Got Co-Working?

Blogger: Rachel Park, Strategic Facilities Planning Principal | Princeton, NJ, USA
September 21, 2016

Co-working spaces offer leasable space for knowledge workers who require office space but maybe not an entire office. This membership “club” is found in a variety of spaces from coffee bars, converted garages, restaurants and office buildings. The offerings at these places are similar; for the price of rent, workers gain access to:

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Free coffee and snacks
  • Beer on tap
  • Networking events
  • Variety of workstations, meeting spaces and lounges
  • Cool aesthetics

Many startup companies find co-working spaces not only an escape from the tedium of working from home, but also a great way to meet people; “co-workers” can create informal networking communities.

Although this model is a relatively recent phenomenon, it’s growing in popularity… and in footprint. For example, a report cited in The Atlantic’s CityLab found that in 2015, co-working spaces in downtown Chicago totaled 1.1 million square feet; by the end of 2018, that number is expected to balloon to 2 million square feet.

In addition to designated brick-and-mortar spaces, co-working environments can make use of existing public spaces, an efficient and flexible solution. Here are some models for co-working space:

  • WeWork – A Platform for Creators. WeWork’s mission is “TO CREATE A WORLD WHERE PEOPLE WORK TO MAKE A LIFE, NOT JUST A LIVING.” Besides space, they offer meetings with venture capitalists and industry professionals, happy hours that help create and maintain a strong team culture, and other events. WeWork currently has 29 locations in 13 countries.
  • Spacious – Unlimited weekday access to a network of beautiful spaces. Changing the paradigm of what office space can be, Spacious has developed a model of using restaurants that are ordinarily closed until 5pm or later. They’re currently open in New York City with plans to open in Los Angeles, San Francisco and London.
  • Civic Hall – a one-of-a-kind community center for the world’s civic innovators. In 2004, Andrew Rasiej, Founder of Personal Democracy Media, saw a need when attendees of the Personal Democracy Forum wanted to continue their lively conversations and networking. The result: “a space where social entrepreneurs, change-makers, government employees, hackers, academics, journalists, and artists can share knowledge, build tools, and solve problems, together.” Civic Hall is available in New York City.
  • The Pub Hub – the most affordable co-working spaces in Tel Aviv. The idea behind Pub Hub is like  Spacious for Tel Aviv bars. They provide “the most cost effective service and work space for everyone who is looking for a place to pursue and achieve their goals.”

Co-working spaces provide workers with clear benefits. My question: is it possible for design offices to host co-working spaces in our local communities?

Sharing our Wi-Fi, coffee and knowledge to start-ups or complementary businesses and could increase our own space utilization for starters. Even more valuably, it would bring us face to face with different perspectives—possibly including the industries that we design for. Opportunities for mentoring, networking, participation in company-led activities could attract new employees, increase our awareness in the community, and even create new prospects.

Anyone want to get together and try to develop a model for design office co-working?