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How to design a co-working space

A co-working space is very different to a traditional office, and it can be a lot of fun to design one.

However, it is vital that your space appeals to a broad range of users, and provides the functional elements necessary to do business.

Siren Design did the fit-out for award-winning Melbourne space The Commons, so we asked the company’s manager director Nicole Pollak for some tips on how to design a great co-working space.

Co-working space design

Co-working spaces typically have more interesting design features than traditional offices. Picture: Austin Distel/Unsplash

1. Create a community

In order to be successful, a good co-working office will need to bring together plenty of strangers and allow them to work together comfortably.

Offering a diverse range of spaces, such as hot desks, offices and boardrooms, will help create this cohesive work environment. But Pollak says it’s important not to forget other less recognised elements that encourage community and collaboration.

One of these elements is ‘bump spaces’. These are areas within the office that get people spontaneously bumping into each other and starting conversations. They could be a central stairway, communal kitchen, designated dining area, or a fun space with a ping pong table.

Consider what will best suit your members and your set-up. And remember to balance these social elements with quiet areas for people who need to focus.

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2. Know your audience

Not all co-working spaces are the same. Smart operators understand that they need to target a defined audience to be successful, and this should be reflected in the design.

Pollak says every space should look different, in line with the type of businesses it hopes to attract. Corporate companies prefer offices that have a more professional vibe, for example, while freelancers and designers typically want more creative elements and cutting-edge interiors.

Office design

Your office design should be tailored to your users and include areas that encourage spontaneous interaction. Picture: Proxyclick Visitor Management System/Unsplash

3. Think about the reception

The foyer isn’t always the first area that springs to mind when designing a co-working space. But for potential members and their clients, the entryway offers the first impression of the office.

Pollak says operators can focus on décor and choose to maximise convenience and profit by installing a digital sign-in. This technology will also provide security, visitor data analytics, and out-of-hours access.

Alternatively, for spaces catering to the corporate sector, a professional reception area may be preferred – though this will add to your overheads.

4. Include office essentials

While co-working is meant to be fun, you can’t ignore the boring features that are vital to a functioning workplace.

Internet access should be at the top of the list. You need to offer strong Wi-Fi and, in some cases, hardwired access.

Even though we live in an increasingly paperless world, many workers still need access to printers and scanners, too. This is especially important when you have dedicated desks for corporate companies.

Storage is also essential for unique businesses and clients using hot desks. As are parking, stationery supplies, and delivery access.

Finally, make sure you get the dimensions of your workspaces right, so that people aren’t squeezed together like sardines, or pushed so far apart they feel like they’ve been exiled.

Office design

Your office should ideally be designed in a way that makes it easy to move things around. Picture: Venveo/Unsplash

5. Offer flexibility

Adapting your design to meet major client’s needs without compromising the comfort of other users is crucial.

Start-ups often scale up very quickly, or need to increase the space they use for a short period of time. To accommodate this, some co-working operators install demountable walls, keep additional furniture in storage, and position electrical fittings throughout the building, so that they can reconfigure the layout when necessary.

Alternatively, if you stick with a set floor plan, be sure to offer a range of different work environments. That way, your design will work for everyone.

Looking for the perfect co-working design? Visit Spacely to see what other operators are doing.

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