One of the great benefits of the amazing advances in technology over the last couple of decades has been the ability for many of us to work from anywhere. This has led not only to traditional office personnel working from home, but has fueled the rise of the “gig economy” and entrepreneurs able to conduct business anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection (which is why you can’t get a seat at Starbucks, but that’s a different topic).
The downside of that newfound freedom has been the loss of some degree of human interaction and engagement. It’s great that we can connect from anywhere, but on some level we have to connect with other human beings as well.
Enter the shared workspace or, more commonly, the coworking space. Coworking spaces are typically suites, and sometimes entire buildings, that feature individual offices for lease by unrelated businesses. Usually the individual offices are accompanied by open-plan, shared work areas, and often there are conference rooms available for tenants as well. Some arrangements even feature a common receptionist/admin person to greet visitors, schedule appointments for tenants and so on.
There are solid reasons for this blossoming trend: a Harvard Business Review article notes that people who belong to shared work environments thrive at a higher level than those in traditional offices, and find their work more meaningful as well.
While shared workspaces can give the solo entrepreneur an air of credibility in the form of a physical space and a mailing address (besides that Starbucks location), they’re often used by employees of traditional firms who need a remote location, maybe on the other side of town from the home office. And one of the reasons people thrive is because of an environment where they can interact with others who aren’t competing for the same clients or the next promotion. Collaboration and sharing of ideas happen organically, especially if the design is conducive to that.
For that reason, the design of a successful coworking space should put a great deal of emphasis on the common areas to make them inviting and engaging. After all, collaboration is much more likely if tenants can flop down for a few minutes and compare notes. It’s not unusual to see everything from beanbags to sofas to stand-up tables and desks in well-designed coworking environments. The resimercial furniture trend is tailor-made to work well in shared spaces.
Interested in design ideas for a shared or coworking space? Contact the design experts at Douron.