How to Design CoWorking Spaces that Inspire Workers
Coworking spaces are in demand like never before. It is a competitive market and contrary to the early adopters of co-working, those choosing to work out of co-working spaces today aren’t looking merely to rent affordable office space or to break away from the rigid ways of the traditional office. Users are flocking to these spaces seeking autonomy in their work, flexibility and customisation in their work environment, a vibrant community of co-workers and opportunities for exchange and collaboration. Whether they hire meeting rooms in Bangalore or desk space in Gurgaon, users are asking a hassle-free experience that does not disrupt their work flow. They are looking towards co-working to help them step up their careers, support their growth aspirations, set them free to experiment with new ideas and establish new businesses.
One way for a coworking space to rise to this challenge is to integrate these requirements into its design. Good design will keep users at the centre and and not only cater to all their needs but also give them something more – inspiration.
Co-working space design must integrate aesthetic with flexibility and efficiency without losing sight of community building which is the heart of co-working culture.
Sound architecture, sufficient light and fresh air is a minimum aesthetic requirement for a workspace. Whether to pick teal blue, sunflower yellow or olive green for the walls, whether to go with bohemian chic or classic European themed decor will depend on the philosophy of the coworking space, the culture it seeks to create and the mix of its clientele. Irrespective, the goal must be to create an environment that is visually appealing and novel. Beautiful, pleasant spaces make people want to inhabit them and to create something of value in them.
Coworking spaces must allow users the flexibility to choose their work environment and choose it as often as they like. Users should be able to move seamlessly between community events and meeting rooms, from hot-desking to private cabins or recreational areas. The design of a coworking space must also make it easy for the provider to accomodate the needs of different professions and organisations in its user base. While one group may need basic desk space with high speed, secure internet being priority, another may demand large amounts of physical storage space. One may ask for a dedicated phone line, another may need to set up a drafting board in an area with natural light.
A seamlessly functioning workspace – well maintained air-conditioning, ample printers/scanners and other office equipment, a convenient pantry service, good housekeeping staff, adequate security, ergonomical seating – is an efficient workspace. An efficient workspace feeds the productivity of individual workers. People who are at ease about basic amenities and unimpeded in their routine tasks remain free of stress and stay inspired to do better, learn faster and aim higher.
How will the space encourage interactions between co-workers? How will it relieve the isolation that comes with working independently? At what places will people naturally come together during their workday? Are there enough places for informal conversations? Will the community area be outdoors or indoors? What about a place for a comedy gig, a theatre production, a dance performance? These are the questions to ask at the design phase. A community is built from people but intelligent design plays a huge role in taking workplace culture in the right direction.