Collaborative working can take different forms and its important to think through the architectural design elements of a physical work space to encourage collaboration to take place.
Traditionally when we think of working in an office, an image of a combination of fully enclosed offices and open plan workstations comes to mind for many of us. In Tasmania, office space is traditionally used by those in more senior management positions; the rest work in workstations in more open plan areas.
Designing for Interaction
The notion of working collaboratively suggests that the workplace is arranged to allow teams to interact easily and effectively. Space is needed for the team to come together to interact both for work and for social activities. Architecturally designed spaces should include a social space for tea / coffee breaks and a meeting space in addition to the other working areas. While some activities need interaction, there are times when the workers need to have some privacy and or a quieter environment.
In a recent Hobart business design, M2architecture’s design solutions for General Practice Training Tasmania included planning for combinations of offices, open plan work stations, private non-dedicated work spaces, and social spaces as well as meeting rooms of various sizes. Transparency has been incorporated into the design to create the visual connections that help dissolve the barriers but not the audio privacy when it is required, and to keep longer views for eye relief and to share the natural light.
In our design for Hobart based The 20 (previously known as Clemengers Tasmania), the design included two powerful elements – a coffee shop and a “fish-bowl” meeting room.The coffee shop is their tea break area (obviously) but it is part of the main space so there is no full isolation from the workplace. The fish bowl is a glass drum with an open top. Audio privacy was not required, but a sense of enclosure to help keep a focus was important. The activities within the drum are a shared experience and this helps to keep the whole staff engaged in the activities of the company.
In that example and also that of General Practice Training Tasmania, private work areas are available for anyone to use for private conversations or for quiet focused work when required.
Changes in working spaces
Working spaces have been going through a design revolution over the last few decades and there are some really exciting design solutions out there. We spend much of our life at work so it is important for our overall health that our work life is as enjoyable and personally supportive as it can be. While office culture is the main determinant, the physical confines of the workplace can also play an important part. By including spaces that provide:
- Private work areas for privacy when it is needed
- A variety of meeting spaces for group activities
- Some acoustic control, particularly in open plan work areas
- Allow for social interaction
- Allow for different physical movement
- Allow visual connections
- Fresh air and daylight
Our workplaces will facilitate a more collaborative function and be more a pleasant experience for the individuals who make up the whole. Have a look at some of the other Hobart based work spaces M2architecture have recently designed.