Photo on banner – curtesy of WeWork Melbourne.
Coworking spaces are gaining popularity as the rise of freelance work grows. These spaces offer communal facilities where professionals of various fields can work alongside each other, collaborate and share resources, thus creating a symbiotic relationship linked to a common workplace. Furthermore, it is theorized that freelancers with flexible work hours work better if surrounded by others. Co-working spaces offer an alternative to spending the nine-to-five in a dull desk cubicle.
When it comes to truly innovative interior design, coworking spaces must appeal to a number of delicate balancing acts. Office environments should foster productivity but also collaboration, appealing to both introverts and extroverts.
“Coworking spaces offer a wealth of advantages for self starters, including networking opportunities, daily structure, and increased productivity”. Read more about the benefits of coworking on this article of Wework.com
More than a trend, this phenomena is fueled by—and also helps drive—changes in work culture. Remote work and flexible working are becoming more common as technology advances and the corporate world modernizes. With this, coworking spaces aren’t only the realm of freelancers and entrepreneurs; they’re a thriving ecosystem involving remote enterprise teams, established companies in private offices, budding startups in brainstorming areas, and a variety of creatives and gig economy workers.Caitlin Bishop, Nine benefits of coworking spaces, We work.com
DESIGNING A COWORKING SPACE
So how to design a co-working space that doesn’t just look good, but is also optimised for its variety of users ? Here are some tips.
CHANGE OF SCENERY : A common theme when researching the many benefits of coworking is how the change of scenery can enhance creativity and performance in general. People seeking coworking spaces are often freelancing in the hopes of avoiding cubicle offices and monotone spaces. In addition, working from home as opposed to a coworking space can be detrimental, as there is no scenery change or separation between home and work, which can lead to feelings of isolation and creative blocks. Achieving a change of scenery inside a coworking space is ideal, as the user doesn’t have to leave the premises, thus breaking their focus.
SOCIALIZATION : Designing socialization spaces where users can mingle and share ideas is key for peak performance. These spaces should encourage gathering facilitators, such as open kitchen plans where users can take coffee breaks; sitting areas where users can either take breaks or work with their peers in a more relaxed environment; communal desks where users can work elbow-to-elbow with others, thus creating a sense of community even if they’re working in different fields.
MIXED USE OF SPACES: One coworking space can house a wide variety of professionals, each with different space requirements and needs for privacy. One user can shift their spatial needs drastically throughout the day, depending on their state of mind and the task at hand. To cater to each of these needs, a holistically designed coworking space must consider different levels of privacy for its users, ranging from private office spaces to open plan communal spaces.
NATURE – BIOPHILIC DESIGN: Nature can come in the form of greenery, natural light and other natural elements described in depth by the Biophilic Design trend. Greenery can be included as a visual decoration, carefully arranged inside the project, or through a visual connection with an internal patio or natural surroundings.
4 OPEN SPACES: Open spaces allow for layout flexibility, which can be useful as users may want to rearrange their working space for various activities.
Here are some examples of co-working spaces that will want to make you quit your job and become a freelancer. Jokes aside, here are some amazing interiors that check all of the point listed above.
1 . BIG AND TINY BY ZOOCO ETUDIO
A kids’ play area is included in this co-working space in Santa Monica designed by Spanish firm Zooco Estudio, so its members can bring their children to work.
Big and Tiny is among the first co-working facilities in the US to offer onsite childcare. The company was founded by an entrepreneur who is a mother with the aim to empower parents by helping them integrate their personal and professional lives.
Photo curtesy of Big and Tiny
Designed by Award Winning “Zooco Estudio”, the place features a high ceiling with a series of wood-bow trusses used as an organizational device for three separate areas: a cafe-cum-shop, a kids’ play area and a work zone. “Using the original truss ceiling as an example of a universal geometric language, we created a repetitive modular and constructive system that reminds us of a puzzle,” said Zooco Estudio.
2. ANTWERP CO-WORKING SPACE BY GOING EAST
The Fosbury & Sons Co-Work Offices designed by Belgian studio Going East in Antwerp, Belgium, does an excellent job of creating different atmospheres in the same building, allowing users to hop from one scenery to the next without interrupting their workflow.
The new co-working space fills 3,000 square metres on the first floor of Antwerp’s WATT Tower, a 1958 building by modernist architect Léon Stynen. Going East wanted the space, which includes a mezzanine level, to have a surprising flow that would encourage creativity and break up the usual monotony of working in an office.
Photo curtesy of Fosbury anf sons
In a reference to New York’s famous elevated park, the interior designers looked to create a “High Line-like feeling” where “you can take different types of walks and discover something new each time”. To achieve this, they created an assortment of different formal and informal working spaces, including amphitheatre-style stair seating, a mid-century-styled meeting room and one nook with a daybed.
“Here you can pause at the bar during a ‘walk’, work at the plants, sit in the library, lie down in the Aster seat, enjoy the view on the steps,” said Going East co-founder Anaïs Torfs. “That freedom is important.”
Created to host a mixture of small businesses, entrepreneurs and “digital nomads”, Fosbury & Sons is the latest in a string of flexible, communal spaces opening around the globe to cater to an increasingly self-employed workforce.
3 THOMS HOUSE COWORKING BY SODA
Architecture studio Soda looked to “rigorous” layout of Regency-era squares to create this contemporary co-working space in central London, which features a roof terrace, gym and drinks bar.
Thomas House is situated on a corner block in Victoria and takes its name from Thomas Cubitt, a British master builder recognised for his development of several streets in the area in the 1800s.
Photographer: Gareth Gardner
The space has been designed for The Office Group (TOG), who specialise in the creation of flexible work spaces and already have a host of properties across the city, in locations including Kings Cross, Oxford Circus and Shoreditch.
Coworking is more than just renting a desk in an office. It’s about providing a network of people an opportunity to work differently so they are inspired to come to an office building. If you design your coworking space with that in mind, you will keep your members happy and satisfied.