Transforming a traditional office space into a modern co-working space boils down to two key principles: ensuring functionality and applying good design.
While regular office space generally adopts a one-size fits-all approach, co-working operators focus much more on how a space lives and breathes, on how it’ll be used day-to-day, and on how it can help its users to be more productive.
In a highly competitive market, co-working spaces must look good, too. And so, creating a co-working office space is not as simple as adding a few fiddle-leaf figs and a bright mural to a tired old office building.
It’s an art form of sorts – and one that’s increasingly being perfected by both multi-national and small, independent co-working space operators, which are disrupting the commercial property market in major Australian cities by reinventing outdated office blocks as vibrant co-working spaces.
From just 60 in 2013, there are now more than 300 co-working spaces across Australia – and there’s little to suggest that the proliferation of these flexible offices will slow down in the months and years ahead.
Soren Trampedach, the founder and chairman of Work Club Global – which has sites in Sydney and Melbourne that are both known for their chic style – says any office space, traditional or co-working, has to be functional for all those who use it.
Design comes secondary and is the easy part, according to Trampedach.
“Work Club do what traditional offices could implement in their own office, too: create the possibility for team members to move around the space effortlessly throughout the day to suit their mood and activity, [rather than] be chained to the same desk, day in, day out,” he says.
When taking a traditional office space and turning it into a contemporary co-working space, Trampedach says materials and products should be selected carefully and replaced at least every three years.
He recommends investing in real timber, leather, copper, marble … real everything. “It is grounding and provides a sense of wellbeing when you’re in such an environment,” he says.
That said, Trampedach warns against giving interior designers free reign to choose their favourite colours and products. Instead, he says the brief should be to create something timeless
In Work Club’s case, this advice translates to the repeated use of solid timber floors, Australian-made steel partitions and raw leather on all furniture items and some fixtures.
While no two sites are exactly the same, these “signature design elements” weave a chic common thread through the brand’s impressive workspaces.