Coworking has seen a sharp rise in popularity in the last half-decade, and for good reason. It’s basic concept makes more and more sense with each passing year as the economy of work strays further from the on-site corporate office v.s. working in your PJ’s from home model. It’s the comfy in-between that tends to catch people’s attention as they are looking for something to separate them from the traditional office environment, while at the same time retaining its positive qualities of social interaction, a daily change of environment and endless free coffee (obviously). However, the model of coworking is broad and the range of diverse options expands at a regular pace.
One key feature I’ve noticed with the more successful coworking spaces is the environmental set-up, or simply, the feng-shue. It seems like an obvious factor to take into consideration but you’d be surprised just how many spaces treat it as a secondary requirement or fail to meld comfort with spacial maximization. One word that continuously comes to mind when considering this is “deliberate”. As coworking spaces grow and evolves along with the rising demand of the service, one feature that is inherently challenging to keep up with is the deliberateness of the coworking layout. Take private desks for instance.
"Well, we’re at capacity on private desks but there’s clearly enough room to wedge another spare desk in that corner by the huge ficus plant and the water cooler, right?"
This is logical to a point and usually results in added memberships, a growing community culture and overall good times for all! The problem with this line of thinking, however, is the more you indulge in these behaviors, the less deliberately laid out your space eventually becomes, and believe me, it happens in tiny increments until you’re left with a mish-mashed frankenstien-esque space with no clear purpose aside from squeezing as many butts into awkwardly arranged seats as humanly possible.
So what’s the solution to this? Well, there are a few possible ways to avoid the tempting pitfalls of shoehorning your space’s growth. Setting your caps early and having a pre-determined plan for growth are two crucial ways to keep your space looking clean, organized and easy the eyes.
Instead of just waiting to hit your capacity, take a few hours when you have some downtime to walk around your space and really determine how hypothetical expansion is going to look. If you have 25 workstations and have found the perfect place for them, prepare for the possibility of needing to insert 10 extra desks down the road. Knowing your plan of attack ahead of time will obviously reduce the amount of guess work you’ll need to do when faced with a tricky desk finagling situation, but it will also positively reflect your spaces proficiency, professionalism and best of all, it’s flexibility. Coworkers LOVE flexibility and if you can show them that your willing move things around to make room for them, and better yet, do it in a stylish and efficient manner, you’ll have some pretty happy customers early on.
This may just be one guy’s suggestion, but I can guarantee that it comes from a humble place of being the one to fall into this design mishap all too often so believe me, I’ve been guilty of these coworking sins myself. I think it’s safe to say that just being aware of this occasional snafu is half the battle so hopefully this advice was helpful in that regard. Coworking is a growing industry and we're all trying to keep up with high demand while remaining true to our often freewheeling spirit. No need to loose our sexiness in the prossess ;)