Together at the table: an insight into the community table
Posted by Gary Duguid on 19/10/2016
Providing an insight into a workplace design trend that's bringing people together: the community table.
Collaboration and community - two words that we are hearing more and more when workplaces are discussed, their perceived importance is evidently increasing. Cue the community table, a design element that can encourage and support both of these aspects.
What is a community table?
The name may give you a hint, but if you haven’t caught on it’s a table that has no one owner or user, that can be used by anyone and everyone. The community table can be used for a variety of purposes and people can invent their own uses for it.
How do you use yours?
Bringing people together to eat, chat and meet is invariably important. The community table is useful to encourage people to step away from their desks and spend quality time with colleagues. It's also a great area for an adaptable working space to give you flexibility in the way you work, and even somewhere to play board games or ping pong!
We often use it to gather around for our fortnightly 'Interaction Time' meetings where we talk about what we've been up to; from projects to social events. For us the community table is a purposeful representation of community, emphasising the fact we're a team, reinforcing the collegial and collaborative approach that we take here at Interaction.
Where does this trend come from? And how is it going to influence office design?
This concept is not a new phenomenon, you can see this type of design in restaurants such as Wagamama. A canteen-esque style that has been commonly adopted in this industry. The community table is also commonplace in modern kitchens in homes, kitchens are often known as the hub of a house, in which families gather together.
The community table is a facet of the flexible working design trend, as we've past wholly open offices and enclosed, private offices, we now look to more flexible workspaces with a balance of both. Acknowledging that people are different, and people work in different ways depending on the task. Therefore giving people the choice to work however they want to, on their own, collaboratively, standing up, with music etc., is important. Design trends such as the community table allow people to do just this.
No place like home
This trend goes hand in hand with many other modern design trends, such as the rise in breakout areas - creating spaces that are more relaxed and more like home. Companies are now realising the impact that workplaces can have on business, and as creativity and wellbeing become of increasing value, these kind of trends will become more and more common.
Does it work?
Depends. You can’t just insert a large community table in the middle of an office and expect to suddenly have a collaborative workspace. The degree to how successful it is, depends on the culture of your business. If this sounds like it would fit into your already established culture, then there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work. Furniture or design is not enough to create a culture, that has to come from the bottom up and be engrained in the business’ values.
Do you encourage clients to implement this design feature?
Absolutely. If we feel like they have the right culture, or are in the process of creating that culture, then it is always something we suggest as we’ve seen first hand how useful it can be.
A recent example
A recent example can be seen at Sift Digital. At their tea point and breakout area we designed a long table that is used regularly for informal meetings, group lunches, social gatherings and solitary/group work.
This can be a great way to bring people together, provide with more flexible working space and much more. It’s a design feature that’s not regularly talked about when office design is discussed, but it’s benefits are boundless.