How to set up a successful collaborative space

In our previous article, we explained how to set the parameters for a successful collaboration.  In this article, we’ll be telling you about how to set up a successful collaborative space within your office environment.

Collaboration is often a noisy process and can be somewhat unstructured, especially if it’s a spontaneous meeting of the minds.

Spontaneous collaboration can lead to break through ideas, which is why many organizations are now designing their work environment with strategically placed hubs where people naturally encounter each other during the course of the day.

Whether collaboration is planned, or spontaneous, it’s important that those involved are free to express their ideas without fear of disturbing others, and without worrying about lack of privacy, especially when they’re in an open plan environment.

Because collaboration is such an important part of modern business practices, furniture manufacturers have come up with some ingenious solutions that offer open plan, semi-private and private options.  

These options range from casual hubs within the open plan space to semi-private booths, to private rooms.

Gather Collaborative Furniture

Open plan spontaneous hubs:  These can be as simple as strategically placed armchairs within the context of an open plan office.

Hubs are placed in areas where workers will naturally encounter each other during the course of the day.

Running into people you may not typically work with on a daily basis can lead to exchange of ideas and information which may not otherwise take place.

gbl_z_fringe_77Semi-private hubs:  These are typically freestanding ‘booths’ in which anywhere from two to six people may be able to meet in relative privacy.  Booths are usually upholstered bench-like furniture and may have high, insulated backs to create both a visual and a sound barrier.  A meeting conducted in a booth will allow participants to concentrate on the topic at hand without being distracted by the surrounding office buzz.  The booth will also have a dampening effect on the sound of their voices so their meeting doesn’t intrude on adjacent co-workers.

Booths are ideal for open plan offices that don’t have enough space to create private meeting rooms. They can double as temporary ‘quiet zones’ for those who need to find a quiet area to concentrate on a specific task.

allsteel beyond moveable wallsPrivate hubs: When privacy is important, a dedicated space that can be closed off from the main office area is the way to go.  As office footprints are reduced in an effort to use real estate more efficiently, old style private offices are disappearing.

With moveable architectural walls, it’s possible to enjoy the advantages of both a private and open plan environment.  The walls can be configured quickly and easily, carving out a meeting space without interfering with the flow of natural light.

The walls can be completely transparent, or a combination of transparent and opaque.  If a change to the size, shape or location of the private space needs to be made, the moveable walls can be reconfigured without any messy, expensive and time consuming structural building alterations.

Collaborative Technology:
Today, distance is no barrier to collaboration.  We have easy access to all kinds of technology that enables us to collaborate with almost anyone, almost anywhere, almost any time.  It makes sense to facilitate this technology in our private meeting areas and office furniture systems manufacturers facilitate everything from low tech through to high tech options beautifully.

Allsteel Sketch & GatherOn the low tech side, Allsteel has included a practical moveable white board “Sketch” with its Gather collection of collaborative furniture.

At NeoCon 2015 we saw ‘white board’ coffee tables where collaborators could share their ideas visually while sitting in a comfortable armchair.  In fact, these days, almost any surface can be turned into a brainstorm area including windows and walls!  Watson Writeable Table

On the higher tech side, manufactures are facilitating connectivity with clever cabling and wireless solutions built into the furniture systems freeing collaborators to concentrate on brainstorming rather than on the technology itself.

Clickshare is a perfect example.  It’s a handy collaborative aid which allows a collaborative group to share images or videos from their devices on a white board with the simple click of a button:

ClickShare is a unique product in that it’s built-in wireless from base unit to small AV streamer which you plug into your laptop/MacBook via USB port.  Start the small applet on the AV Streamer and you can now connect wirelessly to collaborate.
Works well with our view station and all around as well supplying collaboration in places where you don’t want to floor core.

EBeam is another exciting collaborative technology. It’s a small, affordable solution that captures white board creative sessions real-time.  It works well with ‘Sketch’ the moveable white board featured above, as well as with whiteboard wall paint and moveable architectural walls featuring metal white board panels.


If you’d like advise about how to set up collaborative areas that work in your office environment, please feel free to contact us.

More resources:;

Clickshare  and   eBeam