mentioned above, U.S. workers were asked what would make them more satisfied with their current job environment. The top responses highlighted workspace and amenities, outweighing other incentives and benefits, such as better pay, better hours, better management, and more vacation time. Free food and beverage is one such perk. The people at WeWork think a lot about the kinds of food and beverages that belong in the work environment, as it is a vital component, just as important as ergonomics and furnishings. A side benefit of providing food to your employees: you support small, local businesses that can bring their services into the office, ideally with a focus on healthy, locally-sourced snacks (but there is occasionally room for something fun and sugary too!). 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.

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

For WeWork designers, the brand is an integral element of each company location. They draw inspiration from nearly everywhere, focusing on creating a space that reflects the company’s mission and adds to making a productive, collaborative environment. The designs are contemporary and always changing due to the flexibility of the space. There’s geometry, pop culture, street art, nature, and even the neighborhood in which a building resides. It’s not just pictures of iconic structures or local celebrities, it’s also steeped in 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. Don’t fear music, it’s making your employees happy and productive 

Studies show that most people listen to music in the workplace. In a survey on music at work by Accountemps, 85 percent of participants said they prefer to listen to tunes at work rather than listen to nothing. What’s more, in a Spotify survey, 61% of respondents said they listen to music at work to boost their productivity and happiness. 90% perform better and 88% produce more accurate work when using music as a productivity tool.

Music has been a huge part of the WeWork experience from early on. In addition to being a creative outlet for many WeWork members, 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.