8 Steps to Designing a Coworking Space

The design of a coworking space is critical to every element of its performance. With so many coworking spaces coming up nowadays, there are just so many which simply miss the mark of how a coworking space should look, feel and function. Whether you decide to hire a designer or use the many online resources for cool office inspiration, such as Pinterest, this post is a must-read guide before designing any coworking space.


Your tenants will grow and shrink and therefore their needs will constantly be changing. If the building layout is set in stone (literally), updating it regularly may shrink your pocket.

A large flexible space will mean that you can host events or conferences and utilize every inch on a regular day.

Retractable walls, stack-able chairs and tables on wheels are a great place to start. If you want to design a flexible space, make sure that electrical outlets are frequent, whether on the walls, hanging from the ceiling or on the floor. Make sure that the lighting can also be adjusted to set the right mood for the occasion. If you are hosting a cocktail reception you may want to dim them, but during the grey winter afternoons, bright lights are essential.

Design Tip: Make sure to account for furniture storage when they are not in use


Coworking by definition exemplifies community and collaboration, but sticking a whole bunch of people in a building and merely hoping that they interact is naive to say the least. Anything from ‘water-cooler chat’, to making new friends, finding a partner (business or other) and hearing about unique investment opportunities is what makes a coworking space successful, and the design needs to facilitate this.

They say the home is centered around the kitchen, it’s the same in a coworking office, especially the coffee machine (of beer tap). If the area is comfortable, has bar stools, perhaps a couch nearby to have a casual meeting or work on your laptop, it will encourage people to leave their desks and sit in the communal area. Just think Starbucks, but where you see the same people every day and the coffee is free (or cheaper, and probably better) and you don’t constantly feel like you have to order something.

Another awesome place is the open coworking area. The design is crucial as there is a fine balance between interaction and privacy. Long banquet style tables or large round tables are perfect to work on and also comfortable enough to strike up a conversation. Make sure to include some stand-alone (or heavily partitioned work stations) which are more private.

A games room is another incredible way to encourage interaction, whether it’s a Play Station or foosball table (which you need 2-4 people to play), it will guarantee that you meet new people in your office, and have fun whilst doing it!

Design Tip: Whilst encouraging interaction, talking, laughing and who knows, maybe a debate about the next general election just make sure that the location is a good distance away from where people are working. If you don’t have the distance, a good sound, such as glass or a fuzzy wall barrier will work.

3 PICK N' MIX (your work environment)

Aside from the obvious reasons (entrepreneurship, flexible hours etc…) most people leave the 9-5 because they hate their stuffy little cubicles and crammed offices in their big and dull, beige offices. We know that with WiFi (usually free), and the fact that due to technology, the world is getting much smaller, we can practically work from anywhere. Despite our increased ‘flexibility’ there is still tremendous value in being within proximity to your colleagues and other people, where new interactions happen seamlessly and constantly, your team are a shout away and you have Popcorn Thursdays or Happy-Hour Fridays. However, being within reach of your colleagues does not mean that the work environment needs to be the same.

 Most coworking spaces will have their open hot-desking areas or individual cubicles, but what about the more interesting spaces such as a roof terrace or a bean-bagged lawn, or perhaps some more focused work corners such as an airport style lounge or a library. Think about casual work places like a café or a hotel lobby or private work pods with a charging point and enough space for your laptop. By including a variety of different spaces, users can constantly retain that nomadic feeling or simply hone in on their perfect work environment. Providing variation goes so much further than just ‘mixing it up’. There have been numerous studies which show different personality types work more efficiently and are happier under different environments.       


As within every working environment, especially when there are so many different companies within close proximity and where confidential information is flowing, secret x-mas parties are being planned and launch dates are being discussed, privacy is key!

Design Tips:

Make sure your office walls, glass or drywall have sufficient sound proofing (typically for glass it’s a minimum of 10mm thick).
If the space has glass offices, you don’t want to cover them all up but make sure that you frost or add decals to the glass from anywhere between 6inches (152mm) to 1ft (305mm) above the table surface height.
Supply storage to store and lock confidential documents, as well as keep them out of sight.
Phone booths for private conversations are awesome, especially ones about embarrassing shopping dates with your mother. Check out Framery, a really cool company for soundproof phone booths.


A space suitable for twenty people but used by two, is not maximizing your rentable space. Twenty people squeezing into a space for two, well to say the least would be interesting. As with work environments, meeting space should not only be defined by their traditional identity - a room with chairs and a table, but could should be thought about in a range of forms, such as a booth, a couch or simply a kitchen bar.

 Design Tip: When designing meeting rooms, you should take these three factors into account:

1) Size / 2) Formality / 3) Privacy

Obviously you won’t be able to fit in every combination, but a variety of rooms with different levels of each factor should be designed. Take Northspace for example, where one of the meeting rooms is themed as a scotch room (with free scotch for members). Not only does a range create variety, but different spaces will have their own rentable value.

When positioning your meeting rooms, consider the trajectory of your guests, and try to avoid long walks from the reception area, especially through private office areas. A common misconception is that meeting rooms need daylight. Don’t forget that you are usually in them for a short time and sometimes the lights need to be off for a projector. However, most importantly you don’t want to use up your valuable window real estate with a meeting room.


“Happy Monday” is the new “Happy Friday”! For the lucky ones, the notion of work is no longer monotonous, dull and lifeless. Work and play are becoming synonymous with one another and the design of the space will help amplify this. This is the same reason why offices like Google, Airbnb, Wework, Northspace and others have invested millions into their design, often with references to the home. Whether it is the ‘Family Room’ for a schmooze, the hammocks for an afternoon power nap, or the photo wall with a picture of you and your dog Milo, it’s important that your home away from home is cozy, welcoming, familiar and personal. Traditionally the office meant work and the home meant play, but now, with a blur between the two, it’s important that play happens at work. Some fun design features you could consider are a slide or fire-fighters pole between floors, an adult-size ball pond or a rock climbing wall.

Design Tips: Allocating a communal space for coworkers to share personal photos, stories or tips, not only encourages interaction, but also creates the opportunity to form a stronger bond with the space. It might be as simple as a Polaroid camera and a cork board.

7 BRRR...IT'S COLD (it's warm, its too dark, its too bright)

If you are getting an architect or designer, they may recommend an engineer for advice on the heating and cooling as well as the lighting. Not to mention the optimal location for your thermostats (hidden from where people can tamper with it). Temperature wars are a nightmare, not only for users but also for a management who is trying to keep everyone happy.

It is not only a comfort thing, but temperature actually affects productivity.

Design Tip: If you have a big space, definitely seek the advice of an engineer. For an extra couple of grand, you could save yourself a lot of stress and money in the long run.


No explanation needed. Your interiors should be enough to inspire, but there is no harm in giving that extra boost! 

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