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How to Design a Co-Working/Shared Space Workers Will Love

Co-working spaces are cropping up all over the world, from the U.S. to Indonesia, to the Netherlands. These communal spaces are revolutionizing how, when, and where people work.

Unlike a typical office, which accommodates employees from a single company, co-working spaces provide office amenities for employees from different companies and entrepreneurs and freelancers. The goal is to create a place for collaboration and idea-sharing across groups.

Co-working spaces are expected make up between five and ten percent of all office spaces in the U.S. by 2030, according to a report from a global real estate firm. The rapid growth in independent workers in the U.S. and around the world is driving this change.

Data show co-working spaces boost worker morale and satisfaction. A study by researchers at the University of Michigan found that people who use co-working spaces feel:

  • A stronger sense of identity at work
  • More in control
  • Like part of a community

Since there’s less competition among individuals and groups in co-working spaces, workers feel freer to be themselves. Members typically have more flexibility with their schedule, so they feel more in control and report having better work-life balance. Because these spaces provide opportunities for collaboration, people who use co-working spaces say they feel more connected to others.

Tips for Designing a Co-Working/Shared Space

Whether you’re a business owner who wants to create a small shared space for your employees or a designer planning a large-scale co-working space for your client, the tips below provide a basic framework for creating a co-working space where workers can thrive.

Make the layout flexible.

Change is inevitable in a co-working space. Members will come and go. Needs will change. Don’t box yourself in with an inflexible layout. Movable walls, stackable chairs, and folding tables on wheels can help you reconfigure the space as needed. Furniture companies are coming up with fun and clever new designs all the time—like this bendable paper chair-bench that contorts into an impressive number of configurations.

Designate rooms that guarantee interactions.

Communal spaces are designed to help people meet friends, establish new partnerships, and discover new opportunities. While humans are social creatures, sometimes it takes a little encouragement to get conversations going. Good design can help.

A café or kitchen can help encourage interactions—it’s why these spaces are an essential part of any co-working operation. Model the room after your favorite coffee bar, complete with a self-serve, commercial-grade coffee maker, snacks, bar stools, and convertible couches, and watch the magic happen.

A game room can also help bring people together, and it’s great for burning off excess energy or frustration when workers are stuck on a problem or obstacle and need a break. Just make sure the space is closed off or far enough away from working areas where people need to concentrate.

Don’t overlook technology.

Keep plenty of heavy-duty power strips on hand, which can easily be moved if and when you reconfigure the space. Consider investing in docking stations, interactive whiteboards, and digital wayfinding technology to help workers find open desk spaces. Make sure lighting is adjustable and is evenly distributed to accommodate any layout.

Create private spaces for phone calls and high-concentration work.

Open floor plans are ideal for collaboration and creative run-ins, but they have a downside: noise and distractions. For sensitive people, open floor plans can be more than a minor annoyance.

Data shows that four in ten people who work in offices with an open floor plan reported being distracted very often or always. Almost 50% said they’re unable to focus while at work. The biggest distractions were loud co-workers on the phone, office celebrations, co-workers talking nearby, table and video games, phone ringers or alarms, and pets in the office.

People who use co-working spaces need quiet and privacy as much as those in traditional offices, so it’s essential to build areas that allow for this within the larger space. The solution is easy: Use modular privacy walls to create huddle rooms, phone booths, and private cubicles where people can work or make phone calls without distractions.

Thoughtfully plan lighting and temperature control.

Bad lighting and temperature problems are a source of frustration for workers everywhere. Worse, they can kill mood and productivity.

  • Lighting: Two in three people are dissatisfied about the lighting situation at work. Dim lighting can strain the eyes, but harsh lighting is even worse. Natural light is best, but, if the space doesn’t have many windows, you can use artificial lighting to mimic the natural stuff. Use a combination of bright (but not harsh) dimmable overhead lighting and task lighting. Both LEDs and CFLs come in dimmable varieties.
  • Temperature: As temperature wars rage on in offices throughout the land, space heaters and desk fans become the weapons. Warmer offices are better for women—a controversial-sounding claim that’s backed by research; yet, the thermostats of most offices are set to satisfy the temperature preferences of men. There’s really no perfect solution to the temperature dilemma.

If it’s safe, you can allow people to bring in space heaters and fans. You can reposition AC vents and reserve sunny spots for people who crave warmth. Your best bet, though, is to work with a designer or engineer to prepare for this issue, which will inevitably crop up.

Get creative with meeting spaces.

Meeting rooms are usually boring, but they don’t have to be. You can easily create more interesting spaces with a variety of seating that includes standard office chairs but also sofas, cushy chairs and ottomans, and swivel seating. Also, consider creating themes for each room. Meeting spaces don’t need to have windows. Lights often need to be turned off for presentations, and you should reserve windows for working areas, anyway.

So, there you have it. Some tips to get you started. With some thoughtful planning, you’ll be well on your way to creating a co-working or shared office space that pleases employees and delivers results!

Space Plus: Helping You Build an In-Demand Co-Working Space

The workplace is evolving. Space Plus, a division of The Sliding Door Company, provides state-of-the-art interior door solutions to meet the changing needs of the modern workforce. Our office partitions, sliding glass doors, and privacy walls can help you create dynamic co-working spaces that are both functional and stylish. Let our talented team help you choose from a variety of designs, glass types, and frame finishes to suit your space.

View our gallery for inspiration and learn more about our interior door solutions for office environments here.

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Coworking Spaces in Train Stations: Could They Come to the U.S.?

Working on the go is a fixture of modern life. We’re no longer limited to 9 to 5 desk jobs. Ultra-compact laptops and tablets and wireless hotspots make it possible for people to work on public transport and turn an idle commute into productive time.

Now, countries like Indonesia and the Netherlands are incorporating coworking spaces into train stations to help commuters stay productive during layovers.

In Indonesia, the state-funded railway operator opens in a new windowprovides free coworking spaces with proof of boarding pass. In Europe, private companies like Seats2Meet take advantage of unused space in train stations, libraries, and even hospitals to create free coworking spaces for thousands of people.

But, there’s really no such thing as a free lunch. opens in a new windowPrivate companies make it work by allowing some members to pay with “social capital”—that is, the sharing of knowledge and expertise. These members support paying and non-paying members by offering up strategic advice in their area of expertise, and through beta testing. Other members pay a daily fee for seats in meeting rooms and private offices.

Coworking spaces have exploded in the U.S., too, although coworking spaces in public transport stations haven’t taken off quite yet. But some companies, like opens in a new windowWorkbar, have opened coworking spaces near subway stations.

Why People Love Coworking Spaces

Researchers from the University of Michigan who study what makes employees thrive conducted a comprehensive study on coworking spaces. They surveyed hundreds of workers from dozens of coworking spaces and found that people who use them:

  • Feel their work is meaningful (because they tend to choose projects they care about)
  • Feel more in control (because they have more autonomy and more control over their schedule)
  • Feel like part of a community (because they’re able to make connections with others in the communal space)

Coworking spaces are good for worker satisfaction, morale, and productivity. Not surprisingly, this has gotten the attention of employers across the U.S., including giants like Google and Zappos, both of which are known to use coworking spaces.

The open-flow design of coworking spaces—with communal seating and interior glass partitions and glass doors in place of confining walls—give these spaces their visual appeal.

Coworking spaces are popping up across the U.S. and around the world. It’s likely only a matter of time before they’re incorporated into train stations, subway stations, and airports to accommodate the new mobile workforce.

Space Plus: Helping Companies Build Coworking Spaces

How, where, and when we work is changing, and coworking spaces are helping meet the demands of the new workforce.

Thinking about building a coworking space? Space Plus, a division of The Sliding Door Company, specializes in interior door solutions for commercial buildings and office spaces.

Our moveable wall panels and sliding glass doors are sleek and modern, constructed of the highest quality tempered or laminated glass. Our talented team will help you choose from a variety of glass partition designs, glass types, and frame finishes to create a functional, appealing coworking space.

View our gallery for inspiration and learn more about our glass partitions and sliding glass door solutions for office environments here.

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8 Multi-Residence Building Upgrades That Pay Off

If you own a multi-unit rental property, you know that real estate management involves attracting quality tenants, minimizing operating expenses, and maximizing rents. Upgrading your units will entice desirable tenants and encourage them to stay through multiple lease cycles.

Whether you manage a duplex or a sprawling multi-building apartment complex, you can significantly improve the look and functionality of your units and increase your building’s resale value without spending a fortune.

Here are 8 worthwhile upgrades (we don’t include things like painting and cleaning since these are considered basic maintenance):

1: New Interior Doors

Interior glass sliding doors instantly elevate the look of a space and create visual appeal. They’re also highly functional in smaller spaces. Unlike more cumbersome swing doors, sliding doors require a much smaller footprint since they don’t swing out or take up valuable floor real estaste. Sliding glass doors with aluminum frames can be custom designed with various amounts of glass opacity for privacy. This means they can be used everywhere—in bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, and laundry areas. They’re also ideal for dividing two spaces.

2: Wood Flooring

Carpet is outdated and undesirable. It looks great when it’s first installed, but it quickly goes downhill from there. At best you’ll get five years out of new carpet.

On the other hand, tenants love wood flooring. You have opens in a new windowseveral choices: Traditional wood flooring, engineered wood (a quality wood veneer bonded to multiple layers of wood backing), or a faux wood laminate. Bamboo is popular for its sustainability and durability. It’s long-lasting and comes in a wide range of striations and colors.

Whichever option you choose, it will be a considerable upgrade and a better investment than carpeting. Tip: Lighter colors don’t show wear and damage as much as darker colors.

3: Backsplashes

man doing laundry in room

Modern homes and apartments feature contemporary backsplashes in the kitchen and bathrooms almost without questions. Installing attractive backsplashes is a low-cost way to elevate a room with very little effort, especially with the emergence of ready-to-install opens in a new windowinterlocking tile mosaics on mesh backing.

Tip: Choose a design that’s timeless, not trendy. White subway tiles or a mix of gray, black, and white are good choices. Avoid flashy colors or designs.

4: In-Unit Laundry

Treks to an off-site laundromat are a major drawback of being a renter. Upgrading your unit(s) with laundry machines will add instant appeal. In-unit laundry is one of the opens in a new windowtop amenities tenants look for—and they’re willing to pay more for it. Stackable units can fit into even the smallest corners. Conceal the washer/dryer with sliding frosted glass doors to make the space even more desirable.

5: Lighting

As any good interior decorator knows, you can dramatically modernize and improve the look of a space with good lighting. Switch out a dated candelabra chandelier with a opens in a new windowmulti-light pendant fixture. Replace fluorescent strip lighting in the kitchen with dimmable recessed lighting. Upgrade an exposed-bulb vanity light fixture in the bathroom with a more modern choice. New lighting makes all the difference.

6: Upgraded Appliances

Quality appliances top the list of amenities tenants want most. Make your unit more desirable by investing in stainless steel appliances—refrigerator, built-in microwave, and range. Choose ENERGY STAR-certified appliances for greater energy efficiency. Also, replace the kitchen faucet with a retractable, single-handle stainless steel model. These investments will pay off quickly. Units with upgraded appliances can pull in hundreds more in rent per month.

7: Reface Kitchen Cabinets

Ripping out and replacing cabinets and drawers is a costly undertaking and probably unnecessary. Unless the cabinets and drawers are in really bad shape or you’re redoing the layout of the space, cabinet opens in a new windowrefacing or refinishing is a better option. High-quality solid wood door fronts, a fresh coat of paint, and sleek hardware will give cabinets a fresh new look.

Refacing with solid wood doors will likely run between $3,000 and $8,000. If this isn’t in the budget, refinishing the cabinets and drawers and replacing hardware usually runs between $1,500 and $4,000. Adding sliding doors as the pantry entrance saves space and allows for easy access to everything inside from the right, left, and center.

8: Landscaping

Think curb appeal doesn’t matter to renters? Think again. If you’re trying to attract a higher caliber renter, investing in your property’s exterior is especially important. Flowering trees and shrubs attract renters and can help decrease vacancy rates. Make sure your landscaping is well maintained by hiring a regular gardener. Also, ensure walkways, driveways, and other common areas are in good condition with no trip hazards.

Space Plus: Interior Door Solutions for Multi-Unit Residences

Space Plus, a division of The Sliding Door Company, custom designs interior door solutions and glass wall dividers for every need.

Our interior glass doors and multi-family loft dividers can help you affordably maximize square footage and elevate the look of your apartment units. Our custom doors and glass dividers are ideal for living spaces and common areas like gyms and rec rooms. Let our talented team help you choose from a variety of designs, glass types, locks, latches, and frame finishes to help you achieve your desired look.

View our gallery for inspiration and learn more about our glass partitions and sliding glass door solutions for multi-unit residential environments here.