How to make a collaborative office space with social distancing

As we look towards 2021, we can only hope for a more stable year ahead, one where workers in offices can continue to work safely and socially distanced. We may have to continue alternating between working from home and office days, judging the climate of the pandemic as we go. For those office days, we need to make sure we are following updated, safe policies in line with social distancing and even better hygiene. But how can the workspace be updated? One way that workspaces can be enhanced for next year is by making room for a more collaborative office space, but how can you do this exactly?

What does a collaborative office space look like?

There are a few ways to interpret this, but overall, it’s about making sure teams can work together easily and efficiently to achieve company goals through a more dynamic office space.

Another way to make a collaborative workspace is by allowing employees from different offices and companies to work under one roof, in one shared workspace. Whether you have a small start-up or a renowned, global enterprise, a collaborative space provides opportunities for your staff to integrate with other groups on shared floors, using shared amenities as well as allowing more flexibility for staff throughout the day.

Collaborative working

Considering around 75% of workers regarded teamwork and collaboration as important, it’s a great idea to make sure your office space works around this.

This means providing a layout that encourages teamwork and helps people work more productively and in cooperation, all while social distancing is maintained. If social distance is too difficult to achieve in certain areas, make sure you’re requiring that staff wear masks, or that you have a physical barrier such as a protective screen.   

  • Sit-stand desks allow employees to move around more, which improves circulation
  • Swivel chairs mean workers can easily move around, especially if they need to look at something on another office desk
  • Avoid back-to-back layouts, and have as many people facing one another with good, safe distancing
  • Collaborative working is all about comfort – go for multifunctional furniture and beanbags to encourage more socialising (safely distanced, of course)
  • Brainstorming areas – provide working walls so employees can add to notice boards and whiteboards, sharing ideas etc.
  • Make sure project collaboration software and communication channels are up to date so that teams can work together more efficiently, even when working from home

Communal spaces

A communal space is key to collaborative work and there are a number of ways you can help set this up for your office:

  • Circular layouts with comfy office sofas give a more communal vibe, as they encourage team members to group together in a relaxed setting to share thoughts
  • Connect teams by having open-plan spaces where things are not too closed off
  • You can get glass cell pods to separate people whilst not keeping them totally shut off
  • Bring more breakout areas into the workspace by providing benches, relaxed office rooms and coffee tables
  • You could make areas a bit cosier for staff to take a break in or for some timeouts to think creatively
  • Opt for more transparent walls and separators in the office like glass screens and biophilic features to create divided spaces that aren’t too segregating

Coffee place feel

Create a more collaborative feel by offering amenities and coffee stations. Starbucks does an interesting business program or you could simply design an office that is styled more like a coffee shop, where staff could plug in laptops at coffee tables on comfier chairs with nearby coffee machines. The more open the better, and who doesn’t love working from a coffee shop?

Making an office safe with social distancing

Of course, with more collaborative designs and encouragement for team building, it’s important you maintain effective social distancing wherever possible. If this proves too difficult in certain areas, make sure employees are wearing masks. If you have implemented clear COVID-19 policies that require staff to follow best hygiene practices and social distancing, along with signs and guides within the office, you can create safer office spaces. Whatever sector or industry you’re in, see how you can implement effective social distancing in the workplace