Co-Working Office Design considerations.

Following on from my post aimed at making you think about what your co-working site would look like, here’s more on the design. What assumptions are you making with your co-working design? Are you making it open plan or cubicles? Are there going to be areas for privacy? LaunchPad, a co-working site due to open … Continue reading “Co-Working Office Design considerations.”

Following on from my post aimed at making you think about what your co-working site would look like, here’s more on the design. What assumptions are you making with your co-working design? Are you making it open plan or cubicles? Are there going to be areas for privacy?

LaunchPad, a co-working site due to open in Austin, TX this September are happily showing off their floorplans interestingly enough with some evolution of the design. You have to wonder at the ‘ceiling’ they have planned (in the 3D renders) and ask – if this enterprise was cost-dependent then why would they bother with something so artistic? The answer is to shield their eyes from the drab cubicles upstairs and yet still let natural light in from the skylights. It has a function! I think too often we ignore the ‘possible’ in favour of the ‘assumption’ because the ‘possible’ seems beyond our grasp. I think I might have favoured a white translucent canvas ‘dome’ if only for the home-made IMAX opportunities it may offer.

Via James’ blog, I was led to the Altrupreneur Centre Project where they debate the virtues of cubicle versus open office design based on the results of a study performed a few years back. The study concluded that open office design negatively impacted workers satisfaction and they find it ironic that Co-Working espouses the open office design.

The study itself sampled 21 employees who were in a large private organisation and were surveyed before the shift, 4 weeks after the move and again 6 months after. Employee satisfaction went down and, frankly I’m not surprised. The survey doesn’t prove anything about co-working, positively or negatively, it proves something about making changes in large entrenched organisations.

  • Moving desks is something that not a lot of people like doing. Moving your comfortable work environment and yet having to keep the detritus of your previous desk is difficult especially when you’ve just lost your cubicle walls.
  • Personal preference in seating matters to some people. I don’t care where I sit but I prefer having my back to a wall as opposed to a doorway. That’s a personal thing.
  • The view can matter. There’s always a debate here with desk moves because where we were sitting previously, there was a nice view over the Dock on one side and the long stretch of road towards Belfast on the other. Now, I can see warehouse roofs on one side and on the other, an office.
  • Breaking the status quo with a team can be damaging to morale. If everyone knows that Dave sits by the window because, frankly, he was first there then that’s fine. If there’s a move and someone new gets the window seat it’s unlikely to please anyone. Least of all Dave.
  • Privacy is important to some people especially depending on their work ethic and their ability to get into ‘the zone’ for being productive. If you’re easily distracted or like checking out web sites during your breaks, you might not like this new potential for people to interrupt you.
  • We have no data about whether this move was done voluntarily, whether the individuals were consulted beforehand, whether they volunteered or whether there were accommodations made to attempt to make their experience more palatable.

Co-Working does not equal Open Office Design but the sort of person likely to be attracted to co-working is not going to be someone who would naturally need privacy and peace to work. It’s going to attract more social people, people who have flexible management who trust them to get the work done, people who work for themselves and can discipline themselves.

In The Business Plan for the Co-Working space I planned to open, we considered the different needs of different individuals which is why there was seating planned for the ground floor which was a public coffee shop, the next floor would be an open plan co-work space (The Commons) and the floor above that would include offices for people to work together in relative privacy (The Cloisters). There should be a mix!

I mention this because Andy mentioned that it would be possible to come along and view the potential co-working space in Belfast at 4:30 pm today. Co-Working is certainly the buzzword for the moment.

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