Recently whilst at a talk hosted by Mix and with guest speakers, Ian Aldous (Senior Director at Arcadia), Andrew Butterworth (Commercial Director of Bruntwood Works), Spike O’Connell (Expansion Manager from Runway East) and David Kosky (Founder of Work.Life) the general consensus was that people were asking and seeking out WeWork like spaces, they also believe that coworking spaces will continue to grow in popularity. What makes these spaces so desired? Why are they so popular and what key ideas can we learn from when designing our workplaces?
I looked at the key to WeWork’s growing success. They started out with the goal “to build a community. A place you join as an individual, ‘me’, but where you become part of a greater ‘we’. A place where we’re redefining success measured by personal fulfillment, not just the bottom line. Community is our catalyst.”
Their spaces offer a wide range of amenities from the office standards such as internet, meeting rooms and printers to the little luxuries that make everyday activities a little bit more enjoyable, including micro-roasted coffee, unique common areas and craft on draft. They have also embraced agile working with different areas depending on the type of work, they have private phone booths, event spaces, brainshower rooms and conference rooms. These different spaces allow for greater collaboration; sharing of ideas and advice to foster and build a business and network.
Wework also prioritise social and networking events “from regularly scheduled office hours with venture capitalists or other industry professionals, to cheese tastings with the whole community, we know how to work, and we know how to have fun.”
Coworking spaces tend to be centred around unique common areas that form the heart and soul of the business. These spaces have come about mainly due to a rise in new startup companies, along with a boom in freelancing roles. As humans we crave social interaction and these new business’ / sole traders needed somewhere to interact and network. To attract people that would usually work from home to use these spaces they are becoming more like leisure destinations; including lounge areas that are designed to be like living rooms and styled spaces designed with creativity, comfort and ultimately increased productivity in mind.
Wework believes “Space has the power to transform business – unlocking the potential of people and organisations. Intentional design, warm hospitality and flexible solutions enable your team to do their best work.”
I feel that where a ‘Wework’ style approach may work for some, it is not an all size fits all solution. It is important to remember that all business’ are different and the people that are part of these companies are individuals with various needs too. I feel every office design should be approached by looking at the functions, tasks and culture of the individual company you are designing for and then creating a space that meets all their needs, whilst creating a sense of belonging and community.