The Future of Coworking

27 July 2011

In the last year there have been many articles addressing the future of the workspace. What will it look like? What tools will it need to have? What technology will be useful?

The future of work is already here, it’s called coworking. These type of workspaces are being designed with more thought, purpose and higher aesthetic principles than traditional office spaces. When we were first thinking of setting up our first coworking space in East London our main objective was to create a workspace entrepreneurs would be proud of. We recognised that entrepreneurs leaving the corporate environment would want a space that inspired them to create new ideas. This is still missing from traditional working environments, which have been designed to keep hierarchy and in many cases be quite oppressive.

Our brains are incredibly plastic and every detail of our environment has an effect on it. For example, if a space has great natural light it reduces cortisol levels, helping manage anxiety levels. Or being exposed to nature-scapes  releases serotonin levels, which has been proven to help concentration. Taking this into consideration imagine what a small, grey, cramped cubicle space would do to your brain and thoughts. The lack of space makes people feel closed off, thus shutting off conceptual thought, the oppressive nature of a repetitive layout makes people feel invisible, which affects confidence levels, finally the angular lines disturb our brains as sharp angles are associated with danger. We strongly believe that space and environment can be designed with more purpose and can affect how people think and interact.

For our space in New York City, we studied what colours, textures, lighting, layout would catalyse collaboration, focus, and conceptual thinking. The space was then designed for that purpose. We implemented a lot of neuroscience into the space, which some people have found extreme, however if the knowledge and technology is there why not use it? Furthermore, more and more architects are taking neuroscience into consideration to create better workspaces.

The advantages of coworking spaces go far from just a great space, they are about community. Everyday we see people giving their time to help a fellow coworker solve a problem, or people making business connections that otherwise would be illusive, or people learning new skills. In turbulent times we crave to be with people who can be supportive and share core values; this is what makes coworking space so special.

From our observations the next evolution will be to have corporate employees use coworking spaces as their satellite office so they are exposed to new ways of thinking. There are many studies, which indicate that new environments help create new ideas as our brain synapses fire when exposed to new things. The final ingredient will be finding effective ways to bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and corporations to help create a better economy.