Jul 24th 2018

How to Plan a Collaborative Space in Your Office

John Stein

Over the past two decades, many businesses have embraced the idea of an open office, and with good reason. Open office environments promote collaboration, idea sharing and are the perfect backdrop for expanding brand identity though unique and interesting interior design.

However, those same businesses have discovered employees can be uncomfortable and unproductive with the lack of privacy in open environments. Open offices are rife with acoustic issues that prevent employees from focusing on their work.

The good news is there are ways to design an open office concept that reduces problematic acoustics and establishes areas for collaboration. Let’s examine just what makes an open office successful, and how instituting smart acoustic strategies can elevate your business to one that is collaborative, healthy and inviting.

Elements of a Good Collaborative Space

The idea of an open office might sound easy to pull off, but there are intricacies to designing a space that looks stylish, performs well and funnels businesses into a more productive day. Let’s examine a few of those nuances.

Adaptable and Functional

An open office gives you the opportunity and flexibility to change over time. As the personnel, functionality and special needs of a business change over time, having the ability to quickly adapt with movable furniture or partition walls makes a difference.

By nature, an open office lends itself to change. It gives you an opportunity to use design elements that can shift, swing or rotate depending on necessity. They also represent an opportunity to modulate the office, create focused spaces as well as attractive focal points of visual intrigue.

The Right Amount of Privacy

Great open offices help people work together, but the best ones offer areas of privacy where people can take their work and cut themselves off from the hustle and bustle of the main space. These areas are vital for giving people just enough privacy that they can put their heads down and be as productive as possible.

Pictured below: EchoPanel Wrap Partition

Good Acoustics

When left unaddressed, the quality of acoustics within an open office can be extremely distracting. A successful open office not only approaches acoustics from a macro perspective, but gives employees opportunities to reduce distractions. Providing teams a separate acoustic area where they can meet in confidence or hold client meetings is essential for increased productivity and collaboration.

Solutions and Strategies for Collaboration

An open office is a vast, sometimes unruly foundation on which to build your business. The key is to cultivate collaboration without stifling productivity. Utilize these solutions and strategies to cultivate an environment that harnesses both.

Flexible, Modular Design Elements

As projects come and go, teams of people will be assembled, moved around and disassembled countless times through the years. Having a flexible office space is key to making sure these ever-changing teams have exactly what they need.

Modular furniture, such as partitions, are flexible elements that not only look sleek, but are designed to organize space in a number of configurations.

Pictured below: EchoPanel Paling

Acoustic Products and Materials

One of the best ways to control a collaborative environment is to invest in an acoustic strategy that effectively manages excess noise. Using products such as ceiling baffles, wall panels, dropped overhead tiles and movable screens all contribute to a holistic approach that softens sound transmission and eliminates distractions.

Before implementing some of these products, be sure to organize a strategy that isolates areas within the open office where privacy is most valued. This way you are investing your effort only where necessary to support collaboration on a larger scale.

Case Study: Ultimate Software

Ultimate Software’s corporate office renovation is a great example of cultivating collaboration and good acoustics within an open office.

They started with custom cut Simple Baffles from Kirei to reduce the overall transmission of sound throughout the open space. These elements were incorporated to become integral to both the functionality of the office as well as its visual identity.

Pictured below: Simple Baffle

The office also carved out a number of private desk spaces utilized by employees who want to break free of the open, collaborative environment. These private spaces are essential for making sure employees get the privacy they need.

Happy = Productive

Ultimately, creating an organized strategy for collaboration is all about making your employees happy. When employees enjoy their environment, they do their best work. All of the strategies discussed in this article act to funnel an effort towards creating a fun, vibrant and pleasant work environment where people can thrive.

Build a space people want to be in, and you’ll be rewarded with everyone’s best effort to succeed. And once you create a productive open environment, you can concentrate on creating productive conference rooms.

Featured Kirei products in this article:

The Ultimate Guide to Office Acoustics

Comprehensive solutions for common acoustic challenges in modern offices.

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