No matter what, a collaborative workspace will always be useful for the growth of any business. To learn more about how to best create one now, read further on.
Flexible spaces, coworking spaces, and collaborative spaces were enjoying a meteoric rise before the onset of the pandemic. Is there a future for these workspace concepts during and after the coronavirus crisis? Are there ways to offset the risks of an office with a revolving crew? And do the benefits outweigh those risks?
In short, a collaborative workspace can and does still exist in a world with COVID-19. But just like any other workspace, collaborative workspaces need to be designed and organized with safety and hygiene measures in place that help protect employees and keep us safe, while benefiting from the agility, flexibility, improved creativity, and increased productivity of a collaborative workspace.
What is a Collaborative Workspace?
Collaborative workspaces are any kind of workspace hosting more than one company. They are usually structured so that each company has its own isolated and private space, but with a large common area where professionals can take breaks together, exchange experiences and information, and forge alliances.
Collaborative workspaces are often highlighted by their amenities as well, which are meant to provide reasons for professionals from different backgrounds to enjoy leisure activities together, or just take communal coffee breaks.
With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, social or shared spaces can continue to exist, but they need to continue to exist with safety in mind. This can mean outdoor common areas or balconies, better ventilation, greater spaces, more amenities that facilitate virtual collaboration and interaction (such as video game nights), and improved privacy between professionals and companies.
What are the Benefits to a Collaborative Workspace?
The advantages of a collaborative workspace include the financial freedom and flexibility afforded by a simplified short-term lease with a coworking space of flex space, the fact that collaborative workspaces are completely set up and require no additional investment to support a growing startup’s needed tech infrastructure, the access to prime locations that make commuting easier for employees while helping smaller companies gain access to the same spaces used by much larger potential partners in the industry, and much more. Some other benefits include:
- Easy to scale to the needs and size of a growing startup.
- Community-oriented management that helps integrate new companies and facilitate cooperation.
- Specialized private and common workspaces designed to improve productivity, maximize comfort, and inspire.
- Unique design choices and amenities to help companies find and reflect their own brand and culture on.
- A workspace style that strengthens the bonds between employees and their company.
Essential Tips to Creating a Collaborative Workspace for Your Business
There is more to creating (or finding) a collaborative workspace than simply opening your doors to multiple commercial tenants. Some of the crucial elements that help build a collaborative workspace are centered around the creativity gains realized through healthy social interaction, and productive networking. Here are a few strong tips to help you create the right environment for collaboration during the pandemic.
1. Build a Collaborative Culture
Collaborative workspaces live and die by the atmosphere they create, and the culture they represent.
Each workspace is made unique by the design and management choices of the coworking staff, and any would-be collaborative space needs to orient itself along the lines of a shared and consistent company culture, one that attracts companies with similar values and aesthetics.
The music choice, the color scheme, the art elements on the walls, the plants chosen for both the interiors and the balconies or garden, the choice in amenities, the aesthetic of the furnishings – each element represents a conscious choice to embody a style or provide potential tenants with a feel for what it’s like to work there.
2. Prioritize Safe Private Spaces
There can be no safe collaborative workspace without frequently sanitized private offices and meeting rooms.
While the common area is where the collaborative spirit resides, it’s in the adjacent rooms and floors that the concentrated work happens, and it’s here where companies need their own spaces to discuss projects internally, securely share files and documentation, and safeguard both themselves and their data from other tenants in the building.
3. Leverage Collaborative Technologies
Collaborative spaces benefitted from the ability to communicate over-the-shoulder, but with the pandemic, some of the old habits will have to continue to be met with safer alternatives, such as sharing files and information through the cloud, organizing collaborative chat groups between cooperating professionals through Slack, keeping track of private company progress through programs like Trello, and so on.
4. Amenities are Important
Perhaps the most important element to enticing social interaction after months of lockdowns and tight quarantines is a large selection of amenities and safe social activities, from a spectrum of snacks and beverages to outdoor exercise installations, communal gardens, nap rooms, and the staff to facilitate and manage said amenities.
Collaboration During the Pandemic
The defining features of a safe collaborative space during the pandemic is one that provides a large common area and plenty of amenities and spaced seats, while still prioritizing separate, well-ventilated spaces for small groups to work together.
The open office took a large hit with the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that the collaborative workspace model is no longer here to stay. The benefits of collaborative work for a company’s productivity and individual creativity cannot be overstated, and the cons of the open office as a vector for viral transmission can be addressed by preventing overcrowding, implementing frequent cleaning, open ventilation, and strict social distancing and frequent testing at work.
Even as thousands of Americans and millions of global citizens receive their vaccines with every passing day, we aren’t quite in the final sprint of this crisis.
As we continue to observe strict rules to stop and impede the transmission of the virus, we also need to embrace the benefits of in-person collaboration as a force for innovation, and a critical component to attracting and onboarding new talent.
Large spaces, safe distances, and adjunct meeting/planning rooms with frequent cleaning crews and open ventilation are just a few measures through which coworking spaces can continue to offer businesses the ability to benefit from the pros of having a creative commercial space of their own, without the costs and responsibilities.