Co-Working: The Future of Small Business Workspace
The concept of co-working spaces originally started on the West Coast in the mid-2000’s, driven by tech-focused start-ups. Breaking through the traditional, cubicle, 9-5 mindset has started to spread geographically and across industries. We now see a wide variety of professionals sitting alongside the traditional coders, web developers, and freelance designers within a co-working space. And co-working isn’t just for individual users, you can also find entire companies within the same walls. This environment and concept is perfect for small start-ups or people who work remote.
When compared to finding a traditional office space, a co-working space has a lot to offer:
- Low-cost, flexible model – offering a start-up something they couldn’t afford while they are just getting going with short-term commitments and simple leases.
- Community of like-minded people – broadening your connections within your community and increasing chances for collaboration outside of your current organization.
- Change of scenery – something new and refreshing from the common office or home office setting to spark creativity.
- Hive-Mentality – some comforts of home while providing the connectivity and convenience of an office.
When it comes to the design of an effective, efficient, and successful environment, there are several elements to keep in mind that are specific and unique to co-working:
- Flexibility – Choose furniture that can be pulled together and scooted around easily, increasing the ability for users to create their own private work area or group collaboration spaces. Also think about elements of the space that could benefit from having movable walls – like an area that could be a small conference room by day but then open into one big room by night. A stage in the middle of a large room is a great example of an area that could be used two totally different ways. Also make sure your furniture is sized appropriately – you’d like to have room for a keyboard, monitor, monitor, keyboard so that people can work across from each other.
- Definition of Space – You will need a variety of work environments in a co-working space to properly accommodate for the variety of users. This could mean suites for larger groups of people within one company, small and large conference rooms, private booths, open spaces with pockets of different furniture, and the list could go on. You will want to provide structure so that people can use the space in ways that are best for them on any given day. A user may need to focus privately by themselves one day and then chat in small groups the next.
- Atmosphere – You want this type of space to feel homey, cozy, and relaxed. Bring in a mix of furniture you’d find in your living room, local artwork, and finishes you’d use in your own home. Keep in mind that most of your users will be from different types of backgrounds and cultures, so it is important to create a space welcoming to all. Creating a “coffee shop” or “café” space within the building can help to define an area as highly conversational, organically creating a separation from the “quiet zones” and a social hub without having to set strict rules.
- Technology – This may be the most important, but most often forgotten aspect of co-working! The building needs to be equipped with the highest internet speed possible, tech that allows for video conferencing, and pervasive wi-fi coverage for user mobility. Work cannot go on without technology to support the people within the space.
- Events – while the day-to-day business of a co-working space is the steady income, having a space that is available for large meetings, community events, and other functions (i.e.: weddings – you’d be surprised, but it happens!) will provide an additional stream of income as well as introduce a whole new group of people to your business. And experiencing the space in person is a much better way to attract new users than any other form of marketing you can do.
If you are thinking of taking the plunge and opening or renovating a co-working space, feel free to reach out to us!