How to Build a Collaborative Workspace (And Why You Should)

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The workforce is more diverse and distributed than ever, and this new paradigm needs a new style of workspace to thrive. To optimize new team spaces for outside-the-box thinking, companies are experimenting with a new office design: the collaborative workspace.

These new spaces are designed to maximize the balance between flexibility, scalability, and productivity in innovative ways. And they also appear to work as intended . According to McKinsey and Company , a collaborative workspace can improve metrics for individual, team, and organization-wide performance.

You need the right layout, collaborative tools, and mindset to build a functional collaborative workspace. Are you ready to make the shift?

What is a collaborative workspace?

Collaborative workspaces are defined by their best qualities — diversity, inclusivity, and empowerment — more than their physical arrangements.

These spaces operate on two levels: physical and operational. The collaborative workspace provides private, quiet spaces for focused work as well as social spaces for team collaboration, socializing, and more.

A truly collaborative workspace has a physical infrastructure that enables cultural frameworks to come to life. This kind of space also requires a design that clearly prioritizes teamwork over competition.

In some ways, freelancing practices influenced collaborative workspaces. Everyone works differently and excels in different types of work settings. A collaborative design recognizes this by offering a variety of spaces to suit different moods, objectives, and tasks.

In addition to conference rooms, a collaborative workspace often features a few basic formations:

  • Common areas that cater to informal, unstructured teamwork
  • An open floor plan with separate spaces for quiet work (with easy access to impromptu conversations and connections)
  • Lounge areas with sofas, outdoor patios, and other informal spaces for community life

Some settings serve multiple uses. Depending on the time of day, an office bar — complete with craft beer taps or espresso makers — can be a casual meeting space, a quiet workstation, or a social area.

Conversations in shared work spaces Conversations in shared work spaces

Why develop collaborative workspaces?

A space’s design can dramatically transform the collaborative experiences and outcomes of the work done there.

Unconscious aspects of a workspace can also impact employee engagement, job satisfaction , and even mental health. Some of the space’s architectural techniques might be too theoretical for most people to notice. But there are some layout choices that anyone can see and understand.

Take the often-maligned cubicle, for example. The cubicle was a radical departure from the norm when Herman Miller introduced Robert Propst’s “ Action Office ” concept to the working world. The cubicle introduced the idea of semi-private workspaces for the masses and, at the time, was considered a progressive advance.

As work cultures evolved to value collaboration over solo work, the cubicle is now seen as outmoded and isolating. It’s bad for teamwork and, in many instances, morale.

Amenities that make collaboration more natural, from good lighting to healthy snacks in kitchens, are growing in popularity to meet the needs of an evolving workforce.

Related: How the Right Workspace Can Spark Creativity

New tools for collaborative spaces

Technology makes fostering a team-first work environment possible as well. A tech stack including tools like Asana, Flowmap, and Trello can connect people virtually to work on the same project, at the same time, from anywhere. They help enable collaboration without making physical proximity necessary.

When meeting in person, a digital whiteboard lets teams organize ideation sessions, visualize concepts, save digital sticky notes, and more.

The Vibe digital whiteboard even includes integrations to welcome remote workers to collaborative sessions from anywhere. All your notes are automatically saved to the Vibe cloud, where you can easily review and share them.

Integrated zoom for remote collaboration Integrated zoom for remote collaboration

Co-working for coworkers

As more companies collaborate with freelancers, consultants, and contract workers — often remotely — the physical workspace has changed to meet these new expectations.

Co-working has gone from an informal practice to a phenomena that defines the contemporary work experience. In 2016, 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely  — a number that is only on the rise.

Collaborative spaces now must include technology to connect in-house staff with freelancers, contractors, clients, even remote offices halfway around the world. The ability to screen-share to and from mobile allows your team to comfortably collaborate from any space, in-house or remote.

Related: Digital Whiteboards: the 11 Best Reasons to Invest

What does a collaborative workspace look like?

Here are a few of our favorite examples:

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Spotify provides a variety of different spaces throughout their office to curate feel for their employees. Many of these spaces are more like those you’d find in a university library or hip cafe than a classic corporate office.

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Slack’s San Francisco HQ features a “forest floor” to introduce the calmness of the natural environment to the collaborative experience.

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Google’s second location on LA’s westside is in the old Spruce Goose hangar. They refit this massive open space with a variety of smaller collaborative nooks to give it context and proportion, creating “spaces that are moldable and flexible,” according to Google spokesperson Katherine Will.

Want more examples of creative and collaborative spaces? Check out how the team at Fluxspace prioritizes adaptability and creativity in their “How I Vibe” story .


Vibe offers a collaborative solution combining an interactive digital whiteboard and innovative smart software. Increase engagement and efficiency at your brainstorming sessions, virtual training, and classroom sessions by integrating your favorite applications with video conferencing and an infinite, mess-free writing canvas. Collaborate today with Vibe.

Looking for the latest in interactive whiteboard technology? Check out Vibe today!

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