Tips for promoting collaboration through your office furniture and layout, from HON’s report on office design trends

by Brianna Crandall — January 14, 2019 — How can businesses encourage collaboration within the working environment? Can offices invest in furniture that encourages conversation? Moreover, how do firms create workspaces with an open atmosphere that facilitates collaboration?

The HON Company, a US-based manufacturer and designer of office furniture, sponsored research identifying collaborative design trends that impact office furniture layout. To answer these pressing questions, the company has identified the latest design trends to transform the modern workplace.

HON office furniture and infographic

The HON Company sponsored research identifying collaborative design trends that impact office furniture layout. Infographic courtesy HON. Click to enlarge.

The HON Company’s summary of the latest trends in office design along with tips to optimize your collaboration appear below.

Customize and reconfigure

Open layouts allow for customization. Employees can gather at multipurpose tables or easily reconfigure furniture to create an efficient meeting space when and where it’s needed, rather than relying on conference room scheduling and fixed, traditional conference table layouts.

Tables: Try swapping the large, single table in conference rooms for smaller, reconfigurable ones; this encourages teams to work together, hold impromptu meetings, and brainstorm.

Screens: A popular way to provide customization options and a sense of privacy is to use screens so employees can move barriers when and where they need them.

Whiteboards: Many start-up companies are incorporating whiteboards, tables, chalk walls, and other writing surfaces into their office designs to encourage collaboration and creativity.

Meet the casual meeting space

Comfortable seating: Couches and lounge chairs help set the tone for a collaborative office culture and create a comfortable, multipurpose space where employees can meet, brainstorm, and relax away from their assigned desks.

Multipurpose tables: Touchdown tables that can serve as informal meeting spaces for employees to gather, innovate, and work in common areas throughout the office are becoming increasingly popular.

Outlets everywhere: Today, outlets, USB ports, and Wi-Fi connectors are being integrated into office furniture solutions to create increasingly convenient workspaces throughout the office.

Office ecosystems

Research proves that employees are more productive when they have a variety of places or “ecosystems” to work in — private spaces for focused work and open areas to relax and socialize between projects or during breaks.

Office layout: Strategically plan your layouts to incorporate collaborative spaces such as lounges, meeting rooms and huddle rooms. Many of today’s companies are using less space for archival storage, which frees up room for more collaborative areas.

Huddle rooms and phone booths: Incorporate private spaces for employees to focus quietly or make personal calls. Try lounge areas with soft seating for breakout spaces or huddle rooms. Or, if every square foot counts, experiment with decreasing the amount of separation between workspaces.

For more complete research results and office furniture layout tips, see the Open Space. Open Mind. Collaboration Trends for Small Businesses report on the HON website.