New Ways Of Working: 3 types of emerging collaborative spaces

20 December 2021

The events of the year 2020, and in particular the health crisis we are going through, have pushed companies to rethink their intrinsic way of collaborating. NWoW stands for New Ways of Working. The most important elements include working in a home office, which is becoming increasingly common, and various types of coworking spaces. With open space, flex office, coworking, business hub, a variety of concepts are taking root and it is up to companies to find the organization concept that best matches their own identity. In the process, the question of usage must be answered: where, when and why? For several years now, there has been a major reduction in individual workspaces in favor of the creation of places for exchange and discussion. The traditional closed office is opening up to the company and other collaborators to make room for interaction and collective creativity.

« Fifteen years ago, 80% of work time was spent on individual tasks and 20% on collective exchanges. It will be the other way around in 2025. » 1

These new spaces are dynamic, vibrant and must be in tune with the needs and values of the company.

For many years, employees have adapted to the space at hand. Today, when we think of “new developments”, it is the opposite logic that is pushed. This strategy has users at its core with the focus on creating spaces that meet their needs and new demands for collaboration.

In this article we focus on three new concepts of collaboration that could become commonplace in tomorrow’s world of collaborative work.

1. The advance of the flex office or shared desks

Halfway between individual and shared offices, the flex office is all the rage when it comes to new co-working spaces. Mobility enables employees to collaborate better, and the company can significantly optimize its workspaces. In 2017, 61% of companies said they were ready to test this new organizational form.2

Gone are the days of the traditional small office with personal photos on the desk. Today, employees can move freely around the company and, above all, choose where they want to work every day. Providing an optimal user experience requires adequate equipment that enables employees to connect/disconnect to a workstation in a few seconds according to ATAWAD logic (“Any Time, Any Where, Any Device”).

There are three emerging models among the various flex office possibilities:

  • Nomadism: Each employee has their own desk, but can work wherever they want within the company.
  • Desk sharing: No workstation is assigned and the number of available stations is less than the number of employees. Our expertise and customer feedback shows that the average utilization of a workstation is only 37%, so desk sharing enables the company to save costs and optimize empty offices, especially when employees work in home offices. This percentage is expected to increase significantly due to the latest home office policies that companies have been compelled to implement this year, most of which will be fully integrated into the future organization of the workplace.
  • Bookable desk: Halfway between a fixed desk and a shared desk, the bookable desk makes it possible for employees to book a desk in advance from home – using increasingly sophisticated tools and with the goal of offering users greater flexibility. The results are quite convincing. In fact, many employees who have tested bookable desks in companies say that the regular change of location and coworkers improves exchanges both internally within a team and externally between different business units.

« 84% of employees say they are satisfied with their new work environment. » 3

These new agile work experiences thus allow employees to better understand all the different tasks and projects that bring the company to life, increasing their interest and sense of belonging to it.

2. Hybrid workspaces

Sports areas, green spaces, lounge areas… are now integrated into the office areas. These little islands of relaxation allow employees to recharge their batteries and switch off while taking a short break. It is indeed an illusion to think that we are able to stay focused and productive for eight hours in a row. Many companies have already understood this and offer their employees social spaces where they can relax and switch off. After all, we all know that the best ideas do not necessarily arise in the office, but when you step out and give your mind a break.

These hybrid living spaces also allow companies to save space and costs by offering facilities that serve multiple uses and needs in one location, enabling improved space optimization.

3. Third-party workspaces (public spaces, business hub, coworking)

Not in the office, not at home, but at some other location. This new trend of collaboration is offered to the increasingly mobile workforce and is enabled by the mass proliferation of new information and communication technologies.

There are two types of external spaces, depending on the need. Spaces for individual work such as public places (e.g., established cafés) and those intended for collaboration, such as the already commonplace co-working spaces or business hubs.

What is a business hub?

Business hub’s mainsping is based on the principle of collaboration. Unlike coworking, which typically provides large spaces in which all professions or members of a team work in the same room, business hubs require more privacy.

To further promote collaboration, a business hub brings together members of the same project or topic to work together towards a common goal. The mix of experiences and career paths combined with a shared knowledge base enable the business hubs to become real places for creation and disciplinary advances.

And the concept strikes a chord with the times. You can see these new spaces popping up all over the world to meet a wide variety of needs. Whether to enable a company to meet with its customers in a “neutral” space to collaborate on opportunities for improvement, or to advance cancer research by bringing researchers, doctors and patients together, this new model of collaboration appears to be an effective answer for many fields of activity.

Regardless of which concept you prefer to implement in your company, it is important to make people central to the project. To this end, continuous assessment is important, entailing incorporating employee feedback as part of the best practice approach right from the start of the restructuring plan.

Being equipped with the right tools to design the offices of tomorrow is therefore an important success factor, one that should not be overlooked. Spaces serve people and meet their needs, not the other way around. Our customer, isolutions AG, who tested and adopted the ROOMZ solutions, captured this philosophy in a nutshell: “ROOMZ fits perfectly into our concept of Workplace as a Service” – Roman Feierabend – Head of Managed Services at isolutions AG.

Furthermore, these spaces should be designed to be changeable to enable constant modifications in the future until the perfect balance between individual work, collaboration and relaxation is found.

Data will be your best ally when it comes to optimizing your new workspaces. After all, how can you know if a room is useful if you are unaware of the rate of occupancy or non-occupancy, or the number of people using a room each week? ROOMZ has developed a suite of solutions to help you maximize the use of your spaces by providing basic, concrete data for decision making.

[1] Study- «Futur of work»
[2] Study Parella-Esquisse (2017)
[3] Study JLL « The Flex-Office practices of big companies»
Photo by Proxyclick Visitor Management System from Pexels

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