How to Design a Coworking Space

2019-11-19T15:48:06+00:00June 30th, 2015|Workplace Design|

One of the most interesting aspects of designing a coworking space is understanding what exactly draws people to a location. During my first few months interacting with coworking spaces, I was under the impression that what sold a space came down to price and location. I assumed people flocked to coworking spaces to escape the high city rent and constant congestion. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Coworking spaces are much more than a price tag and convenience: they’re a community of individuals looking for a home away from home. That’s right—the most important part of a coworking space is in fact, the space.

Perfect for an open environment, Bivi Tables for Two connect together to create a group of desks for easy collaboration. Also pictured, Bivi Trunk Hanging Storage and Steelcase Leap Office Chairs.

Design – It Can Make or Break a Space

As a preface, I work with coworking managers and the individuals that occupy these spaces on a daily basis. In fact, during the month of October alone, I managed to speak to roughly 400 coworking spaces. During all my time working with and at coworking spaces, what has always stood out to me is how much people value comfort and community. In fact it’s so important, that when you poll individuals and small teams, price is often one of the (if not the) least important aspect considered when people choose a coworking space.

People who flock to coworking spaces are looking for an environment different from their home. They’re searching for a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, and as a host, it is your job to design this environment. Common traits of successful coworking spaces:

  • Flexibility Provide individuals places to meet, make phone calls and work in peace, while simultaneously allowing for areas that create the opportunity for individuals to come together and converse.
  • Breakout Spaces Include communal coffee areas, group lunch tables, relaxation rooms, and social events to allow employees the chance to unwind and take a break.
  • Community Remember, when someone tours a coworking space, they’re most often not looking for a price tag, they’re looking for a cohesive, welcoming environment for all types of work (and fun). You need to design and deliver just that.
The modern elegance of Shortcut X Base Chairs brings comfort and style to collaborative spaces.

Make Your Members Excited to Come to Work

There’s a strange issue that plagues a number of coworking spaces, and that is inactivity of their members. It’s common for members to come into an office 3-4 days a week and work from home the rest of the time. But what happens when they become more inactive? This is generally a symptom of an uninspiring work environment.

People come to coworking spaces to escape the routine of their home, yet it is so easy to fall back into the lull that is the home office. That is why it is your job to keep them coming in to enjoy your space. In order to keep a vibrant, lively community, it is pivotal you:

  • Stimulate Create the most beautiful, comfortable, and energizing place possible.
  • Evoke Fun Think outside the box with game rooms, fun details (slides, anyone?) and murals that cover the walls.
  • Inspire Think of your freelancers. They depend on inspiration for their work!
  • Motivate Don’t skimp on accessibility and intentional efforts to create a vibrant environment.
Bivi Dual Height Desks allow employees to choose their preferred height for focused work. For a relaxing lounge space, add Bivi Rumble Seat with Campfire Paper Table and Buoy Stools.

Mix Things Up—and Often

Taking a cue from Liz Elam of Link Coworking, an excellent way to keep people interested and motivated at your space is to constantly re-design and mix up the decor. As she’s previously stated:

“[By mixing up the space] I’m trying to help people be as productive as they can be by keeping things fresh and bringing great energy into a space so that they will never feel in a rut.”

Aside from creating an inspiring environment, it’s vital to have a selection of furniture and decorative pieces that can be rotated on a regular basis. Include spaces specifically designed for:

  • Collaboration: use lounge furniture to give team members a casual, comfortable place to come together.
  • Socialization: adding ping pong tables, gaming systems and dart boards give people a way to unwind throughout the day.
  • Privacy: make it easy for people to find nooks, reserve rooms and locate phone booths for personal calls or sensitive discussions.
  • Quiet: whether lounge settings, traditional desks or standing height tables, don’t forget to plan spaces where focused work can happen without disruptions. Situate these areas far from the fun and collaboration spaces where volume typically rises.

Coworking is more than a desk in a building full of workers. It’s about building a community that inspires people to come to work, and keeps them happy, inspired and productive. It’s your job as the individual, manager or team to design a space to keep them that way. Furniture, design, decor, and thoughtful space planning are integral to creating a perfect environment for your members to enjoy.

Need help with designing an inspiring and productive coworking space? Get in touch with our space designers who will walk you through each step from start to finish.

Guest author Connor Provines works as the Operational Manager at Share Your Office. Learn more about Share Your Office.