Although the people that generally occupy coworking spaces have much in common, a huge design mistake is forgetting that everyone within the space has their own preferences as to when, how and where they work. Creating a harmonious environment in a shared office is about catering to those preferences while achieving the right balance. Here are five things you’ll find in every successful coworking space.
- USE A VARIETY OF SURFACES AND MATERIALS TO SUIT PERSONAL PREFERENCES
Wander through a Japanese garden and you’ll find a lot of complexity within its simple, yet calming appearance. When designing My Byward Office, I took a lot of cues from the design elements of Japanese gardens, combining stone, metal, earth and wood surfaces. It comes together to create a harmonius environment, but it also allows people to choose an area that suits their unique prefereces.
- ENSURE THAT PEOPLE HAVE ENOUGH PERSONAL SPACE
Figuring out how many people the space should accommodate was strictly a mathematical calculation, but a simple rule to stick to around personal space is that most people need around five and a half feet of space to feel comfortable. If you’re sitting at your desk and can reach out and touch someone, you’re too close.
- IT MATTERS WHAT DIRECTION PEOPLE ARE FACING
Remember that feeling in school when you were sure that the person sitting behind you was looking over your shoulder during a test? It doesn’t help productivity. At My Byward Office, we have a large raised desk in the middle of the room. It took a lot of planning to figure out the correct height, so that people sitting along the perimeter of the room didn’t feel as though they were being constantly monitored. There should be a mix of workspaces that face each other, and face apart. That allows people to collaborate when they need to, and to focus on individual work when its time for that as well.
- CHOOSE A SPACE WITH LOTS OF NATURAL LIGHT
Sunlight is key. The facing of the sun is absolutely instrumental and the reason why I chose the site My Byward Office currently occupies, because it allowed you to have sunlight throughout the day. I also opened up a large segment of the wall and exposed the structural beams to allow light to penetrate the space throughout the day. People don’t like to work in the dark, or to have their desk eaten by a shadow every afternoon.
- INVEST IN QUALITY FURNISHINGS
You need to put a lot of thought into making your cowork space a beautiful and inspiring space to work. You can have a cool and chic workspace, but the additional layer of how we work, the design, the textures, the environment, all needed to be fit together. And for me, I didn’t want to work at an IKEA desk. All of the pieces at My Byward Office are designer. The desks are all Herman Miller or Blu Dot designs … all the chairs are Herman Miller and ergonomically designed and comfortable, and everything had been designed to be clean and efficient. The quality of the furnishing impacts your psyche and how you work. People can appreciate the attention to detail, to make sure that every element of the space was thoughtfully curated to facilitate work, play and social activity. People need to want to come to work each and everyday; a coworking space needs to offer an experience they can’t already get at home.