Collaborative Workspaces

By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing

Few aspects of work are individual endeavors. It takes a team to bring an idea to fruition and the efforts of many to achieve success. It’s no surprise then that modern workplace design skews toward collaboration. But what is a collaborative workspace, really? What defines it and makes it conducive to individual and team efforts?

Collaborative workspace design isn’t just about recognizing the needs of many, but fitting them together in an environment where every individual supports a larger goal.

Fostering cooperative, collaborative work

The objective of a collaborative workspace is to bring team members together in pursuit of a common goal. Even if individuals play different roles, the workspace they share should accommodate their contributions.

Cooperation is at the root of collaboration. Employees who cooperate can work together, regardless of the objective or obstacles. This concept is at the root of every corporate team-building exercise, and it needs to be central in collaborative workspace design. How can you create an environment that naturally brings people together and fosters a cooperative group dynamic? Answer this question and you’ve found the motivation behind creating a collaborative workspace.

high performing workplace tips

The pillars of collaborative workspaces

A collaborative working space isn’t a group of individual workspaces clumped together. It’s a new design that’s rooted in cooperation. Pushing individual desks together only means bringing individual workspaces closer in proximity. To be truly collaborative, a workspace needs the proper foundation. Specifically, it needs:

  • Physical space: The simplest way to foster collaboration is to provide ample space for employees to work. Cramming too many people in a space that’s too small is a recipe for friction. Give them enough room to spread out while still in proximity to the team.
  • Technological resources: Cooperative work stalls without the right tools. Cloud software and collaborative platforms, such as Slack and Zoom, keep teams engaged and allow every member to contribute in their own capacity.
  • Comfort: From lighting to acoustics, furniture to floor plan, collaborative spaces should be synonymous with comfort. Being able to work in comfort within an environment that’s constantly abuzz is crucial for productivity.
  • Optionality: Many people sharing a single space demands variety. An array of furniture, seating arrangements, and resources cater to the many personalities you’re bringing together.

Bear in mind, the goal of a collaborative workspace isn’t assimilation. It’s about bringing individuals together to contribute, which means cultivating a space that fosters individuality within a group dynamic. Accommodating every individual helps foster the strongest group dynamic.

The positive effects of collaborative space

Designed right, collaborative space offers businesses a plethora of benefits. The most obvious is the ability for teams to work side-by-side in an environment designed to improve productivity, efficiency, and communication. Taking employees out of individual office spaces and putting them together naturally complements the work they’re already doing.

The proximity and positive group dynamic of a collaborative workspace goes beyond pure work benefits. For example, there’s socialization to consider. Collaborative spaces take the water cooler out of play, which encourages employees to socialize within their groups. Instead of taking time out of work to socialize, this interaction becomes part of the work itself.

Camaraderie and culture also benefit. Talking about the season finale of a hot show or the latest pop culture headlines creates common ground for coworkers, spawning everything from inside jokes to friendships outside of work. And, when the going gets tough, everyone is in the trenches together, putting in long hours and hard work side by side. Every day the group grows closer, promoting a tight-knit company culture.

The collaborative workspace is the setting for these benefits. It marks an important shift from individuals working within a group to a group working as one.

Buy-in is crucial to the success of collaborative workspaces

There’s a final caveat to the success of a collaborative workspace: employee buy-in. You can assemble the best workspace in the world—conducive to group work and free-flowing collaboration—but it’s immediately invalidated by a group that can’t or won’t work together.

Again, this is why addressing the needs of each individual is important. Employees who feel like they have nothing to gain from a collaborative work environment will be reluctant to adopt it. Sell the benefits on a personal level, then introduce the positives from the group standpoint. When employees see the benefits for themselves and understand how their presence boosts others, they’ll be more inclined to accept a collaborative work environment.

Keep reading: how to design a collaborative office space.

demo spaceiq


Coworking or Co-working?

By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer

Going to Starbucks and having your name spelled wrong on the cup is something of a novelty these days. It’s funny and often harmless—as much a joke as a miscommunication. You drink your coffee and get on with your life. So why is there such an uproar over the spelling of coworking? Is it “coworking” or “co-working” and is there really a difference?

The problem stems from media coverage of the coworking movement. Until recently, spelling standardization hasn’t reached blog posts, white papers, articles, and press releases. This led to confusion. Is coworking one word or two? Two words with different meanings? The lack of standardized spelling muddled the public’s understanding of coworking and co-working.

The difference may be a hyphen on the surface, but the meaning of the word is quite different with and without it. It comes down to how you understand differences and similarities of both.

high performing workplace tips

Does the hyphen really matter?

If you want to be correct at a purely grammatical level, the correct term is “coworking”—in most cases. So says the AP Stylebook, anyway. It refers to individuals from many companies working in the same surroundings. Adding the hyphen turns it into “co-working,” which means working in the same space with employees from the same company. The difference is subtle, yet distinct.

But again, is it really an important one?

Absolutely! As sure as spelling “Aaron” or “Erin” genders the person ordering coffee at Starbucks, adding the hyphen to “coworking” changes the entire idea behind the word’s use. While they may share the same pronunciation, they embody different concepts in how they paint a picture of the workplace.

A look at “coworking”

A software engineer, a copywriter, and a wellness coach sit down in a café. No, it’s not the start of a great joke; it’s the concept behind a coworking space.

Coworking (sans-hyphen) is the default spelling because it’s usually the concept people refer to when using the word. They’re talking about individual professionals from all walks of life, grouped together and working in the same space. Terms like coworking space, coworking facilities, and coworking software all relate to space sharing by professionals.

Delineating the right spelling qualifies a coworking space’s meaning: a place outside of the traditional company work environment. As we’ll explain below, it’s a clear departure from “co-working,” which harkens back to a more traditional office concept. Coworking represents work habits of today and tomorrow. The term goes beyond just the space itself—it covers a broader movement of working where, when, and with whomever you want.

Breaking down “co-working”

Though a valid spelling and concept, co-working is largely antiquated these days. It’s symbolic of traditional offices. Workers in the same cubicle clump or jammed into the same conference room participate in co-working. It’s simply the proximity to workers from the same company, doing similar tasks.

Co-working has many denotations associated with it. It paints a restrictive picture of monotone old offices, cramped spaces, and lethargic workers. It evokes feelings of drudgery and repetition. Most importantly, it tethers the concept of work to a desk or an office.

But work has come a long way from this grim description, which is why co-working is now repurposed as coworking.

Simple terms for complex concepts

The reclamation of the coworking definition as a term represents more than just the exclusion of a hyphen. It validates a movement that’s changing the way the world works. The way we work has changed, which is why the spelling also changed. Spelling coworking correctly when talking about the modern workplace gives it credence. It’s a recognition that cubicles, wall clocks, and marathon meetings aren’t part of the current workplace. There’s a lot of power behind dropping that hyphen.

If you think this is an overreaction to a simple matter of spelling, think again. There’s a huge movement behind validating the proper spelling of coworking, fueled largely by leaders in the coworking industry. Many voiced complaints about the lack of standardized spelling—complaints strong enough to solidify an AP Stylebook update in 2018.

You may not get up in arms about Starbucks spelling your name wrong…but then again, there isn’t a paradigm shift in the workforce hinged on your name. Recognition gives a movement meaning, and it starts with the right nomenclature. Just like we capitalize proper nouns and recognize acronyms by their precise and proper spelling, coworking deserves the same benefit.

Keep reading: What is Coworking? A Look Into The Future of Coworking.

demo spaceiq


Flexible Offices

By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager

This weekend, your local community center is hosting a wedding. Next weekend there’s a concert. You’ve also been there for a farmer’s market, craft fair, and a town hall meeting. Needless to say, a little of everything happens at the community center. It’s a flexible space.

The concept is the same for a flexible office space. It’s a workplace designed to accommodate whatever type of work you need to accomplish. But office space flexibility isn’t just about the space or how you use it—it’s about the dynamic it introduces to your workplace. Flexible workplaces promote adaptability, which enables work to get done better, faster, and more efficiently.

Flexible office space explained

Also known as “flexispace,” flexible work arrangements create dynamic environments. They’re comprised of everything you’ll find in a traditional office—desks, chairs, phones, computers—arranged in a way that’s highly versatile. The concept is to accommodate the diverse needs of workers. A single area of the office is a group workspace today, a presentation area tomorrow, a project staging area next week, and so on.

Flexible workspaces are scalable. An office may include several flexible work areas or the entire workplace may benefit from a flexispace design.

Flexible workspace elements

While flexible workplaces include the essential elements of traditional offices, they’re practicality is forward-thinking. Because they incorporate elements of shared workspaces, activity-based workspaces, and open office floor plan concepts, a few critical elements govern flexible office space trends:

  1. Open plan concepts. Flexible workspaces need a baseline open concept to be successful, since the agility of the design stems from a lack of physical barriers. Open concept plans also offer the best square-foot-per-occupant efficiency.
  2. Breakout spaces. Despite the collaborative nature of flexispace, employees need opportunities to work in smaller groups or by themselves. They’re a quick departure from the generally noisy, fast-paced, agile environment.
  3. Quiet zones. Quiet provides opportunities for privacy and focused thinking. Quiet zones are a must-have to offset the busy hum of open spaces. Just make sure they’re not constantly locked down by the same employees or groups.
  4. Touch points. These are overflow areas to accommodate additional staff, temp workers, and on-site partners. They ensure a fixed space to work, without relegating employees to an under-utilized area or subjecting them to constant shuffling as the workplace adapts.
  5. Shared resources. Regardless of who’s working where, everyone needs access to shared resources. The copy machine, break room, and other general-use office assets must be accessible to everyone—regardless of how they’re working.

Together, these core elements make up flexible workspaces. They offer enough space  for everyone to work in whatever capacity they need. They’re the secret to why your community center is able to do so much with the space it has.

The benefits of flexibility

As mentioned, flexibility induces adaptability. Given a diverse range of workspace types, employees gravitate to the type of space they need on any given day, for any given project. They meet for a project kick-off in a collaborative space, then break off with their team to plan the details. The rest of the week involves bouncing back and forth between breakout spaces, quiet zones, and collaborative spaces.

Flexible workplaces offer a happy medium between a single concept and remote work. Employees can’t work exclusively in an open office, but they don’t need the complete freedom of working from home or a coworking space. Flexispace puts all essential workplace types in one office or area, letting employees decide how they want to work.

How to introduce workplace flexibility

The philosophy of flexible spaces isn’t defined by the space itself—it’s realized by utilizing it. You can’t just reorganize your office and call it “flexible.” Employees must learn to use the space they need within the context of a flexible workplace.

The best way to create a flexible workplace culture is to clearly delineate different workspaces and explain them to employees. Then, let them realize the benefits on their own. Your workforce is smart. They’ll quickly realize why it’s better to collaborate in an open office area and work by themselves in a breakout space or at a touch point. It’ll take time to adjust to the versatility, but employees will realize its benefits as the workplace naturally conforms to their habits and tasks.

Workplace professionals are smart to include all types of spaces in a flexible office—or at the very least, agile spaces capable of conforming to different expectations. Successful flexible work environments are those that don’t leave employees looking for a place to work; they simply provide it. And, with any luck, your office will become its own version of a community center.

Keep reading: the ins and outs of flexible workspace.


Facility Managers

By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management

Facilities manager isn’t an ambiguous title—at least at face value. In the same way a zookeeper is someone who “keeps the zoo” or an air traffic controller “controls air traffic,” a facilities manager “manages facilities.” It’s not rocket science or brain surgery, which also have apt titles.

But what exactly does it mean to manage facilities? Especially in today’s fast-paced work environment, the question “What is a facilities manager?” is a broad one. It spans real estate, personnel, budgeting, safety, technology, and business operations. Any business aspect that touches facilities also involves the facility manager.

The traditional role of a facility manager

To understand the role of a modern facility manager we need to ask a different question first: What are a facilities manager’s traditional responsibilities?

Upkeep and management of the physical facilities are at the top of the list. Facility managers make sure the workplace is a welcoming, safe, well-maintained operation. This includes everything from hiring landscapers, utility budgeting, asset management, and vendor coordination.

These core responsibilities touch so many aspects of the workplace that it immediately extrapolates a facility manager’s responsibilities. Consider jobs like coordinating safety processes, managing the company’s personnel directory, or helping new workers get accommodated at their desks. All fall into the facility manager’s lap.

The breadth of traits necessary to be a facility manager is just as diverse. Facility managers need a broad assortment of skills—everything from budgeting, project planning, data analysis, and problem-solving. Facility managers face challenges across a wide spectrum, at varying levels of complexity. They need a broad skill set to meet them.

Integrated facilities management

The traditional nature of a facility manager is still deeply ingrained in the position. But thanks to the evolution of the workforce and contemporary offices, their role now harbors even more responsibility.

What does a facilities manager do today that they didn’t a decade ago? Namely, coordinate technology and the vast quantities of data derived from it. The digital component of facilities management is arguably now the biggest part of the job. Everything from vendor management, space planning, facility upkeep, and beyond takes place in cyberspace. And, because every action is quantifiable, facility managers are constantly tasked with streamlining their work. The title “facilities manager” might be better renamed “workplace data scientist.”

Mix in the office Internet of Things (IoT) and there’s even more on a facility manager’s plate. Thankfully, much of the IoT can be automated and integrated—but that’s still an initial job for the facility manager. When everything is up and running, data collection and analysis still looms.

It’s all building to the concept of integrated facilities management. Facility managers are still responsible for keeping the workplace welcoming, safe, and well-maintained, but it’s more quantitative than ever before. Integrated facility management provides these answers only after a facility manager has taken the appropriate steps to digitize their workplace, aggregate the data, and interpret the trends.

The expectations of modern managers

New job duties aren’t the only shift in the facility management career field. Facilities manager qualifications are also evolving. Look at online job postings for forward-thinking companies and the skills section of the advertisement spells out the search for a highly competent, tech-savvy individual. In addition to education and training, you’re likely to see skill requests that include:

  • Experience using IWMS, CMMS, and other systems
  • Familiarity with sensor and beacon technology
  • Ability to work with program APIs for custom integration
  • Cross-platform program experience (phone, tablet, laptop)
  • Understanding of cloud computing infrastructure

Experience with and willingness to learn facilities management technology isn’t the only expectation emerging in the field. Companies need individuals capable of managing environments that are always in flux. Overseeing agile workspaces, flexible workers, and coworking environments takes traditional facility management tasks and expands them. Modern FMs need to be quick on their feet and highly adaptive to keep up.

Managing an evolving workplace

The workplace has been evolving over the last decade and is still in the midst of its transition. The next wave of facilities managers needs to keep pace with that evolution. More importantly, they’ll play a role in bridging classic FM concepts with modern needs, using next-gen technology.

The title of “facilities manager” is simple, but the job duties and expectations of these professionals is anything but. In the corporate world, it’s not a stretch to put them in a class with rocket scientists and brain surgeons—even if they may feel like zookeepers and air traffic controllers sometimes.

Keep reading: how to select the best facility management software.