A good friend completed the London Marathon. Before the race, she confided that her busy schedule had only allowed her to run a maximum of 16 miles in any one session. She was worried that she wouldn’t have the stamina to complete the distance. A full marathon is, of course 26 miles. Ten full miles short of what she had ever run.
These final ten miles were the toughest of her life. What got her across the line was the fact that she was not alone. There were others with her who were experiencing the same physical and mental pain and what manifested was a unique type of empathy that produced super human abilities.
Doing something extraordinary is easier when you’re doing it with others and running a business is no different.
A Coworking space can provide the antidote to loneliness and a support network where struggles and successes are shared. But creating this environment doesn’t happen by itself.
To achieve the right feeling, careful and meticulous design along with a curated community will play a part.
Design For The Working Day
Great design is the main port of call. Consider the flow of the space along with the provision of options to match various tasks. With this in mind, the productive completion of different work tasks are best achieved in environments that correspond to the task.
Consider a typical working day or week. It might comprise of a meeting with colleagues or a client along with some focus work on a project with a deadline. There may also be more casual work needed such as research or data entry as well as informal engagement with other team members.
For “heads down” work there should be space where members can focus without distraction. This requires a workstation for each person designed to provide sense of independence and privacy from others that may be sharing the space. Workers could be spending up to 8 hours in this space so professional office chairs, natural light and an outdoor view to give the eye a break are all important.
For more casual working, consider a lounge style area with more relaxed seating such as banquette seating and arm chairs. This type of space can double up as a casual meeting space for two or three people. You might also pipe in some relaxing music which can really help to get the vibe right. Music also helps to mask voices engaged in sensitive conversations from others in the same space.
For client meetings a formal meeting room set up will work best, but consider a design approach that fits in with how people want to meet in 2021. This could mean more informality which can be achieved by some soft furnishings and plants to take the edge off the sharp lines of the boardroom table. Social distancing will be here for some time to come so consideration for the maintenance of personal space will need to be included within the design.
Team meetings work well in the casual spaces and meeting rooms, but ideally a type of third space could be created with a nice mix of high seating to encourage engagement along with some casual and more informal seating to help foster the sharing of thoughts and ideas.
Also remember that at some point in the day closed door privacy will be needed. This could be for confidentiality purposes or simply for those that need or prefer their own private space for intense focus work. Every building has it’s unused nooks and these can be repurposed to a phone booth or a private focus room with great success.
Finally consider that the office worker in 2021 wants flexibility and office space on-demand or on-demand workspace is becoming the mainstream requirement. Great office designs will facilitate this by providing an instant welcoming feel.
A shout out to our designers: When we refurbished 20 Harcourt Street we wanted to achieve all of the above. After a long search we connected with Joanne Kelly from Dublin based interior design and interior architecture practice Think Contemporary. Joanne shared our vision for elevating the Dublin Coworking scene and together with her exceptional eye for design and her ninja project management skills, Office Suites Club was born.
Creating The Community
In many ways the design of a space will prompt its community. A professional and formal style tends to attract a white collar membership base, typically from the traditional the professions such as finance, legal and accountancy. A more fun design tends to bring in creatives and start ups seeking something different and reflective of their own brands. Branding will also play a large part of who is attracted to the space and it also impacts on how members choose to be viewed by their peers, clients, potential employees and investors.
The member facing team and center managers will also assist in setting the tone so training in brand values will be critical. When developing our concept, we took our time choosing the right people who would share and promote our brand values from both a customer service and an operational perspective.
A coworking space can be considered as a gym for your mind where all you need do is look up and see your comrades fighting the same fight as you. It can also be a rich knowledge pool where you can bounce ideas off others from completely different disciplines – a ready made outside the box approach.
Dublin city has truly embraced coworking and the new hybrid work model. We’re excited to find out what happens next.