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WorkSpace Wednesday: Reshaping Collaborative Spaces


Photo of workers collaborating in office
Image: F8studio -
As companies plan for post-pandemic office re-occupancy, many are gravitating toward a hybrid work model that has employees coming into the office for collaborative teamwork and leaving their focused, heads-down tasks for the days they’re working from home. Some employees love the flexibility this provides, while others see it as too inflexible — meaning, they’d much prefer either to be able to work exclusively from home or always from the office. Few companies can escape this thorny issue.
In planning for the hybrid work model, the onus is on enterprise IT leaders to accommodate different types of collaborative work, be that one on one, team-based, all in-person or all-remote, a mix of in-person and remote, and with or without technology. And, as we regularly discuss on our sister site, WorkSpace Connect, at times this means coordinating with facilities/real estate and HR leaders to ensure an approach that takes technology, space, and policy into account.
Some of the latest thinking on changing up the office for more collaborative work comes out of commercial real estate firm CBRE and its occupancy management research, as shared in the recent WorkSpace Connect post, “RTO: Come Back for the Amenities & Connections.” For example, as explained in the post based on insight from Susan Wasmund, the firm’s senior managing director and global occupancy lead, CBRE sees many of its clients shifting the distribution of workspaces within their offices from “me” to “we” orientations.
According to Wasmund, 86% of CBRE’s occupancy management accounts surveyed were either mobilizing or considering mobilizing around activity-based working, an approach that allows employees to pick where within an office they work on a day-to-day basis based on their tasks at hand. “Clients that … have always struggled with giving up their one-to-one [seating] ratios are now all of a sudden embracing it,” she added during her presentation.
But, activity-based working is just the start. What CBRE sees catching on even more, she said, is team-based and event-based work design models — meaning, that shift from me to we spaces, to accommodate collaborative teamwork and all-hands-on events. Today, the event-based workspace is the most progressive model, with perhaps 15% of space dedicated to me activities and 55% for we activities (plus 25% of space for support and amenities). Getting the space allotment right, Wasmund suggested, will help “magnetize people into the office. They need … to come back for the culture and the connection with their peers.”
Of course, space is just one prong. Do your communications and collaboration strategy and technology choices account for the need for increased team and event spaces?

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