Co-working spaces are still very new and everyone seem to have different expectations of what they are.
Space is located in the heart of the River North neighborhood is a place where individuals, small companies, and remote teams rent either an office or desk in order to accomplish their business goals.
One of the promises of co-working spaces is that they’re more productive than a coffee shop and more interesting than a corporate office. There’s an intangible value in the magic of connecting people from disparate industries and professional backgrounds in unexpected ways. Space calls this intangible value “Assisted Serendipity.”
- Create collisions assist in serendipity.
- Catalyze relationships, both personal and professional.
- Adding value thru authentic and meaningful connections.
- Increasing retention thru service and care.
Observations people send most of their time in their offices. This makes sense because they are there to work after all, however when interviewed many people expressed interest interacting with other Space members either personally, professionally, or both.
The physical layout of Space is not encouraging interactions between members. This denies any chance encounters between Space members, which is counteracting Space’s value of assisted serendipity.
Interviews with Space member show that they are willing to solve their own problems they are just unsure how. Other administrative barriers cause confusion and disappointment among members.
Meanwhile on the administration side. Members all go to one of two community managers for all of their questions, comments, and concerns. By funneling all member responsibilities on top of day to day operations causes many projects to either be dropped or left incomplete.
Research in competitors showed that amenities, location, and events where all very similar, however all the co-working spaces all differ on how they brand themselves.
Interviews show that people who chose Space based on a few factors.
- Price — Space’s price is well in the market medium
- Event space — Space member have a place to host events
- Location — Centrally located and close to public transportation makes commuting simple for members.
Knowing the factors on why people chose Space are important, however knowing that none of the members showed any feeling of community is clear that Space’s value of assisted serendipity is not coming across to Space’s own members.
In this ideation session stake holders were all invited as well as internal design teams to brain storm on possible solutions for Space’s problems. All ideas were encouraged from those that defy physics to those that only require a visit to a hardware store.
By breaking down the floor plan and targeting areas in which improvements can be made to address member pain points and encourage interactions.
Way finding for those who are visiting Space were observed either wondering around looking for help or asking a member for assistance. Putting couches and a coffee table near the front to clearly show waiting area for guests and a comfortable casual place for people to work. Adding an event calendar to the entrance shows guests and members that Space is dynamic and can be a resource to help promote an event. Moving the reception desk close to the door is a clear signifier for guests that they will need to check in there.
“What happens if there is no one there?”
A digital directory will display all the Space members. Most guest only know what company they are here to meet with and who they are meeting with. When designing a directory for guest to use it was important that users can find a member and notify them that they had arrived.
After selecting the company, a 2nd directory of people within the company will appear in alphabetical order. Once the guest locate their contact they can notify them that they have arrived.
A confirmation and welcome message will appear after the message has been sent.
A message is sent to the contact person notifying them that their guest has arrived and where they are waiting.
Mixed working Spaces
Home is generally the most comfortable place for people
Creating hybrid between work and home bring a bit of comfort and familiarity to work. This sense comfort helps people be open to interacting and collaborating with others. Also offers retreat or a change of scenery throughout the day.
Something interesting that we tried was the legos. When the legos were placed on the working tables they were never touched, and now placed in a living room setting, now new lego artifacts found everyday.
Contextual observation and interviews show that Space members where using the north workspace as a collaborative area already because it was semi private and did not require booking. To encourage this behavior white board tables were installed to allow further brainstorming.
A community board is a great way to allow members to actively communicate their wants and needs.
The current community board lacked signifiers, so members did not know what is was. It was also was not within the sightline of many people accessing the coffee station.
Through interview members they were unaware that Space even had a community board, however many people expressed interest in seeing and participating in a member sourced community board.
As we know serendipity can happen at a glance, so when prototyping a new community board it was important to place it in a high traffic area within a direct sightline.
The left side initially was created to help self motivate member by showing people’s inspirations for working in Space. However, when people started to fill it out it turned into a suggestion box; not the intend but this would be a great way to return feed back to Space directly from its members.
The right side was create to encourage community amongst Space members. It is a board were members can post events, projects, and needs. To make things more interactive an ad-lib flyer was created where members can easily create a wanted posting.
Digital Community Board
Space does have multiple floors in the same building and plans to expand to other locations and cities. An app will give Space a wider community reach and a large sight line.
The phone booths where a common topic through most of the member interviews when ask, “what would you like to see different?” A wide array of answers from: they are too stuffy, not private enough, too not sound proof enough, and not large enough. The thing that people seemed to agree on is the fact there is no surface to put a laptop on.
Meeting and Conference rooms
The physical design on the conference rooms work very well. Member love the large television and tables, and there is no hourly charge for use.
The main pain point for concerning the the conference room is booking. Currently Space uses a service in order to allow members to book their own conference room, however not all the rooms are on the service and sometimes the service is difficult to use.
Another function of Space’s app will be conference room booking that could be accessed through the a member’s phone or a tablet mounted near the conference rooms.
After serval days since the prototypes were installed people have been observed working outside of their offices more often, they are interacting in predictable places, and contributing to the community boards.
SPACE is not the sum of its white boards and its private office spaces. It can be a resource, a home, and most of all a community where people can come together, work together, and rise together.