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Creating a Collaborative Work Space that Works

With 3.7 million U.S. workers regularly telecommuting, there’s no denying that out-of-the-office work spaces are becoming increasingly necessary. For the remote worker with a lackluster home office or the telecommuter with the distinct urge to get away from the neighborhood Starbucks, co-working spaces can be a welcome collaborative work space solution.

Co-working spaces promise a harmonious environment with ample opportunity for productivity. However, the lure of co-working spaces goes beyond the realm of work efficiency. Co-working spaces also promise a host of amenities, like on-site gyms (or even rock climbing walls!), coffee bars with full-time baristas, relaxation rooms and even your favorite beers on tap.

With these amenity-filled co-working spaces on the rise, the office might seem particularly drab and aesthetically displeasing by comparison. How can companies replicate the atmosphere of these co-working spaces in their own workplace to fuel employee productivity and contentment? Check out these tips on how companies can take inspiration from co-working spaces to create the ideal collaborative work space in the office:

Pay Attention to Aesthetics

If you’ve worked in an office for any amount of time, you’ve likely developed a distinct aversion to fluorescent lights. The reason for this fluorescent dislike goes beyond aesthetics; a lack of natural light can have marked effects on the productivity and quality of life of office workers.

Swiss neuroscientist Mirjam Muench has done extensive research on the effects of artificial light. According to his findings, people who experience a decent amount of natural light are “significantly more alert” as the day progresses, while those lacking in exposure to natural light are “significantly sleepier.”

To create a collaborative workspace that leaves workers feeling refreshed and alert, maximize their exposure to natural light. Position desks near windows, open the blinds, or take your lunch meeting out on the patio. Your workers will thank you later when their usual 4 PM slump is conspicuously absent.

Invest in Comfort

A big draw of co-working spaces is the attention to the comfort of workers. This seems like a no-brainer: of course comfortable employees are happy, hard-working employees. However, there seem to be far too many offices out there who haven’t caught on to this idea — seating their workers on ill-designed chairs which promulgate back pain, fatigue and generally dampened spirits, or housing employees in office climates that are ill-suited for productivity.

Invest in keeping your employees comfortable and relaxed, and you may be surprised at how quickly you see results. Research on workplace comfort and productivity conducted by Herman Miller proves just that:

“Physical comfort—the quality of light, air, temperature, sound, and ergonomics—is vital to job satisfaction and productivity. If employees are physically uncomfortable or if the building is unhealthy, work doesn’t happen well.

Functional comfort also affects productivity and job satisfaction since it deals with the tools an individual or group needs to work effectively. Providing workers with inappropriate tools— or none at all—is like asking a carpenter to build a house with fishing tackle. In addition to a bad job, the result is also stress and frustration. Functional comfort enables workers to interact effectively with their environment.”

Create Space for Collaboration

Perhaps one of the biggest downsides of the office is the delineation of space which separates employees from their colleagues. The openness of co-working spaces — along with their rooms specifically attributed to brainstorming and collaboration — is ideal for fostering creative energy amongst workers. Make sure your office space has ample room where employees feel comfortable mingling and collaborating and innovation will abound.

Place a Premium on Health

It can be no coincidence that some of the most successful and popular co-working spaces are those that contribute to bettering the health of their workers. Though your company may not have the resources to add an on-site gym to your office, there are still many ways that you can promote the health and well-being of your employees.

Consider creating a health & wellness program where employees are reimbursed for the cost of gym memberships. Organize a hiking trip or rafting excursion where employees get to be active — both physically and socially — together. Or, if you really want to make your employees happy, take a page out of Google’s book and create spaces for napping in your workplace.


As co-working spaces increase in popularity and in number, it’s important for traditional work spaces to adapt to meet the needs of their employees so non-remote workers don’t feel like they’re being short-changed by their office environment. By offering the ultimate collaborative work space, all employees — both remote and in-person — will be productive and, most importantly, happy.

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About Chelsea Mize

Chelsea Mize is a writer and content creator with a weakness for the Oxford Comma. When she’s not writing, you will find Chelsea searching for new spots to brunch and binge watching TV shows she’s already seen.

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