This blog was first published in Dutch on Smart WP
Coworking spaces are again opening up and seeing growth has made a comeback after the pandemic slowdown, as at-home workers and traditional entrepreneurs find new ways to improve productivity and engage in social interaction while maintaining health and safety protocols in shared spaces.
“Coworking spaces do not just offer a place to avoid the burnout stress of working from home but also provide a nurturing atmosphere that encourages creative output,” explains Jeannine van der Linden.
She has been involved in this area for over ten years, since a time when coworking was still a new idea in much of Europe. A pioneer of the movement, van der Linden runs De Kamer, a network of 10 workspaces in the Netherlands, she’s director of accessibility and sustainability at European Coworking Assembly, and managing partner at Open Coworking.
There are several reasons why new companies, entrepreneurs, freelancers and solo artists use a coworking space.
- Motivation: There is an energy and productivity in the air when you are in a room full of working people
- Community: There’s a sense of community and members will help one another succeed
- Flexibility: The terms of rental are more flexible with coworking spaces, which suits the budget of startups and freelancers and makes scheduling easier for larger businesses.
- Breaking the at-home cycle of aloneness: Being around other people is good for your spirits, it can keep you sharp and is great for creativity.
- Networking: New opportunities can flow organically from the interaction with other kinds of businesses
“The original idea of shared offices, just a boardroom, maybe an office or a hot desk, and ancillary hardware such as printers and copiers, has evolved to so much more. Today’s coworking space encapsulates interior design ideas normally associated with major corporations, and is cognisant of the human need for interaction, colour, and after hours socialising,” continues van der Linden.
“Coworking Mag has done some detailed research on coworking trends, which highlights that design has grown to more than just responding to the diverse needs of its community but should also use innovative design to predict what it will need in the future.
“We have consulted with Cutwork, an architectural firm that designs concepts, interior spaces, and furniture for pioneering companies who are reimagining how space can be shared for work and life. As the coworking market expands, attention to amenities becomes a big draw factor.”
Sketches: Antonin Yuji Maeno, Cofounder + Partner Architect at Cutwork
Going ‘green’, going hi-tech
“Creating an inspired space that offers engagement and affordability is the key to designing shared spaces,” explains Bryce Willem, CMO and director of research at Cutwork.
“Using our signature blend technology, Cutwork develops interior design concepts by crafting a self-evident aesthetic. We are looking for new ways to live and work by reinventing and expanding the possibilities of habitation.
“Architects and designers need to shift perspectives on how to conceive and build space differently. It is not only about how it is built. We believe architecture and design are about what happens in the space between the people living in it.
“The trends in coworking spaces today look at workspaces that must be adaptable and ergonomically sound. The communal areas should be versatile, in order to accommodate a variety of events and needs, bringing together hospitality, social club, and workspace into a single, contemporary space.
“The move is towards ample space and generous amenities, with particular emphasis on cost-efficient and reusable materials. The coworking space must be fit for the 21st century, full of clever, functional design details and a creative approach. As health and wellness have become more of a focus in recent years, greenspace design has proven to be a trend that’s here to stay due to its long-term benefits.
“Key to the design of coworking spaces is co-creation and building a feeling of community for the tenants. For example, this could mean reserving a budget for an amenity area, a blank space if you will, that is only completed after occupancy. We need to empower the members to have a dialogue on how to use the space. This then makes sense of their particular needs rather than saying ‘this is the lounge’. Perhaps they want a communal garden, a library, an eating area, phone booths, or a fitness area. We have found there is a 30% increase in the amount of time members use these spaces that they’ve helped create from the bottom up – as opposed to the traditional top-down approach many operators use today.
“A coworking space can also reach out to the neighbourhood and become a hub that in turn profits the startups and freelancers who work there by accessing more possible clients. A work café, capitalising its ground floor into a public place, is syphoning off the blended space and creating an inevitable hub in the neighbourhood, thus increasing the real estate potential.
“The way we live has changed and this even extends to the furniture we use in coworking spaces. With our industrial technologies, we are reinventing classic pieces of furniture for emerging types of shared environments. Specialised products for flexible, versatile workspaces that are built tough for heavy everyday use.
“The future is shared and architecture and design has the potential to reshape the ways we live, work, and cooperate in our cities,” concludes Willem.