When designing a coworking space, many are under the false impression that it’s as simple as outfitting a space with some desks, WiFi, and decent coffee and the members will start rolling in. Maybe at one point. However, as this industry grows and coworking models become more complex, so does the design process. At Agora RDM, we’ve developed a comprehensive 3D Coworking Model based on our 3D process: Define | Design | Drive . This model incorporates six elements to consider when designing a flex-use or shared workspace.
The Six Elements of Coworking
More Than Shared Workspace
The rise in collaborative consumption and the sharing economy movement have spurred an increase in popularity of flex-use and shared workspace models. Pairing Space as a Service with assorted business resources, these facilities provide countless benefits to all who use them. Today, you’ll find coworking models of all different shapes and sizes. While there is much debate about the necessity of various bells and whistles some spaces offer, there are three basic factors which must be present in any coworking model.
A driving force behind the popularity of coworking is the ability for individuals who work alone to engage in much needed social interaction. Social or professional groups based around a common interest or skill set, have formed, providing a network to solo workers. Networks can exist in various forms, virtual or in person, however they maintain their integrity regardless of geographic location. When introducing designated space into the equation, you have what Ray Oldenburg, author of Great Good Place calls “Third Space”. Traditional Third Spaces include places such as: coffee shops, internet cafés, libraries, and business lounges.
Defining Differentiating Factors
The differentiating factor between a coworking space and a traditional Third Space is the implementation of intentionally curated experience. These experiences often come in the form of programing and events designed to benefit the user. They also provide operators with benefits such as marketing and additional revenue streams.
To state this in its most simple form:
- A person working alone is missing out…
- A person connecting with others creates a network…
- A network with a space, is a Third Space…
- A Third Space with purposeful experience, is a coworking space.
We admit, the line between third space and coworking can appear blurry. While the question “What is real coworking?” is often a heated debate within the industry, it’s widely accepted that coworking, no matter the business model, must account for each of these 3 factors: People, Space, and Experience.
Elements = The Tangible & Intangible Components of Each Factor
Each one of these three factors are in reality a spectrum, rather than a fixed concept. Through defining each factor, we have identified pairs of corresponding elements which represent tangible and intangible end of that continuum. Each element itself is then made up of various conditions.
In doing so we find:
- The factor of “Space” includes the physical (your Facility, and all aspects that come with it) as well as the intangible (referred to as Purpose, or your “why”).
- The factor of “People” includes the spectrum of both internal and external communities. With your members (referred to as Users) being at one end and Stakeholders represented at the other.
- The term “Experience” includes both active and passive engagement. How your members interact with your space (the User Engagement) as well as how your space interacts with them (Hospitality).
Understanding the spectrum present within each of these three factors is of vital importance when valuing the elements as corresponding components.(ie; a facility with no purpose is essentially just shared real estate, whereas purpose with no facility is a pipe dream)
When applying this thought process to all three factors at once, you’ll see the image begins to form a 3D cube. The factors of Space, People, and Experience all act as height, width, and depth. The corresponding elements of each factor thus account for parallel sides of the cube. Define, phase one of our Define | Design | Drive process provides organizations with data to be used when charting where their elements fall on each factor’s parallel planes.
Thinking about developing a flex-use or shared workspace business model? Our Define consulting services can provide you with the insight and guidance to mitigate financial risk. Contact us today!