How to Optimize A Small Coworking Space
Gone are the days when you were forced to decide between working from home and working at a full-time corporate office. You can achieve the perfect balance by working at a coworking space. According to studies, there will be more than 21.3k coworking spaces worldwide by the end of 2019 and this number is expected to grow by 43% until 2022. With so many growth opportunities, a lot of organizations have opened up their own coworking businesses varying from small to large shared spaces.
While bigger coworking spaces tend to achieve economies of scale, not all co-workers prefer or can afford big spaces. In addition, the quality of interactions and propensity to work in teams decreases as the size of the coworking space increases. In this case, an optimized small coworking space can work much better in fostering creativity and improving productivity among employees. Today, we explore some points for improvements at a small coworking space that can make a big difference in productivity without burning a hole in your pocket.
1) Choose Your Own Chairs
Your coworking space furniture is built around your target audience. Furniture is an important part of the whole coworking experience. While you can choose your own desks, sofas, kitchen appliances, etc. don’t forget the most important piece of furniture for your users, “their chair”. People spend a lot of time sitting at their desks and an uncomfortable chair can destroy the entire working experience.
When looking for furniture, select pieces that are functional, fun and fit the space. If you’re running on a budget you may be tempted to buy the stylish yet cheap chairs which may be uncomfortable for the users. When considering comfort, you may find chairs which are very comfortable but don’t match your office style. To solve this dilemma, allow your users to choose between bringing in their own chairs or selecting the ones available. When users bring their own chairs, complement their efforts by collaborating with furniture companies to offer them special discounts, dropping the rental price to compensate for their efforts and by providing them free cushions around the office to make their chairs more comfortable and cozy. BYOC (bring your own chair) brings you direct savings in terms of fixed asset cost without compromising on the most important factor, the user comfort. Otherwise, set a comfortable budget for them to select their own.
2) Keep Your Space Flexible
The number of users in your working space will shrink and grow over time. Naturally, their needs will also change. Upgrading your space according to new demands and feedback can really burn a hole in your pocket. To prevent this, create a flexible space where you can accommodate different types of requirements from the get-go. Here are some ways in which you can create a flexible space:
i) Retractable Walls: Divide the bigger meeting rooms into smaller rooms with retractable walls. You can remove the wall for bigger events, and allow users to schedule the smaller rooms on other days.
ii) Adjustable Standing Desks: Use adjustable standing desks which allow you to adjust the desk-height and work while standing without changing your desk location. Standing desks keep the participants more active and promote good health for your users.
iii) Privacy Desk Panels: Users sometimes need privacy from other users and may not like the concept of open space. Allow users to use privacy desk panels as an extension to their work desk when required.
iv) Small Phone Booths: Coworking spaces encourage social interactions but sometimes professionals need privacy to connect with clients and accept calls. Create small noise-isolated phone booths which can be used by members to make long-distance calls or connect on video calls without external disturbance.
v) Movable Accessories: Add movable accessories like small reading lamps, plants, paintings to the space which can be easily replaced whenever you want to give a fresh feel to the workplace.
3) Meeting Room Utilization
Meeting rooms are one of the most profitable assets for coworking spaces. You can capture significant business revenue by better utilizing your meeting room space. As real estate becomes more expensive, more and more organizations prefer booking meeting rooms at coworking spaces. Use this opportunity to fill in your revenue gap.
In addition to allowing internal staff members to use the meeting rooms, you can capitalize on renting out the meeting rooms to external agencies. Use the retractable walls to divide the bigger meeting room into smaller rooms and automatically coordinate the free meeting room booking software like SuperSaaS. Here are some features of a meeting room booking software which you can benefit from:
i) Automatically Coordinate Individual Schedules: You can easily create individual schedules for each small room and automatically coordinate multiple schedules from a single schedule (to rent out all three rooms together as a large meeting room).
ii) Reduce No-Shows: The system sends automated reminder messages via SMS/Email which reduces no-shows and improves your utilization.
iii) Accept Online Payments Without a Commission Fee: You can also accept online payments directly to your account for the meeting rooms you rent out (zero commission fee).
iv) Increase Revenue with Pricing Rules: You can use the pricing rules to increase prices during peak busy periods. You can also create promotional coupons and sales offers to encourage first-time bookings from new customers.
v) Sync with External Calendars: The bookings for the rooms can be easily synced across multiple calendars, reducing the probability of no-shows and eliminating double bookings completely.
Profitability begins with efficient operations, and utilizing your meeting rooms efficiently can reduce the revenue growth pressure on the overall business.
4) Inspire with Your Interiors
When it comes to small coworking spaces, you need to make the best use of space with special attention to your interiors and lighting design. Here are some quick ideas you can use to inspire with your indoor areas:
i) Multiple Color Schemes: Use multiple color schemes around different areas of your coworking space to ensure something for everyone.
ii) Seating options: Experiment with many different types of seating options, like creating a bed to lie down and work, a comfortable couch to sit with colleagues for discussions, round tables for bigger team discussions, seating around the staircase area for individual space and so on.
iii) Share Inspiring Quotes: Use a blackboard or small whiteboard to display inspiring quotes and messages throughout the coworking space. Using quirky quotes can help you add colors and inspire people around the workplace. Using a whiteboard ensures you can change your quotes and messages so people don’t end up getting bored with the same messages and instead look forward to reading something new.
iv) Ensure There is Sufficient Light: While building the coworking space, make sure you allow enough light to fill the room during the daytime. However, take care of the direction of the sun, because you don’t want the users to burn up in the heat during the summers.
v) Plants and Flowers: Use artificial plants and flowers to light up the place. They require minimum maintenance and also allow members to create a boundary without appearing isolated from the others.
5) Encourage Paperless Work
Your workplace reflects your ethics, and what better way to save money and prove you’re environment friendly than to go paperless and encourage technology to eliminate the need for any printed material. Here are a few ways in which you can encourage your users to go paperless:
i) Create Central Printers: Place only a few printers away from a convenient location. When it’s not easily reachable, people feel lazy to print unnecessary documents (which they otherwise might have). Enable logging in and sharing printing statistics on a weekly/monthly basis may discourage users from printing a lot of pages. In addition, share quotes on saving paper near the printer to make people more conscious about their decisions.
ii) Enable Digital Scanners: Use modern copiers and printers that also include digital scanners to encourage users to share all their work digitally. You can encourage the use of free apps like CamScanner to make it easier for people to scan documents directly from their mobile devices.
iii) Make it Easier to Work Without Paper: Encourage weekly tips via automated emails to allow users to work easily without paper. For example, share work via Google Drive or DropBox, make room and resource bookings online, use online digital signs and invoices and so on.
For more resources on coworking space utilization here are some more helpful resources: 16 Great apps for coworking professionals
Sneha Mittal is a coworking enthusiast and is the marketing manager at SuperSaaS. Her area of expertise is entrepreneurship and marketing. Sneha currently writes about latest trends and technologies on various esteemed blogs.