Creating workplace zones and neighbourhoods
Hybrid workplace

Creating workplace zones and neighbourhoods

Navigating a hybrid workplace with shared desks poses a challenge: coordinating bookings and facilitating proximity between collaborating colleagues across departments. The solution? Creating designated zones and neighborhoods. Here's a guide on leveraging technology to establish and manage these spaces effectively.

November 8, 2023

In today's dynamic work environment where hybrid is the norm and office space is at a premium, traditional office layouts are giving way to highly optimised and functional collaborative spaces. Owing to this change in focus, businesses are now adopting the concept of zones and neighbourhoods to enhance productivity, collaboration, and of course, employee wellbeing.

Employees and teams are also embracing this change; making the most of dynamic office spaces that better suit their evolving needs by willingly choosing the office as their preferred location, unless they have a compelling reason to work from home.

Nura Space is at the forefront of this transformation. Our platform offers bookable zones and neighbourhoods in addition to personal spaces such as workpoints and lockers. We are also streamlining collaboration wherever possible.

In this article, we'll explore the key to creating effective zones and neighborhoods in the workplace supported by Nura Space, offering our own insights for a more innovative and efficient workspace.

The importance of workplace zones and neighbourhoods

It’s no secret that the changing landscape of workspaces has culminated in the need for adaptable and functional environments that put people at the centre. As such, companies are jumping on board and progressively moving away from legacy grey cubicles. Consequently, the old school permanently assigned desks within permanent team clusters - with the odd meeting room and/or breakout space - are fast becoming a thing of the past.

Instead, shared spaces are being favoured to allow organisations to capitalise on the hybrid working trend whilst being more effective at matching resource supply and demand - desks, rooms, lockers etc. Learn more about workplace design which encourages office attendance.

To this extent, hot-desking emerged as a progressive solution to flexible working by doing away with assigned desks. However as time went on, the shortfalls of a free-for-all hot desking began to surface for a few reasons. First of all, this strategy requires just-in-time availability of all resources ‘just in case’ which can be costly and wasteful. Then it imposes a first-in-first-served system which is inefficient and not always conducive to improved collaboration, especially if team members miss out on sitting near one another.

Implementing an individual-focussed booking system, aka desk hotelling, is a step in the right direction as it offers employees peace of mind with the ability to book their resources ahead of time. However, the absence of zones and neighbourhoods relies heavily on teams diligently coordinating with one another and being super organised and aligned with their bookings.

Learn more about hot-desking versus desk hotelling.

A workplace zone to call your own

Workplace zones allow teams to effectively “own” a space that ticks all their boxes on a rotating basis. That is, one team gets unfettered access to their desk cluster, meeting room, breakout space and wellbeing areas on their nominated day while another may be working from home or occupying another space of their choosing.  

Types of zones in the workplace are essential for creating a dynamic and versatile environment that caters to various work activities and these can be made bookable on rotation. Some examples include:

Quiet zones:

Quiet zones are designated for focused, individual work. They are typically equipped with comfortable seating, minimal distractions, and optimal lighting.

Providing access to quiet zones gives employees a change of scenery and a break from their regular workspace to get stuck into tasks that require maximum concentration.

Collaboration zones:

Collaboration zones are designed for group discussions, brainstorming sessions, and teamwork. They often feature whiteboards, flexible seating arrangements, and technology for presentations.

To promote cross-functional collaboration and fresh ideas, encourage different teams to use these spaces. Rotate team members periodically, bringing in teams from within specific neighbourhoods to work together on certain projects.

Flex spaces:

As the name suggests, flex spaces are versatile areas that can be adapted to various needs, such as workshops, training sessions, or ad-hoc meetings.

Teams can book flex spaces for their specific needs, allowing for a dynamic use of the environment based on each team's requirements.

Implementing team rotation across these various workplace zones ensures that employees from different departments or teams have the opportunity to collaborate, share insights, and gain fresh perspectives. It also keeps the workspace dynamic and responsive to changing needs, ultimately enhancing productivity and fostering a more innovative and engaging workplace.

Companies who make these spaces bookable via Nura Space not only streamline the reservation and scheduling of these zones, but can also create filters according to relevant details such as available hardware and technology, capacity, and amenities.

Project-specific zones:

Project-specific zones are tailored to the unique needs of specific projects or departments. These zones are equipped with resources and tools essential for those teams.

For example, the needs of technical teams such as engineering and IT could differ to the needs of HR and again from that of marketing.

Project-specific zones can also relate to working styles and processes adopted by teams; such as dynamic, Agile method, iterative and collaborative; thereby also incorporating some of the aforementioned zones and areas fit for this purpose.

Lounge areas:

Lounge areas are comfortable, informal spaces where employees can relax, socialise, or work in a more casual setting. These zones often include comfortable seating, coffee tables, and soft furnishings.

Lounge areas provide a for team-building activities and informal meetings. Used in rotation, these spaces offer the perfect setting for brief brainstorming sessions or simply to foster casual interactions that can lead to innovative ideas.

Wellness zones:

Wellness zones are dedicated to promoting employee wellbeing. Similar to what employees can expect to find in and around their home when they need to switch off, they may include meditation rooms, fitness areas, or spaces for relaxation and rejuvenation. The only thing missing is their bed.

Taking occassional breaks in these zones encourages employees to participate in wellness activities in their teams, promoting a healthier and more balanced work environment.

Communal dining areas:

Communal dining areas provide the perfect setting for team lunches or informal gatherings. Whilst it is one area you wouldn’t necessarily book, if the kitchen and dining space is limited, rotation of neighbourhoods ensures availability of these areas for teams to eat together which in turn fosters team camaraderie and can lead to more creative and collaborative discussions outside the usual work context.

What's in a neighbourhood?

A workplace ‘neighbourhood’ takes zones to the next level by establishing a neighbourhood of zones that mimic a neighbourhood in the community. That is, certain employees, teams and departments claim a space and its resources for a given period of time.

Cross-functional neighbourhoods:

Conducive to team-based working, cross-functional neighbourhoods are the most common and often the most beneficial in a hybrid workplace where accessing key personnel can be challenging at times. The ability to establish team-based neighbourhoods in addition to zones allows inter-departmental comraderie and easier collaboration by allowing related teams to sit in close proximity.

For instance, HR and payrol might not be part of the same teams but their roles are closely aligned whereby they could benefit from sitting within the same neighbourhood. Similarly, marketing and product development teams might collaborate on product launches and likewise benefit from this ability to freely share ideas or arrange face-to-face meetings on their in-office days.

With that said, cross functional neighbourhoods could look something like this:

  • Marketing & Sales - comprising business development and marketing etc
  • Product Development - comprising R&D, product and marketing etc
  • Legal & Compliance - comprising legal teams, OH&S, quality etc
  • Facilities management - comprising IT, facilities, OH&S
  • Employee Relations - comprising HR, payrol, L&D, EX, OH&S etc

Nura Space makes setting up zones within neighbourhoods a breeze within the Team Space Management feature. Admins can assign multiple teams to multiple neighbourhoods within which they work and management can view popular and underutilised resources for making informed decisions.

Activity-based neighbourhoods:

Activity-based neighborhoods are where employees group according to task type rather than their job function or which team they belong to.

Such a layout offers flexibility for the individual to access the types of spaces and resources needed to excel in their tasks; quiet zones for focussed work, collaboration zones for brainstorming etc.

As this approach focusses on the individuals’ needs over the needs of the team as a whole, it is more conducive to activity-based working than team-based working. So if the aim of the company is to foster a stong culture irrespective of job function and departmental roles, then this approach is a sure way to get employees interacting across the company to break down barriers.

Learn more more about team-based working versus activity-based working.

Open seating office neighbourhoods:

Open seating layouts reflect the aforementioned transformation away from the traditional cubicle towards modern collaborative workspaces underpinned by flexibility and connectivity.

This openness helps break down hierarchies; making for an inclusive workplace culture that values the contribution of all employees regardless of seniority. Gone are the days of the boss in the big office hogging all the natural light while the rest of the team occupies a darker space in the middle. Instead, the whole team can enjoy a window facing desk that lifts morale for all and makes communication more fluid.

Map and measure your zones and neighbourhoods with Nura Space

Since creating zones and teams in Nura Space, many of our clients have reported improved employee engagement according to employee feedback and real time data trends generated by the platform. This ability to tap into workplace data has not only helped measure employee behaviour company wide, but facilities teams can also drill down at a departmental level to analyse usage patterns and allocate resources in a more targeted way.

So if your hybrid workplace could benefit from implementing zones and neighbourhoods, reach out for an initial discussion about the possibilities or why not schedule a live demo to see a few in action.


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