What It Takes to Collaborate


People work together all the time, yet it’s difficult to make collaboration happen. To better understand collaboration at work, Herman Miller conducted research in the US, UK, India and Australia.

Here are some things we learned. Seventy per cent of collaboration happens at the desk. On average, collaborative events are short (34 per cent lasted fewer than 15 minutes and 60 per cent were done in under 30 minutes), consist of only two or three people and involve few tools. Also, people seek out meeting spaces when they need more privacy or different tools or because they believe that the meeting will take long enough that it will constitute a real disruption to colleagues around them.

From this research and other work we’ve done, we believe there are ways to nurture collaboration. Increase collaborative space and also offer a variety of settings so people can choose the space that’s most appropriate to the task. Also, provide vertical space for display and pay attention to wayfinding. After all, in order to collaborate, people first need to be able to find each other.