10 Tips for Designing Your Coworking Space or Shared Workspace
As a coworking space operator, designing your workspace right is a vital part of starting out on the right foot. You can give yourself a vastly greater chance of success if you can offer a broad range of space and membership types to attract people with different financial means and workspace needs. (Satellite Deskworks makes this much easier through automatically tracking usage against different types of plans.)
1. Offer wifi and wired connections
Some people need a hardwired connection. Others, especially in open coworking areas, are fine with wifi. Offer both options to appeal to a broad range of professionals. (Remember, you can charge more for your spaces with hard-wired connections.)
2. Plan for storage in the design of your space
Some of your members will need locking storage. Others will have their whole world in their laptop or tablet. Offer locking storage options for those who want to store items at the space.
3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
As a workspace operator, you’re renting space from a landlord, making that commitment for a large space over a long period of time, and chopping it up into smaller bits on very short-term commitments.
In order for that to work financially, it’s very important that no one entity/member is responsible for too big a portion of your income. That way, if you lose one person or company, it’s not that big of an impact on your business. You stabilize your income by not relying too heavily on one or two entities.
4. Create a courtyard feel
One of the important design elements of a coworking space is a courtyard feel, with the open coworking area as your central hub. This creates a vibrancy in the space and prevents your private office members from being isolated. People are in a coworking center because they want vibrancy and connection, so avoid designing a space with long, dark hallways.
5. Create a welcoming/spacious-feeling center
Help people feel like they’re in an open, welcoming space while they’re in your workspace. One way is to add human elements, such as plants and art and a few comfy, cozy seating areas. Remember that you will have people working closely to each other, so be sure you’ve selected a space with high ceilings, typically 10-15 feet, especially in your open coworking area. High ceilings create a sense of space and openness and make it much more comfortable to work with less square footage per person.
6. Get your workspace dimensions right
To create an efficient, sustainable coworking space, you need to design for appropriate workspace dimensions. People will gravitate to the type of space and membership plan that gives them the room they need for how they have to (or like to) work. If you offer more types of space, you can attract more types of professionals. Here are the basic modules used in Satellite Workspace locations:
- Coworking station: 3-4 feet wide x 2 feet deep. The 2 foot dimension can be reduced down to 20-22 inches to leave more open space. (2 foot is a standard dimension, but if you’re making furniture, you can reduce this.) The smallest coworking area we’d recommend is 20 inches x 36 inches, if configured in a “library table” setup, with power down the middle of the table.
- Dedicated desk: 2 feet x 5 feet with locking storage. Dedicated desks typically include a small filing cabinet attached under the desk.
- Workstation: 6 feet x 6 feet: Workstations have locking storage and a hardwired connection. They also include a file cabinet underneath the desk and sometimes one cabinet overhead, as well. They should also be able to have a phone connected. For our Satellite locations, we like to custom design our workstations so they’re really beautiful, but you can buy pre-built cubes.
- Offices: Although you will frequently see smaller offices in coworking spaces, we work with 8’ x 10’ for a 1-2 person office and 10’ x 12’ for a 3-4 person office.. Team rooms, for larger groups, are important as well.
Reminder: Be sure to include a mix of workspace options. Offering all of the above is a good way to attract members of all types.
7. Know your furniture needs before shopping
Avoid shopping for workspace furniture before knowing what you’re looking for. Know the dimensions of what you need for each type of workspace and the distribution of workstations in your coworking space. You don’t want to buy furniture just because it looks good or you like it—you want to buy furniture that fulfills a specific need and purpose in your space — and also looks good.
8. Design for light in your coworking space
If you have an office with a window, you can charge a lot more for it. But, if you take all your windows for offices, you make your coworking area very unpleasant. Prioritize the distribution of light throughout your space to make every area appealing and bright.
Glass walls are great, but remember that people get offices because they want some privacy. Adding privacy film in an interesting pattern can keep your space light and open while giving people the privacy they want. (It also stops people from asking for different types of blinds or curtains that may not fit within the design look you want.)
9. Create a neighborhood feel with different areas
Try not to make just one big open space. You want people to feel like they’re in neighborhoods. Create areas with library rules and others where people can be noisier; create designated break areas; create designated kitchen areas. These things all add variety and work options for members. Note: Don’t forget to create space for your printer area, phone cubes and mailboxes.
10. Provide plenty of outlets
It’s very important in a workspace that your provide access to electricity everywhere. Members won’t stick around if they can’t conveniently keep their computers and devices charged. Be sure you have outlets anywhere someone may be sitting. Library-style tables make this a lot easier. The power can be run down the table, and many people in open coworking areas prefer this kind of seating.
For more information about designing your coworking space or other shared workspace, contact the Deskworks team. We’d be happy to advise.