How to Classify Your Collaborative Spaces

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Effective collaboration enables greater efficiency, and it’s no longer a bonus. A recent HBR survey of over 300 US executives found that a new class of collaboration tools is required, not preferred, to facilitate the pace of today’s digital teams. Knowledge work is both cognitive and social, requiring people to internalize information and create an output. Effective collaborators make their thoughts accessible to others via speech, writing and graphic visualization.The dynamic nature of teams and work, with flatter and more remote structures than ever before, also requires updated versions of collaborative spaces. The study further states that most executives feel tools to simplify and consolidate teams’ resource array will be the most valuable.

Collaborative Spaces

Collaborative Spaces

“Most of the significant inventions of the last two centuries have not come from flashes of inspiration, but from communal, multi-layered endeavour. Innovation springs out of the “adjacent possible” – the most inventive places are hives of activity where people get together and share ideas.’
– Steven Johnson

So, the onus is on organizations to facilitate collaboration in all the ways it can occur. In this post, we’re first going to examine five facets driving disruption in how collaboration has traditionally occurred. Then, we’re going to outline three ways to classify your collaboration space on a spectrum. This way, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about cultivating collaboration environments in your own workplace.


5 Factors Changing Contemporary Collaboration

  • Shifting Demographics: five distinct generations are represented in today’s workplace, and collaborative workplaces will have to offer flexible resources that include those generations’ participation.
  • Sustainability: in a climate of corporate responsibility, tools that enable productivity and participation while mobile or remote will be seen as a necessity to cut down on the environmental impact of co-located collaboration.
  • Real Estate Strategy: rising real estate costs and sporadic occupancy rates add to the impetus for organizations to make more sustainable, strategic decisions with their workspace. Allocating dedicated spaces for different tasks, as opposed to cost-cutting densification, is becoming a more common plan of action for organizations interested in accommodating their human resources.

Changing Work Environments

Changing Work Environments

“Consciously or not, we feel and internalize what the space tells us about how to work. When you walk into most offices, the space tells you that it’s meant for a group of people to work alone. Closed-off desks sprout off of lonely hallways, and in a few obligatory conference rooms a huge table ensures that people are safely separated from one another.”
– David Kelley

  • Intra- to Inter-Company: Collaboration among a network of customers, suppliers and partners is necessary to optimize added value. Therefore, collaborative tools must evolve to meet this inter-company need.
  • Momentous to Continuous: Traditionally, collaboration occurs momentously, starting and ending at defined times on a defined day. The rising prevalence of collaboration as an ongoing process necessitates the ability to mirror physical and virtual collaborative spaces. Thus, effective collaboration entails the ability to store interactions and ideas that are accessible by contributors for use during more momentous collaboration.

Disruptors

Disruptors

“If an idea becomes a piece of private property, it is likely to grow stale and brittle over time. If it migrates throughout an organization, undergoing continual permutations, combinations, and mutations, it is likely to flourish.”
– Tim Brown

Classifying Collaborative Spaces on Spectrum

Formality vs. Creativity:

In the continuous cycle of collaboration, identifying different types of interactions provides varied solutions with adequate support. These touchpoints can be classified on a spectrum of formality and creativity. Increasing formality entails greater planning ahead, preparation of materials and defined objectives. The creativity spectrum measures by the level of information disseminated versus ideas produced.

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Intensity vs. Technology:

Designing dedicated spaces for these different collaborative touchpoints must start with distinct goals in mind. To assist in categorizing those workspaces, measure the necessary intensity and technology within each space. The intensity of collaborative spaces refers mostly to the duration. A team room for a year-long project represents the lower end of the spectrum, while a dedicated space for short-term bursts of structured interaction represents the higher end. The level of technology required to facilitate each workspace will rise in correlation with necessary contributors, remote and visual tools.

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Hands-On vs. Contributors:

Traditionally, we have facilitated collaboration with preparation. We’ve prepared reports, slide decks and other offline materials to help express information and generate ideas. While this manner of knowledge sharing still has value, it doesn’t keep pace with business. Expanding the ability of collaborators to make “live” contributions increases efficiency, but only when multiple sources need to provide updates in real time. So, the final spectrum to classify collaboration spaces measures the degree of hands-on against the number of contributors. The hands-on spectrum quantifies the level of participation (one-way communication versus contribution), while the contributors spectrum measures information’s number of recipients.

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Thanks for Reading! Let’s Recap:

  • Collaborative spaces shape the behavior of their occupants.
  • Accessible technologies for collaboration enable inclusive participation.
  • Systems for managing changing behaviors are essential to success.
  • Insights from people’s behaviors and use of tools can provide an accurate picture of how, where and when people collaborate.

All these components of learning environments contribute to the effectiveness of that space and, consequently, the organization. Therefore, by cultivating effective collaborative spaces, organizations can accelerate the pace of productivity. Want to explore options for your own workplace? You can tell us about your project here, or click the button below to research options for flexible workspaces from Office Furniture Warehouse. Thanks again!

Accelerating Collaboration's Cadence

Accelerating Collaboration's Cadence

“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I’. And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I’ – they don’t think ‘I’. [Leaders] think ‘we’ – they think ‘team’. They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”
– Peter Drucker

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