Our working life is changing at a rapid rate. How we do business today is, in many ways, worlds apart to how we conducted ourselves 10 years ago. What’s driving this change, among other things, is technology, which allows us to work anywhere, anytime and with anyone. It breaks down many of the barriers that once stood in the way of flexible working.
Other factors are attitudes and expectations. We spend a lot of our waking hours undertaking some form of paid work, so it’s only natural that the expectations of the environment and culture of where you spend those hours is high – and this is even more so with the next generation of employees.
As we know, an uninspiring workplace can lead to uninspiring work, and can ultimately have an impact on staff happiness and the big one – productivity.
Companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and Airbnb have been ahead of the game when it comes to developing an enviable workplace culture that fosters collaboration and innovation through clever design.
Other more traditional organisations are following suit, such as the award-winning Medibank Place in Melbourne and the headquarters of SA Water and Adelaide Bendigo Bank in Adelaide. With dynamic workplaces like these, it’s little wonder people are drawing comparisons with their own workplace and yearning for something more.
Hub Melbourne (photo: Diana Snap)
Enter co-working. No longer the domain of start-ups and freelancers, co-working spaces worldwide are attracting a growing number of larger companies, as business leaders come to recognise the benefits of dynamic, well-designed shared working communities.
While there’s been a continued shift for head offices in particular to adopt many of the co-working principles of shared zones and different workspaces, this trend is flipping it on its head, with businesses placing teams – or whole businesses – into dedicated co-working spaces.
This factor was a key driver in our recent design of Hub Southern Cross, located in the historic Mail Exchange building in Melbourne. It features a significant increase in enclosed private studio space, which is large enough for teams of 20 – indicative of the success of the co-working ecosystem, as single practitioners build business and require private space in addition to individual desks.
There are so many options and features that can be incorporated when creating a dynamic co-working space, but most importantly the design should centre on user-needs. For example, Hub Australia’s newest co-working space features a 50-plus seat café at the entrance, communal kitchen, 100-person event space, media room, gym and relaxation space that transforms into a yoga studio.
The biggest attraction for businesses with larger teams is mostly driven by the desire to tap into what co-working ecosystems like Hub offer (community, creativity, connectivity and networking), with the added benefit of being able to leave the studio as it is and lock up at the end of the day. This, combined with the aesthetics, makes a difference to your wellbeing and ultimately the work you deliver.
Hub Sydney (photo: Nathan Dyer)
Thankfully, workplaces today are evolving from a sea of matching grey cubicles to a variety of furniture and spaces allowing for adaptability and flexibility, together with ‘bump’ zones, event spaces and the very best technology that unlocks the ability to work anywhere anytime.
Through my experience as a workplace designer, I’ve learnt there are five key ingredients that businesses or individuals considering a productive co-working space should look for:
1. Unique environment
Good co-working spaces utilise centralised, unique buildings close to public transport and amenities. High ceilings, ample natural light and airflow with something unique about the space, something that you wouldn’t ordinarily experience if you were working in a traditional corporate-style office.
2. Tech savvy
Access to high-speed internet, printers and copiers, state-of-the-art conferencing and presentation facilities with the ability for global connections are a must with technology now playing a vital role in businesses of all sizes.
This is where co-working spaces really sing – the opportunity for serendipitous encounters (or ‘bump factor’) that encourages knowledge transfer, creativity, community and cross-collaboration between businesses, thanks to a variety of different bespoke spaces.
4. A host with the most
It’s important to have a welcoming host who encourages and promotes cross collaboration, while facilitating networking and social activities. At Hub, part of the host’s role is to also carefully curate the members to ensure the right balance of businesses.
5. Flexibility for business growth
A variety of working spaces that suit the various stages of business growth, from individuals and start-ups to businesses with up to 20 staff, accommodated in studios. This also benefits businesses whose teams regularly fluctuate depending on projects, meaning that businesses aren’t carrying the cost of empty desks.
The trend towards co-working is set to continue with a report by Deskmag estimating the number of locations globally will increase by 25 per cent in 2017. More than 10,000 co-working spaces became available worldwide by the end of last year.
Kyrstyan McLeod is an Associate at HASSELL
Header image: Hub Adelaide (photo: Nathan Dyer)