March 15, 2021

Ancillary Spaces: Bring Them Back to Something Better

Many office workers have gotten used to working in some pretty homey environments over the last year—in many cases, their actual homes. As they come back to the office, ancillary spaces with home-like touches can go a long way towards making the workplace return more comfortable. But how do you make these shared spaces safe in a post-pandemic world? We’ve got some ideas for you to make ancillary spaces not just safer, but better.

How Ancillary Spaces Foster Connection and Productivity

Ancillary (or shared) spaces were already a huge trend heading into 2020. They are welcoming places for collaboration and provide a comfortable alternative workspace for employees needing a break from their regular desk. Done right, ancillary spaces foster connections, fuel innovation, and improve worker productivity and morale.

The design style and functionality of shared spaces are endless. They may function as meeting areas, space for events, or simply a place to take a break and check your email with a cup of coffee. Many of the elements echo characteristics you may find in someone’s living room: comfortable lounge furniture, personal tables, plants and other home-like accessories. An effective ancillary space feels like home, but with strong performance qualities that keep the “4 Ps” in mind: proximity, privacy, posture and personality.

Better Ancillary Spaces for the Post-Pandemic Era

Since the pandemic hit, these ancillary spaces may look more like a liability due to social distancing guidelines. However, they are likely to grow in importance, moving from ancillary to primary spaces, as people return to the office. This also means they may take a greater amount of square footage compared to the past. With people feeling more disconnected from their company culture, their peers and their purpose after working from home for so long, comfortable communal spaces may be just what we need to fuel connection and belonging again as we return to the workplace. The key is making small adjustments to facilitate social distancing and safe interactions without losing the welcoming touches that make the spaces desirable.

In fact, we expect to see an acceleration of the ancillary trend post-pandemic. People are ready to come back together, but their expectations of the workplace have changed. Workers not only want to return to a safe workplace, they want to return to a better workplace. One that acts as a destination with improved technology, choice and control and the amenities they have been enjoying while working from home. A great ancillary space provides workers with all the work-from-home comforts, but with better productivity and access to the people and resources they need.

All of our NBS showrooms incorporate shared spaces in different sizes and applications. We recently modified a few of our Troy ancillary spaces to enhance their performance and safety and better support our team as they return.

Front Porch

Before, this lounge space was open to adjacent workstations and used infrequently. By reorienting the furniture, we were able to create a buffer from the nearby work areas. The bookcases and screens create a boundary and shielding for added privacy.

NBS Ancillary Spaces : Front Porch


The Library

With fewer people coming into the office on a daily basis, replacing “me” spaces with more “we” spaces is a great way to optimize real estate and support the interactions that are attracting people back to the office. Meeting in the open is also preferred by many due to better air circulation. This communal library-style table is bookended by two products that act as visual barriers between a main corridor and nearby workstation. The Extremis Sticks are a playful freestanding solution to give semi-privacy, while the Coalesse Exponents cart houses a monitor display for wireless content sharing via the ClickShare pucks. Several chairs have social distancing bands around them to identify where not to sit to remain six feet apart.

NBS Ancillary Space : The Library


Family Room

With views to the outside and lots of natural light, this space was commonly used for casual conversations or waiting area. To improve the functionality, we re-located two SnapCab pods for focus work or solo virtual conferencing, as well as new lounge furniture so people could sit facing each other vs. side by side to support social distancing yet still promote conversation. A bookcase provides shielding from the walkway behind.

NBS Ancillary Spaces - Family Room