Office Design

Balancing Collaboration and Desk Space: The 27% Challenge

Ali Stewart
May 1st, 2024

The modern workplace is in flux, demanding increased collaboration among teams and dedicated spaces for focused individual work. Finding the right balance between offering collaborative office space ideas and ensuring employees have a quiet place to focus is crucial.  Yet getting this right seems elusive, as evidenced by the fact that an alarming 73% of business owners and operational leaders feel they need a better balance between collaboration spaces and individual workspaces.

This can be unsettling for leaders, as teams everywhere are fully entering their return-to-office initiatives. The bar has been raised for what employees expect an office to provide. Striking the correct balance between collaboration spaces and dedicated workspaces is necessary now more than ever.

In this blog, we’ll discuss why collaboration spaces and dedicated workspaces offer companies unique value, and how to feel confident in your blend of the two. We’ll discuss modern office policies such as activity-based and remote work, and how they can promote improved collaboration between teams. We’ll then touch on the importance of technology in the workplace, and how businesses like OfficeSpace are making it easier than ever for team leaders to optimize their office space.

Collaboration space: 4 crucial elements of a hybrid office

Upgrade your hybrid workspace for better collaboration, productivity, and innovation.

The Importance of Collaboration & Dedicated Workspaces

Since the pandemic, the rise of collaboration spaces has been exponential. Those who were cooped up at home during the lockdown are now relishing the fact they get to be a part of a team again. It’s given the workforce a new appreciation for things once viewed as obligations, such as team meetings or bonding with coworkers.

But we still can’t disregard dedicated individual desk space. Despite this newfound craving for human connection, there is still a subset of people who prefer to work on their own. Certain people would rather wear headphones, silence all irrelevant electronic devices, and grind away their assignments. This is part of why we see such an influx of remote employees.

Both of these setups can improve the employee experience in their own way, it’s about tuning into what your team members desire. This will allow you to find the delicate balance of collaboration spaces and quiet spaces that your office needs. We’ll go into a little more detail about the benefits of these concepts.

Collaboration Workspaces

Collaboration spaces are the cornerstone of the modern office, providing a dynamic environment where ideas flow freely, and teamwork becomes second nature. These spaces provide a platform for employees to connect, brainstorm, and tackle complex problems together. They break down the barriers of traditional cubicles, promoting cross-departmental communication and sparking innovation. Modern offices empower teams to choose the setting best suits their needs by providing formal and informal collaborative areas. This increases productivity, morale, and sense of belonging.

Dedicated Workspaces

Dedicated individual workspaces offer a sanctuary for deep focus and uninterrupted productivity. These spaces give employees the autonomy to concentrate on complex tasks and produce their best work without the potential distractions of a purely open-concept environment. Sometimes effective collaboration can only occur after one has invested significant time into individual planning and research. Dedicated workspaces can be a dream for office workers who value alone time.

Why You Should Have Both Spaces In Your Work Environment

The most successful companies have an office that offers both types of workspaces. Human beings are all different and like to get work done differently. Instead of forcing all your employees into a rigid office setup with no flexibility, let them decide how they want to work. This balanced approach increases efficiency and demonstrates an understanding that diverse working styles require diverse solutions. These are the types of things that improve company culture, team-building, and employee satisfaction.

collaborative spaces

How Has Team Collaboration Changed Since the Pandemic?

It’s no secret the pandemic impacted how we go about doing business. Operational leaders are scrambling to determine the most efficient way to utilize their office space. Is adopting a hybrid work model the correct move? Is it time to bring everyone back into the workplace? Should you invest in coworking spaces or innovation hubs? These are all questions being asked by decision-makers.

Researchers in 2023 found a mere 34% of surveyed business owners admitted they felt they had the right amount of office space – and only 27% of respondents reported they have the right mix between collaboration and desk spaces. It is becoming increasingly clear that organizational leaders need assistance setting up their work models.

This uncertainty has severely impacted teams’ ability to collaborate effectively. After all, it’s hard to establish a baseline level of collaboration when you’re unsure where and how your employees will work.

Challenges of Teamwork in a Hybrid Work Model

The hybrid work model, while offering flexibility, presents a unique set of hurdles for collaboration. Team leaders must determine how to interweave their in-person and remote workers in a way that’s fair for everyone. Failing to do so can lead to disconnection between teams and employee resentment. Here are some critical challenges of achieving collaboration in a hybrid world.

  • Reduced informal interactions: Sometimes the most incredible ideas form from spontaneous brainstorming sessions between teams. This is almost entirely removed in a hybrid work setting, as half of your employees may not even be in the office. The solution is intentionally planning these brainstorming sessions to get good results, which is the opposite of “spontaneity.”
  • Unequal experiences: Ensuring everyone feels included and has equal opportunities to contribute can be a struggle with a mix of in-office and remote team members. It’s common for remote workers to feel isolated or left out. Conversely, full-time in-office workers may resent those working from home.
  • Digital fatigue: An overreliance on Zoom video calls or Slack messaging can contribute to burnout and make collaboration feel draining rather than inspiring. Sometimes there is no replacement for face-to-face interactions, despite how far technology advances.

What is Activity-Based Working?

Activity-based working (ABW) is a workspace model that rejects the traditional one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it offers employees a variety of workspaces designed for specific activities. This flexibility empowers employees to choose the environment that best suits their current task, enhancing productivity and job satisfaction. In conjunction with workplace analytics technology, this office model allows companies to optimize their office space for the dynamic needs of a distributed workforce, ensuring that employees always have the right setting, whether in the office or working remotely.

The Importance of Flexible Work Environments and Remote Work

Though adopting a hybrid work model can make it harder to implement collaboration tools, the importance of working in a flexible environment cannot be overstated. These concepts are here to stay, so it’s better to prepare for a hybrid future than to try rejecting it by sticking to your traditional office. These are benefits you’ll notice from implementing these models:

  • Attracting and retaining talent: Flexibility is now a top priority for job seekers. Businesses offering remote or hybrid work have a significant advantage in the competitive talent market and will likely see an increase in employee retention.
  • Enhanced work-life balance: Employees with control over their schedules experience reduced stress, increased job satisfaction, and a greater sense of well-being. This sense of empowerment translates to lower turnover and a more committed workforce.
  • Innovation through inclusion: Remote work allows you to tap into a wider talent pool, regardless of time zones. Building diverse teams with varied perspectives leads to stronger problem-solving and innovation.
  • Cost savings: Reduced office space requirements can result in significant cost savings for businesses. Workplace analytics technology like that offered by OfficeSpace can give you a clearer picture of how your office space is being used, allowing you to determine potential cost-saving avenues.

Why Creating a Collaborative Work Culture Is Important

In today’s dynamic business environment, collaboration isn’t a perk; it’s a necessity. When employees from diverse backgrounds and skill sets come together, they create a synergy that fuels innovation and problem-solving. Collaborative teams can tackle complex challenges from multiple angles, leading to more effective solutions. Shared successes achieved through teamwork boost morale and create a more engaged workforce. A collaborative work environment empowers employees to learn from each other, share knowledge, and push each other to achieve their full potential, propelling the entire business forward.

How Technology Can Facilitate Collaboration & Desk Space

We’ve discussed how hybrid work models are becoming standardized across all professional industries. We’ve also discussed the importance of creating a collaborative environment in your workplace. Now the question becomes, how do you marry the two concepts most effectively?

This is where workplace analytics and space optimization technology shine. With advancements in real-time data tracking, organizational leaders can now receive a granular look at how their office is being used and what tools their staff utilize regularly.

Workplace analytics source data from various sources including employee surveys, room booking software, Wifi history, badge data, sensors, electricity usage, and any other data point that reflects how your office space is utilized.

Business owners and operational leaders no longer need to guess how to construct their office space. With workplace analytics technology integrated into your hybrid office, you can receive a data-backed overview of what’s working well and what isn’t.

Space Optimization From OfficeSpace Software

OfficeSpace Software understands the delicate balance between open office collaboration and ensuring dedicated workspaces. Our suite of tools helps optimize office layouts and maximize collaboration opportunities.

Use real-time data on space utilization to create a layout with the perfect mix of collaboration hubs, quiet zones, and individual workspaces. Employee activity monitoring allows you to understand how your team uses the space so that you can tailor it to their needs. Furthermore, our software tracks office usage, helping you identify underutilized areas for reconfiguration. 

By providing these insights, OfficeSpace Software equips you to create a dynamic work environment that fuels collaboration while empowering focused work, ultimately boosting overall team effectiveness.