February 7, 2012

The Collaboration Commons Idea

One of the problems that I see occurring in both offices and schools is we’re often stuck with 19th century collaboration infrastructure with 21st century technology and wishes.

For example, many libraries (be it K-12 or public) have setups like the following:


In the corporate world, all too often the office looks like the following:


Perhaps more thought should be given to the physical layout of the library or the office. Depending on the situation, it could take a lot of effort but in many cases the lift may not be all that heavy.

People are people. (Depeche Mode said that once)

And if so, we are creatures of socialization. If we want online collaboration to happen, if we want adoption and participation to increase, if we want true interaction and if we want people to become interlocutors, perhaps we start thinking (or re-thinking) the physical layout of our libraries and offices.

Perhaps we start thinking about the ‘Collaboration Commons’.

 The library could look like this:

The office could look something like this:

Think of all the collaboration that would be occurring as students and employees would be armed with tablets and laptops. 

And yes, there are loads of examples out there today … libraries and offices already in positions of strength by already acting on this type of thinking.

But there are many that are not.


And yes, I know, many of you ‘hate’ the term commons. But work with me, ok? 🙂

2 Replies to “The Collaboration Commons Idea”

  1. We’re currently in the process of such a shift where I work. In fact, I’m commenting from my dining room table after a roofing mishap this morning sent everyone home for the day.

    Since this alternative workspace initiative was announced a couple months back, there’s been an energy in the department. People are excited about the transition, about the new scenery – about being trusted to work independent of an assigned cubicle.

    I don’t have the numbers handy, but a couple hundred cubes are being reduced to less than that, mostly hotel stations with docks. These hotel cubes still retain the bulk of the floor space, but they’re introducing multiple project workspaces, connection and huddle areas, project lounges, focus rooms and lounge seating. Might even be a laptop bar or two sprinkled in for good measure.

    It’s very exciting to see these changes starting to roll out. As the future of work shifts more toward specialization, I think this will only help to encourage that mindset.

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