In the last year, many companies and teams have found each other again, but the way we collaborate has permanently changed. In a new, often hybrid world of work in which finding and retaining staff is a challenge for most companies, strong team cohesion can be the answer.

One of the central tasks of physical workspaces today is to create environments that foster interpersonal exchange and collaboration and bring corporate culture to life. In the hybrid workplace, this no longer occurs naturally, but needs to be designed and orchestrated by the employer. A communal working environment offers a space for teams to work individually while still being connected to what is happening in the company.

The Vitra Session on ‘Communal Work’ in April 2023 explored the concept of communal work and solutions for companies, change-makers, HR leaders and architects. Following the session, we invite you to join a local event and try out the products that promote this way of working at participating retailers and showrooms.

Communal Work at the Club Office

As companies and their teams are now working in a hybrid set-up, certain questions have to be addressed: Who is coming back to the office? What for? Is the former work environment still suitable? What does the office now have to offer? In response to these questions, Vitra developed the ‘Club Office’. The Club Office is the home of the organisation and a unique representation of its purpose and values. It is the simplest, and often only, physical manifestation of a company’s identity, and so becomes a place of belonging. In the Club, the company can host its community: members, customers and partners.

While most members of the Club float naturally from one part of the Club to the next and shift from one working mode to another, some are closely tied to their team and its physical neighbourhood within an office. Often these teams are deeply engaged with the daily operations of a company, rather than with project work or management. A communal working environment supports this approach.
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Product solutions for communal workspaces

Specific product typologies that facilitate interpersonal exchange and collaboration play a key role in communal workspaces. The communal table is central to communal work. It provides a platform that encourages close collaboration where employees exchange best-practices, break bread and connect on an informal level. Abalon forms a sitting circle, fostering informal exchange and supporting team rituals such as morning coffee. The morning huddle takes place at a shared high table, while Talky offers a space for individual retreat, phone calls or short bilateral communication.

Joyn 2 – The central element of
the communal workplace

As a large communal desk with integrated electrification, the characteristic Joyn 2 Platform is the central element of the communal workspace, allowing users to work there for longer periods of time and to instinctively take a seat at the table in a natural flow of people in changing constellations all day long. Joyn 2 also welcomes the Meet and Touchdown versions, making it a versatile family for all needs.
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Abalon – Sitting circles for informal exchange

Taking its name from the shell of a sea snail, Abalon forms its own architecture for sitting circles. Especially when two sofas are positioned face to face, Abalon evokes a circle to which people feel drawn. Its organically curved shape encourages equal participation and inclusiveness, promoting a sense of community among employees – an ideal choice for communal working environments.
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On – An office landscape conceived for communication

Over the course of about ten years, the Swiss running shoe manufacturer On has developed from a start-up to a global brand. To further expand, but without losing the company’s DNA, On grouped its employees together in a new high-rise building in Zurich-West. Designed to promote On’s culture of movement and serendipitous encounters, the new office landscape has been built with an emphasis on community.
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More on communal work in our latest e-paper

As where and how we work changes, it is our intention to provide you with the latest insights and learnings to help guide you through this process. We draw on the knowledge of our network of thought leaders, experts, scientists, designers, architects and customers – and on our own findings.

Our latest e-paper on ‘Communal Work’ explores what kinds of environments best foster collaboration, how Vitra approaches communal work and which solutions facilitate this mode of work. Sign up below to download the e-paper.
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