When done right, collaborative workspaces can boost productivity, improve communication, foster innovation and creativity, speed up decision-making, and support business processes. 

If you are in a collaborative space or thinking of how best to set one up, here are some helpful tips and tricks for making it work. 


There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Plunk everyone down at one long table in a big room, and you have a high-school cafeteria—not exactly what comes to mind when you think of innovation and collaboration.

A better solution is to create various spaces for specific types of interaction—a nice mix between “me time” and “we time.” For example, workspaces with clusters of different kinds of furniture — think standing desks, easily movable laptop tables and larger collaborative desktops — mean employees can choose the right space according to their needs at the moment. 


Spaces designed for multiple uses are great for collaboration—and the bottom line. For instance, eat-in kitchenettes, library nooks, and media rooms offer opportunities to recharge, research and reconnect—and also for brainstorming the next big idea with co-workers.

Huddle spaces are your conference rooms on steroids. Here you’ll find wall-sized whiteboards, tackable surfaces on which to display ideas and inspiration, colored markers, and other items that will help get the creativity flowing while documenting the process.  


While it’s true that those working on the same floor are 57 percent more likely to collaborate, it’s also true that not every member of a company will perform well seated together. 

Writers who need to be in the zone might not like being next to the sales team, who tend to be on the phone throughout the day. They might, however, like working next to designers so they can see their words brought to life.


It may be time to ditch the desktop computer for good. We're all on the go and don't want to feel tethered to a desk. Still, everyone appreciates a generously outfitted spot to sit when it's time to get serious. 

Stations with large display monitors into which one can plug their laptop give people an instant two-screen space — an essential these days as people handle more and more. 

Desks with built-in cable management keep the area from looking cluttered, keeping workstations ready to use by anyone.


A study published in Applied Psychology found that people who actively seek help perform better at work. Consider that a major plus for working in a collaborative space.

However, the same study found that those who provide the help often perform worse, largely because it increases their "cognitive load." 

To make this work, workers should not feel shy about blocking off chunks of "do-not-disturb" time.

In the end, there is no one-size-fits-all setup for workspaces today.

Therefore, the best solution is to poll your employees, determine how they work most productively, and balance that with management’s needs and wishes.