Guest Author Scott Sassoon of Blender Workspace, the provider of luxury offices and coworking space for high-caliber entrepreneurs and businesses, located in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan, delves into the build out, construction and design phase of opening a coworking space.
Once you secure your space it’s time to bring it to life. The most important thing about running a business in the flexible workspace industry is preserving the flexibility of the space, accommodating changing needs of the modern worker and their business demands, and fostering collaboration and community. Keep these pillars in mind when you’re in the build out phase of your space, from construction to architecture and design.
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When you’ve got a large space within four empty walls it’s time to get to work. Before you start general construction, you’ll want to sit with an architect to draw up a floor plan. Your floor plan should bring your business plan to life. It’s to say, the layout will represent your revenue streams. For example, with pure open space Coworking, members may come and go and you may not be able to reach your breakeven point. However, with private offices, you are guaranteed a monthly recurring membership income.
The layout of your workspace is largely determined by the market. For example, while percentages may vary, NYC has a strong demand for private offices, while secondary, less mature markets may flourish with a majority of Coworking or hot desk space. At Blender, we built 70% private offices and 30% dedicated desks (both of which require a minimum 3-month commitment). Your target demographic will also drive your layout. Early stage tech startups generally require a lower price point and therefore open space may be relevant to them. We cater to a more established member set of creative, fashion and lifestyle brands, all of which require private offices at Blender.
Again, depending on your market and demographic you may want to consider the following general layout. Build out of a coworking space should account for 50-55% private offices, phone booths, and meeting space, 15-20% flex and Coworking space, and the remainder common areas, a kitchen, and amenities (think bike storage, yoga studio, podcast room, etc.). Be cognizant not to put common space where collaboration and interactions occur too close to work areas. After all, your members are there to be productive.
Depending on the amount of square feet you’re working with, you’ll want to think smart about other spaces that can bring in revenue streams, such as training rooms and event space. Although they require a decent chunk of your total square footage, they can be repurposed when not in use as hot-desk or Coworking space.
Plan for the Future
With your architect, you may want to map out which areas of the space (or your business plan!) can be brought to life by employing movable and foldable walls. Thinking ahead will help you to adapt your space to growing customers and allow yourself the wiggle room to easily shift the layout of your space without a massive expenditure in reconstructing the space down the line. With moveable furniture you could also accommodate large events, day conferences, training sessions and make-shift conference rooms when needed, generating additional revenue.
Between your construction company, electrician and architect, they can map out where to strategically place outlets to accommodate electric needs throughout the space. When designing your kitchen, make sure you speak with your electrician about how much power you can run on the available circuits. Know the capacity of each circuit to avoid blowing a fuse when running the microwave and toaster at the same time, for example.
Natural light is essential and, the more you have the better, but you’ll still need to install lighting. Plus, lamps and light fixtures form an integral part of your design. Use commercial grade LED light bulbs, which may be a bigger upfront investment but will save in energy costs over time. Noise can also be an issue in mixed-use spaces. Speak with a designer or engineer to soundproof meeting rooms, private offices, and enclosed kitchen or any social spaces. Carefully consider sound when laying out your space and consider segregating private offices from common areas to prevent noise pollution from interrupting productivity.
Much like your Coworking build out, your design approach will likely revolve around your target demographic. For example, being a luxury workspace provider located on the exclusive Madison Avenue in NYC, Blender Workspace was thoughtfully designed to cater to a discerning member set of established professionals who require beautiful aesthetics and an elevated work experience. Our community is made up of professionals who are already successful and do not need us to craft an image for them. Instead, we try to reflect the energy and spirit that the Blender community exhibits.
The design will influence the culture and feel of your space. While aesthetics are important, it’s vital not to lose the balance of a practical design to functionality ratio. Your Coworking space design should embody your brand while also fostering a welcoming environment where your workspace members can feel at home, comfortable and not distracted. On the whole, if you’re aiming for the modern and quirky look with exposed brick or graffiti walls, don’t expect to attract the legal and finance startups. Keep the design and artwork fun but within certain limits.
Up next in this series: Technology and Workspace Management Software
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