Over the past few years we’ve been seeing the concept of coworking move from being a novel idea to a global movement. In the first stages, it was simply a space with the necessary amenities to plug and play. Now businesses not only want to be present in the coworking space but are also implementing a coworking environment within their own offices. This gives businesses the ability to connect people.
Designing coworking spaces takes a different approach – When designing a traditional office for a client, you normally want to reflect the company culture and branding which is relevant to its users, further reinforcing company values.
Coworking spaces on the other hand would need a more neutral design which allows for people to network and grow together – it’s like a physical manifestation of Facebook or LinkedIn. The key is to provide choice for the customer – provide a variety of spaces and services which foster productivity but also collaboration.
You would want to look at unexpected places for inspiration - Hotel lobbies, airports, restaurants, cruise ships, etc. An office is not the only place where work gets done. Any space that provides a sense of value is a workplace, and the nature of that environment shapes the experiences of the people who use it. Customer experience is the what makes hospitality successful.
No more dull office cubicles! Guests in hospitality expect spaces to be both functional and beautiful. Take note; plants, fish tanks, green roofs and other elements do reduce stress and improve cognitive efficiency. People want a more customized experience that reminds them of home - Resimercial design incorporates typical household features into a high-performance workplace to make it feel like a second home. This means they’re normally equipped for whatever is needed throughout the day.
It is important however not to overlook ergonomic standards. A lot of home furniture and inclusions will work fine for collaborative work, but not for focus work – Ergonomic furniture may be more expensive; however, this is where members will be spending the majority of their time.
This is where a flexible floor plan would be ideal. Closed offices, removable partitions, meeting zones, built-in nooks, booths or places that offer a bit more solitude, all contribute to a healthy coworking office, keeping in mind a mix of introvert and extrovert clients. Spaces should be flexible to move furniture around in case of events that need a large open area for presentations, collaborative teaming or even events that help build businesses.
Lighting is an other area you will want to keep plentiful and very flexible. Natural light or good quality lighting does have a positive effect on workers and directly impacts sleep. It is very likely in a coworking office that layouts will change in the future, therefore you will want plenty of outlets to accommodate changes. Also, if an office is used for social events or after work functions, installing lights with a dimming system can help transition between work time and playtime.
Our built environments have become highly specialized – which is a great thing. Happy and productive members will be a great source of marketing in a coworking space, so providing a top-notch service and creating memorable experiences are good goals to set when designing a space.