You've signed your lease or purchased your building, and now it's time to start planning out the look and feel of your coworking space. Getting this right is critical — it will shape how your tenants can use your space, and what future growth will look like.
Ideally, you'll be collaborating with an architect or designer to plan out your space. Even so, you'll still need to guide their efforts to ensure that the end result is aligned with your tenants' needs. Here's what to consider.
Connectivity Is King
Coworking spaces may take some cues from traditional commercial offices, but they differ in their need for flexibility and high-density, tech-oriented working. Your architect should know to:
- Wire for fiberoptic.
Consistent and reliable up-time is a must. Invest in the fastest, up-grade flexible and most secure internet pipe possible, and give users the option to plug in or work over wifi.
- Add more electrical outlets.
You can never have too many electrical outlets. Tech companies, in particular, will be running multiple devices and will need all the outlets you can offer. Being generous with outlets helps you accommodate them and reduces the risk of overloaded power strips.
- Install top-down cabling.
Arrange for cables and outlets to be wired from the ceiling rather than the walls. This reduces trip hazards and gives you flexibility even if you decide to move desks around at a later point.
Mix Up Your Space
Coworking spaces are all about flexibility, that's why they exist in the first place. When outfitting your space, design for configurability and user choice. While your full-timers may be happy with a spot at a desk bank, varied seating options and stylized work "zones" will appeal to those who want to mix things up. Plus they make for easy moving and reconfiguring as your tenant base changes. Have your architect design options for:
- Traditional banks of desks with personal lockers
- Individual "hot desks"
- Beanbag and cushion seating
- Airport-style lounges
- Lounge seating or cafe seating with work areas
- Phone booths or small open meeting s
- Flexible group work and meeting areas
- Event and meeting spaces - flexible configurations
- Transition space - one space (kitchen) that flows into open space
Alternatives To Open Plan
Open plan working offers both configurability and visibility. But your tenants will need options for meetings, "quiet time" and even private phone calls. Your architect should consider:
- Board rooms and meeting rooms. Your tenants will need somewhere to hold company and client meetings. Offer a variety of meeting rooms to accommodate this. Unlike traditional office spaces, these don't necessarily need "window" views. Save the sunlight for your tenants! Do keep them close to the reception so you don't have people constantly trekking through your space. Make sure they have the technology to conduct their businesses and make sure the technology is user friendly.
- "Quiet" rooms. Sometimes tenants just need some quality thinking time. Plan for a few small "booths" to give your tenants an option to get away from the chit-chat associated with an open plan office space.
- Phone booths. Privacy (and soundproofing) matters. A separate phone booth gives tenants a place to take sensitive or private calls. Plus they're a fun design moment.
- Company offices. Some tenants may grow to a point that they need their own space but still want to take advantage of the relatively low overheads of a coworking space. If you have the room, consider building out some separate offices to lease out for a "company" fee.
If you're going to thrive in the coworking market, you need to hit it out of the park with your work-adjacent offerings. Comfortable tenants are happy tenants. Your architect should consider:
Your tenants will break at different times, so set aside a decent-sized space and include community-friendly furnishings. A large fridge, food preparation spaces, plenty of silverware and a dishwasher are all recommended.
- Bathrooms (with showers).
Keep bathrooms out of the space and ideally in a common area. Showers are a good idea if you have tenants who ride to work or who work long hours if these are not available in a building workout facility.
- Lighting & HVAC.
Let your tenants work in comfort. Install quality commercial-grade lighting with LED bulbs to keep electrical costs down, and install HVAC throughout the premises with thermostats in meeting rooms to keep everyone happy.
- Entrance and reception.
Build out a quality reception area to greet tenants and guests. Equip it with essential networking and space for printers, scanners and mail collection.
- Bike storage.
Your space may have on-site bike storage, but if not it's a good idea to install some yourself. Secure spaces in common areas are often a good option for bike storage and help avoid grime being tracked in.
- Floor/wall coverings.
Polished concrete or hardwoods look great, but they're noisy. Opt for soft floor and wall coverings to assist with sound proofing. If you do have hard floors, invest in rugs or carpet squares in high-traffic areas.
Keep the above in mind, and you'll have a user-friendly workspace flexible enough to grow and evolve with your tenant base.
Planning a coworking space and need some expert advice? Get in touch!