Coworking spaces have revolutionized the way we collaborate—bringing diverse individuals and organizations from all backgrounds into one collaborative workspace. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? As the nature of ‘the office’ evolves toward coworking, one thing has become abundantly clear: people are more productive, less stressed, and just plain happier in these collaborative environments. So how are the masterminds behind coworking spaces doing it? What exactly constitutes as a coworking setup, and how can you create the perfect layout for your unique community? We’ve sifted through the best expert tips out there to get the answer once and for all.
Create your space with people in mind
While it’d be next to impossible to create a prototype for your member demographic (aside from the fact that they’re all there to get work done), consider your community. Seek opinions from local professionals and stakeholders. What do they value in a productive workspace? Local professionals, or potential members: architects and accountants alike will have a valuable input when it comes down to designing this workspace and developing a professional community.
A Coworking Space should be Flexible
First and foremost, rooms need to be designed to avoid a sense of hierarchy or isolation. Make collaboration as seamlessly possible, as possible! Spaces should be able to re-arrange easily, with sliding partitions, furniture on wheels, rolling stools and pushed-together tables. In “non-territorial” offices where desks are spread around, individuals have no fixed location in the office and are encouraged to cluster in new, ad hoc configurations depending on the day’s projects.
Keep it “home-y”
They say the home is centered around the kitchen, well the same holds true for a coworking space or office. Create a comfortable, homey hub around a kitchen area with bar stools, perhaps a couch nearby to have a casual meeting or work on your laptop, and of course, a coffee machine. This will encourage people to leave their desks and work or socialize the communal area. Common informal areas contain all the essentials for interaction, cooperation, communication and casual mingling—the perfect ingredients for fostering a coworking community.
Light it up!
One major factor that sets coworking spaces apart from their traditional office counterparts is natural light. Experts agree: the more, the better. In a natural environment, life needs light for energy and growth. The same goes for professionals. Allow as much natural light as possible while simultaneously fostering a sense of community. A simple trick to make this happen is to make necessary walls lower than the ceiling. Similarly, doors and some parts of the walls can be made of glass, to bring light into the hallways and also to increase visual communication between people.
Make room for fun
Beanbag chairs, a game room with ping-pong, subtle nudges for after-work play (like a surfboard rack, if your space happens to be near the ocean), or group happy-hours are a sure-fire way to encourage interaction. This also creates a more casual vibe, to foster communication better for bonding; i.e. the kind that isn’t totally work-centered, and thus, builds a strong, tight-knit community.
Mix it up
By including a variety of different spaces, users can constantly retain that nomadic feeling or simply hone in on their perfect work environment. Providing variation also fuels productivity. Research shows us that different personality types work more efficiently and are happier under different environments. Why not accommodate as many as possible?