Current asynchronous (e. g., email) or synchronous (e. g., video-conferencing) communication methods in the workspace can be obtrusive and fail to mimic spontaneous interpersonal communication. This can cause difficulties in forming close relationships among working colleagues. To examine this problem, we conducted a needs assessment study consisting of an online survey, a focus group, and a co-design session to gather a set of system requirements and metaphors as a base for future system designs. Based on the results, we designed two metaphor-based ambient tangible systems to support awareness among working colleagues: AwareCups and AwareHouse . Furthermore, we evaluated these systems in a short field study with 22 participants and found that both systems are highly intuitive and easy to use. We discuss the solution space for metaphor-based tangible awareness systems and the effects of the outcomes on the potential increase of awareness among colleagues.