Collaborative vs. Distanced Workspace: Finding Balance

The Workspace Contradiction

For many businesses, the contradiction of encouraging collaboration amongst coworkers while maintaining the encouraged 6 feet social distancing guidelines has required some creative thinking for all workspaces.

Over the past couple of years we have seen a strong push towards collaborative workspaces. A key component being the idea of removing physical barriers so that teams can overcome creative hurdles. Entire office spaces have been designed around the idea that everyone should be working together. With the grandiosity of such a cultural investment as well as the time and resources we’ve all thrown into collaborative spaces, our 180 degree pivot amidst our current pandemic may prove problematic for some.

The rise of the coronavirus cases has had businesses trying to reevaluate their workspace situations. On one hand, the safety of their employees comes first. While on the other hand, the solution to this temporary problem can seem scary and counterproductive.

Luckily, there are many companies who are finding a balanced solution to this global problem at work. Additionally, leading commercial office furnishing manufacturers like the HON Company have added comprehensive social distancing applications to their catalog for nearly every office furniture need.

Collaborative Workspaces

Collaborative spaces are arguably the main component of cultural and social adaptation in the workplace. Fortune 50 companies utilize them to attract and retain talent and to promote their branding. Put simply, collaborative spaces bring teams together. Projects are completed more quickly without remote-work barriers like phone-tag and bureaucracy. Spaces are more inviting and friendly and ideas are spread faster. With open spaces and the ability to see your coworkers, coming up with ideas and working together is as easy as turning in your chair.

Socially Distanced Workspaces

Though, there is also an argument that socially distanced workspaces are full of on-the-job perks. My personal favorite is the ability to work without people sneaking up behind me. It’s a little silly, but I enjoy being able to work with the knowledge that no one is looking over my shoulder. And with the current COVID-19 pandemic going on, separated spaces help protect against the spread of viruses and germs. They don’t specifically help to get more work done, but closed off spaces do allow for peace and quiet needed to complete certain tasks, as well as more focus from fewer distractions.

Tips & Tricks: How to Find the Balance

Balance can always be found in hard times, it just takes a little creative thinking and flexibility. Those who don’t have the means to redesign their office spaces can still achieve the CDC guided socially distant workspace. It can be as simple as using previously purchased pieces.

  • Acrylic Sneeze Guards:   Many companies are installing temporary plastic barriers in front of areas of contact. This solution prohibits the spread of viruses, and the barriers are easily removed, when desired.
  • Mobile White Boards:   Certain mobile white boards that are popular in a collaborative workspaces also function perfectly for distancing purposes. They have also become an extension the workspace and adds a level of privacy.
  • Space It Out:   If the space is available, spread office arrangements out a little. As long as you can maintain some distance and follow the other recommended safety precautions, your set-up will meet the criteria!
  • Rearrange:   If there isn’t room in the budget for new things, just rearrange a bit. Create physical blocks to spaces so that everyone is forced to keep their distance. This is as easy as setting tables in-between chairs, flipping your L-shaped desk, or moving file cabinets in between desk units.


For COVID-19, PPE, and Remote Work options that can help with balancing collaborative and distanced workspaces, click here for our FriendsOffice Website.

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