How the Rise Of Co-Working Space Is Affecting Workplace Designs
While the newly-coined term “Coworking” hasn’t yet reserved a spot in the pages of Merriam-Webster, there is no doubt that the word is in high rotation in today’s industry-speak. It has been defined as “The use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically so as to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge” and “The whole idea of coworking is to bring bright, creative people together and let the ideas collide.”
And even if you’ve never heard it, odds are that you’re familiar with the practice and have probably even dabbled in it yourself. You’re an independent consultant and like to change up the work routine. Or your company closed its doors and transitioned its worker to go home-based. What do you do? You take your business to your favorite local coffee shop, bakery, or library. Maybe you even take it to a luxury-appointed office space designed expressly for what we call “Coworking.” It’s the new thing, and it’s the epitome of modern office design. The environment is bright. It’s airy. It’s sleek, modern, and is equipped with all of the amenities, complete with beverages and snacks. You may even meet someone new and lay the groundwork for some new business-to-business opportunities. It’s the ultimate in open workplace design, and it makes sense.
With real estate prices on the rise, office space is at a premium. Combine that with evolving technology, and there’s little need for the average employee to dedicate 40+ hours per week to work from an assigned central office. Or is there?
In growing numbers, companies are providing their employees the option to telecommute part or full time. It’s a trend that continues to gain popularity, as it allows employees to keep an eye on the home, save on fuel expenses, reduce the wear and tear on their vehicle, run errands on their lunch hour, and even reduces the amount of time their kids spend in daycare. Overall, it provides a much more desirable work-life balance and ranks high in employee satisfaction.
With all of these selling points, the practice is gaining traction and has even turned more than a few centralized offices into veritable corporate graveyards. When faced with declining onsite attendance, many businesses have made the decision to trim the real estate fat (so to speak), and designate a portion of their workforce to go strictly home-based, or assign shared workspaces utilized in shifts or alternate days.
It seems like a win-win, right? Well mostly. Depending on the nature of the work, some tasks can’t be performed as efficiently away from the office. Others find it hard to stay disciplined at home or in a coffee shop. And sometimes there’s just no replacement for an in-person, all hands on deck brainstorming session when it comes to new ideas or project team meetings.
For those equally-compelling reasons, other businesses have assessed the value in retaining a dedicated onsite workforce. And how does a business compete with the allure of working remotely full time? Well, they adopt a modern workplace design. They harness the attributes that are turning heads in the other direction. Like urban coworking spaces, they make their offices a place their employees want to be. It’s more than an office design trend; it’s here to stay. Here are some ideas about how they are doing it:
Offer Amenities, such as:
- Gourmet Coffee & Tea
- Free Snacks (including fresh fruit)
- Gym Membership
- Ride Share options or Commuter Credits
- The option to work from home occasionally, like once per week.
Redesign the office.
Could part of the reason why employees haven’t been making the trek into the workplace be that they are just plain tired of the tired old office design? Fluorescent lighting, tall cubicle walls, and bland carpet are things of the past. Modernize your office to emulate some of those sleek, trendy urban workspaces and perhaps work won’t feel so much like work—but rather, a living, breathing, exciting enterprise.
- Lighting: Revamp your lighting to a system that soothes, flatters, and energizes. When people look in the mirror and look great, they feel great.
- Open workplace design: Open things up, but not too open. Not many like to feel enclosed, but not everyone wants to be staring directly at someone from three feet away. Swap out the tall, claustrophobic, opaque partitions for shorter panels of frosted glass, or perhaps plants, which offer a touch of privacy without going overboard.
- Ceiling: Ditch the drab drop panel ceiling and select something unusual and complementary to the rest of your decor. Employees don’t want to feel like they’re in a cave and never get to see the light of day.
- Provide Comfortable seating so they aren’t counting the hours until the end of their shift.
- If you are opting for a “Satellite Office” with flex work seating, consider installing long, sleek tables suitable for plugging right in.
- Bring the outdoors in by utilizing as much natural light as possible, and placing natural plants around the office.
- Pops of color and texture creates a fun environment that doesn’t feel like the message is all work and no play. A tile backsplash in the kitchen. A subtle design in the carpet. Oversized pillows in the waiting area.
- Designate a room or a couple of zones for employees to have fun and unwind when they need to step away from their desk for a few minutes. Have a reading nook. Or bring a ping pong table. Foster a fun environment to keep morale up.
A few perks and pinch flair go a long way toward employee inspiration and employee satisfaction.
Not sure where to start? Contact D2 Office Furniture + Design. We house a showroom for modern & classic office furniture & storage items, and have a staff of workplace planning & design professionals who are eager to assist in your next renovation.