Stop Hoping for Collaboration, Here are 7 Tips to Help Plan for It

Posted: July 13, 2013   /   by

We’ve been discussing collaboration quite a bit lately – showcasing collaborative spaces, and providing helpful tips and methods for bringing collaboration into the office. But today I wanted to focus a bit more on how a collaborative culture is created – and that you should proactively plan for collaboration rather than just hoping for it to happen.

First of all, what is collaborating? One definition describes it as “Working with others collectively to create content, brainstorming, etc. Ideally, all perspectives are valued and brought together to leverage a group’s shared mind.”

Though not mentioned, it seems that one of the most important things to remember about collaboration is that it happens fairly spontaneously. Good collaboration never occurs when someone says, “Okay, go collaborate for five minutes.” Typically, the best collaborative efforts happen throughout the day, as needed.

But sometimes collaboration can be stymied before it begins because offices are inadequately arranged to allow for it – either because of a lack of space, lack of resources, or lack of natural collaborative features.

So to help you plan for collaboration, here are seven helpful tips to get your organization collaborating:


  1. Consider breaking down silos between teams by providing shared casual space for information encounters and sharing work.
  2. Plan every setting as a collaborative setting to maximize the opportunities for collaboration. Provide data, power, shared vertical elements (screens, whiteboards, tack space) to enable the exchange of tacit knowledge.
  3. Enable workers to have choice and control of where they work by providing a range of settings to support multiple work modes: focused, social, learning, and collaborative. Consider a range of “I” to “we” settings in open and enclosed areas.
  4. Consider that any space or affordance that’s more than 50 feet away from the workspace will typically not get used. Design meeting rooms, enclaves, project areas, etc., within close proximity of teams.
  5. Consider food as an attractor for bringing people together.
  6. Provide open settings where people canwork while making themselves accessible to others.
  7. Encourage workers to switch wherethey sit on a regular basis to build stronger networks between people, projects, and ideas.

And just in case you were hunting for products that would enhance these tips, here are a few:

  1. Campfire Paper Table by turnstone
  2. Campfire Ottoman by turnstone
  3. Big Table by turnstone
  4. Day Camp by turnstone