One of the main benefits of co-working is the community that can develop around it. But how can you foster that atmosphere with your workspace design?
A co-working space is an excellent place for professionals from a range of different industries to establish themselves and become part of a wider business community. As the owner of such a location, one of your main challenges will be to make sure the layout and design of the workplace fosters this kind of collaborative atmosphere.
This is something that Steve Wainwright, co-founder of Leeds- based tech hub Future labs, knows a lot about. When he established his co-working space, the environment he wanted to create was one featuring a variety of workspaces that worked for everyone, as well as catering for how people’s needs differed throughout the day.
“We made sure that we had permanent desks that were comfortable and practical, then added higher level hotdesking which created a coffee bar feel alongside standing desks for those who didn’t want to sit down all day,” he said. “This gave a totally flexible working environment.”
This choice enables Futurelabs’ residents to vary their working style depending on how communal they wanted to be. If they want to knuckle down and complete a difficult project, they have space to do that. However, if they are less bogged-down they can take up residence at a hotdesk and become part of the co-working space’s community.
Further to this, Mr Wainwright made sure there were more relaxed spaces available. He said:
“We created breakout spaces with comfortable sofas, small rooms for private conversations and skype calls and a kitchen with coffee bar so that the environment offered something for everyone, whether they’re working, chatting or simply having a few moments to themselves.”
The key here is the range of options available. People are much less likely to socialise if they feel forced into it, so they have to have the freedom to privacy if they want it. A range of different working environments is a great way of accomplishing this.
Future labs has a spectrum of different workspaces, from the more serious to the casual, which caters for the needs and personalities of a range of different people. This is an example worth emulating, as it leads to a natural, organic community forming.