Collaboration is widely defined as a working practice whereby individuals work together for a common purpose to achieve business benefit.

However, most office spaces don’t do a great job of reinforcing collaboration, brainstorming or colleague innovation. Most modern offices are ruled by cubicles or offices which are only suited for individual work. Collaborative spaces need more flexibility that better supports teams while inspiring deep thinking and productivity (A great example of this kind of space is ahem, Edison Spaces, ahem. We digress.)

As entrepreneurs who have designed private office space with collaboration in mind, here are our Top 5 Things EVERY Collaborative Office Needs.

1. Privacy

Say what? Isn’t that counterintuitive? Nope. Here’s why: Privacy is required for deep work and concentration. The cube farm, while popular, makes privacy almost impossible.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “The increased focus on collaborative work means we’re rarely alone, and the ubiquity of mobile devices means we’re always accessible. In light of these pressures, it’s not surprising that the number of people who say they can’t concentrate at their desk has increased by 16% since 2008, and the number of those who don’t have access to quiet places to do focused work is up by 13%.”

Translation: you need an office with energy, but people need to be able to find a quiet spot to focus away from distraction.

2. Public Space

Stay with us, yes, you need privacy and a place for deep work, but collaborative office space does also need public space that supports innovation and cooperative thought among colleagues.

A collaborative office will boast floor plans with high traffic areas, common areas and other places to read, write and work that encourage employees to leave their confined offices. They will also emphasize areas that hold two or more people rather than single-occupancy offices and let people do their “thinking” in public and their focused work privately.

3. A Whiteboard

Dry erase boards or whiteboards have been around a while now, and very little has changed in how they work. Write, erase, repeat. Right?

In today’s high-tech world, this straightforward tool helps for real-time collaboration, brainstorming, and organization. Think of your best meetings. I guarantee someone was using a whiteboard to capture, organize and plan. Every office in Edison Spaces has a whiteboard in it. And, that is not an accident.

4. Flexibility

Flexibility and collaboration are two sides of the same coin. Whether it’s flexibility in your office lease, your dress code or telecommuting, the goal should be to create a bridge between independence and support. You can be granted autonomy and be open to collaboration. In the end, it’s about working with your people to meet their needs.

5. Caffeine (or food, but mostly caffeine)

If you were to visit Google headquarters, you would find that no office is more than 150 feet from food (either a restaurant, cafeteria, employee lounge, et al.) See, what Google gets is that eating, drinking and snacking allows coworkers to interact differently than they do at their desks. It’s no secret that enjoyment of work creates and fosters creativity, so have coffee and or food areas available to your employees. We’re all a little bit happier and more productive after that first cup of Joe.