How Do We Work | Co-working Space Design Tips
Having recently viewed the latest WeWork office design in the city, it’s left me with a lot of questions. Yes, it is providing commercial workspace for those not yet ready to venture out on their own. And in some cases, even for established companies happy to co-locate. However, is this co-working space design ticking all of the boxes?
On face value, the first impression of the WeWork floors is very positive. Compared to some others I’ve seen in the CBD and suburbs, it’s by far a more developed concept. From dedicated offices to personal desks and shared hot desks, all bases appear to be covered. But when it comes to creative co-working space design, what key factors make it a financially viable solution? And basically, what makes it a good place to work?
Face value doesn’t always deliver success
A Flexible Co-working Office Layout
Obviously, the more flexible any shared office space is, the easier it will be to fill. I’ve recently seen dedicated offices that accommodate 8-10 people and even one that has capacity for 105. Wow, was my first thought but on closer inspection, the wow turned into a ‘really?’ Every office should be designed to fit full size functioning work areas. Not tiny desks that don’t offer practical work surfaces, positioned edge-to-edge with no sense of one’s own space.
Likewise, designing a co-working space should allow for an easy conversion from an 8 person capacity upwards and downwards. This could be achieved with operable walls or screens that can be easily re-positioned to suit various occupancy sizes. While the outlay may be more than you expected to begin with, this flexibility will more than pay for itself.
Realistic co-working space design
Following on from my point above, what fills a co-working layout should be functional, practical and very real. Hot desks are a great, cost effective solution for people who want to periodically work in a commercial office environment. It meets most modern co-working space design principles. But would you place hot desks that people pay for, adjacent to a noisy breakout area? It may suit the outwardly sociable or not so easily distracted. But will you be able to put bums on these seats every day?
Similarly, given multiple start-ups will be co-working alongside each other, acoustics really need to be considered. This can be as simple as having the right finishes on floors, walls, and furniture. Hard surfaces such as timber and concrete may be on trend but they definitely lower acoustic levels. The inclusion of desktop screens will help absorb louder voices and these days, they can be very decorative. And for the very loud, there are trendy acoustic booths they can yell within until they turn blue.
With many people sharing a work environment, it still needs to be a practical working environment.
And perhaps office etiquette should be promoted wherever possible.
Supporting your co-working interior design
So, you have a flexible and realistic co-working layout ready to go. But, have you thought about what needs to support these busy spaces? And this is aside from your administration area that acts like the brain of the business. Basically, every person paying for a desk or office will have certain expectations of amenities they can access.
This can range from simple phone services and copy facilities to meeting rooms with extensive AV installations. Furthermore, some people may require secure storage and some will have a focus on end-of-trip.
You can’t please everyone but if you stick to the basics, you can’t go wrong.
Kitchen facilities and breakout spaces are vital to every co-working office layout. They don’t have to offer beer on tap and they shouldn’t be filled with appliances that people can’t use. Keep these communal areas friendly, inviting and fun but don’t scrimp on the practical. And keep in mind that you’ll need to have storage for supplies that are distributed throughout the co-working environment.
Looking at the WeWork example, it has definitely opened up working options for many people which is brilliant. And given they have 341 locations globally, there is obviously a call for this style of commercial space.
But will this trend continue? As of November this year, this global mammoth has cut 2,400 staff from the payroll in order to stabilise the business. Did they get it right to begin with?
Perhaps on a small, easier to manage scale, co-working interiors can achieve success. So, do I think co-working space is the way of the future? For some yes but for most, until the winning formula is found, I believe the answer is no.