Collaborative Space Quiz: What Kind Does Your Company Need?

By Matt Brady

Discover Your Company’s Design Profile With These 10 Questions

You’re an owner or a manager, and you’re building a new collaborative space for your team. You need the right kind of space, or it will disrupt your office and delay your goals. Use these questions to more clearly define your organization and help design a space that works for you.

1. Which kind of company do you most want to be like?

A  Community institution, like Harley Davidson.

B Revolutionary, like Apple.

C Gold-standard brand, like Toyota.

D Company that dominates the competition, like GE.

2. It’s Monday morning… what is your group doing?

A  Chatting about our weekend as we get ready for our tasks.

B Sharing the latest ideas we have for the next project.

C Quietly taking our desks.

D Coming in early because the deadline is near!

3. How do you reward your top employee?

A  We reward teams, not employees.

B With something crazy and fun, or maybe time off to recharge.

C We give him or her a tasteful gift certificate.

D With something that makes other people inspired and maybe a little jealous.

4. What’s the best compliment you could receive?

A  “Your group is the best.”

B “Your new project is a breakthrough.”

C “You are the most dependable company in the business.”

D “You’re hungry.”

5. Complete this sentence: “The ideal manager…”

A  “…listens to his people.”

B “…inspires the team to take risks.”

C “… eliminates mistakes.”

D “… drives everyone to finish the project on time and under budget.”

6. What’s the most common reason to gather the entire company?

A  Celebrating a victory… or maybe a birthday.

B Attending a presentation.

C Attending a presentation.

D Laying out final plans.

7. Where should the managers be in your company?

A  They should be accessible at all times.

B They should be supporting people without getting in the way.

C They should be monitoring everyone’s work.

D They should be pushing the team to move as fast as possible.

8. How much group space do you need?

A  Most of the office should be group space

B A lot. People need to be able to get together and hash out ideas.

C Not much at all. People focus on their own work.

D Some. You need places where teams can finish tasks.

9. How does your company feel about risk?

A  Some risk is good. But we want a good work/life balance.

B Risk is vital. We’re flipping the game board!

C Risk is usually bad. We’re focused on building a solid product, not buying lottery tickets.

D We push the envelope to get results.

10. How will you beat the competition?

A  By building an unbeatable team and working together.

B By developing a new killer app.

C By focusing on quality.

D By beating production goals every time.

Researchers have developed the Competing Values Framework™, which describes four kinds of corporate culture.

If you picked mostly A’s, your company has a “COLLABORATE” culture.

You value working together and building relationships. This means you need informal spaces to connect and plan. You want comfortable, soft furniture that feels like a residence or a coffee house. In addition, you might need “strategic thinking” spaces, which brings us to our next category…

If you picked mostly B’s, you have a “CREATE” culture.

Your company takes risks and chases big ideas. Your people are trying to succeed by creating something that no one has ever seen before.

What you want are “strategic thinking spaces” where your team can brainstorm. You need comfortable seating where everyone can see each other. It should allow people to move freely and change position quickly. You want every member of the group to take turns throwing out ideas. There should be no barriers unless people need a horizontal surface for writing.

However, the space itself needs to be insulated from the rest of the office, with some acoustic shielding to keep distractions at bay.

Your company might also need social spaces as you would find in a collaborative culture. You want to keep the team connected when they’re not busy being geniuses.

If you picked mostly C’s you have a “CONTROL” culture.

Your office is a hierarchy, like a government agency or a large institution. Order and process reign supreme here. You don’t want to blow up the rules. You make a reliable product or service, and you want to keep it that way.

Your primary group area will be a classic presentation space where management can deliver instructions to the team. Think of a college lecture hall or a theater stage. You want it to look as professional and impressive as possible because it’s where you display your brand to clients, industry colleagues, and other guests.

You might want comfortable, moveable chairs to change the configuration. You should consider whether you want to give each attendee a small desk or work surface for a laptop. Also, walls and screens are important for putting up information and for blocking out noise. A door that encloses this space is key.

In addition, your company might need “tactical execution” spaces, like the next group.

If you picked mostly D’s you have a “COMPETE” culture.

Your company is focused on beating out its rivals by delivering more and performing faster. When your people gather, it’s to complete the job they’ve already started. These are tactical execution spaces.

You want a large work surface – a big, shared desk that allows a group to lay out plans, computers, and reference materials and really dig into the task. You should be able to move the chairs around. Even the desk needs to be modular, so you can break it into parts for smaller groups.

You want power and internet connections everywhere. This is not a conference room or place for brainstorming. It’s a workstation for a team driving toward their goal.

You might also want a formal presentation space in your office to wow clients with the results. But that comes later.

You already know who you are and the goals you’re chasing, the next step is to pick the kind of space that will help you get there. Good luck!