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Five Design Trends to Look For in Co-working Spaces The future world of work is going to be impacted by a lifestyle of customized preferences, personal development, and social responsibility

By Robin Chhabra

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Over the past two to three years, co-working spaces in India have gone through an explosive transformation. Though, at the time there were some emerging co-working players in the pipeline, it was mainly defined by business centers and by homes/ small commercial spaces being converted into the shared domain. Fast forward to today and one of the major redefinitions that took place was the use of design in redefining the shared workspace model.

These spaces, began to look at how architecture and interior design could directly make an impact on the productivity and comfort of businesses and working individuals. The future world of work is going to be impacted by a lifestyle of customized preferences, personal development, and social responsibility. Hence, it becomes critical to evolve our design approach when designing co-working spaces of the future. Here are five ways in which design shall adapt:

1. Research Based Design

Going forward, using research of existing co-working spaces to help inform design methodologies will be vital. Co-working operators are studying how companies use their spaces to analyze optimal utilization. This data will help give designers incredible insights which in turn would lead to the creation of better workplace environments. Increasingly, co-working spaces are trying to use design as a tool to enable member work effectiveness. Having a space where one can pin up, scribble or ideate gives members the flexibility on how to work. This along with spaces to be able to focus are equally important. Phone booths, library spaces, quiet corners provide great nooks to zone in and get some work done. This gives team members the freedom on how to structure their day in and around the office and this eventually helps boost employee effectiveness.

2. More Flexibility

Going forward co-working spaces will need to be even more fluid in accommodating the changing needs of businesses. Companies expand, contract or sometimes change the way they work and all of this impacts their space requirements. Here design, technology and construction methodologies will need to come together to innovate on how we build. Research labs are already looking at smart technologies where moving walls and furniture can help reconfigure a room in a matter of minutes. The reality of these technologies might still be some time away, in the meantime planning for flexibility in the design stages help meet the changing requirements of companies without much pain. The more co-working spaces become flexible the more it shall be of value to their members.

3. Healthy Environment

Design of co-working spaces will facilitate mental and physical wellness via the creation of a healthier environment to enable creativity and focus. Great lighting and a matured use of aesthetics can bring vibrancy and help increase positivity in the workplace (don't just use primary colours!). Indoor environments in modern glass buildings can be quite isolating as the connection with the external environment reduces. Co-working spaces will look at ways of bringing more of the outdoors indoors and the use of plants here helps a lot. Leafy landscaping adds a softness to the space and also proves to be calming. Lastly, the use of art will help give co-working spaces a unique edge. These spaces can be great outlets for architects and designers collaborating with the new-age young or the traditionalist Indian artists to provide a unique identity that can potentially make them hashtag worthy.

4. Sustainability

Embracing the idea of sustainability will be important for successful and futuristic workplaces. The design and construction of built environments have huge impact on our resource dwindling world. From decisions such as choosing water-saving bathroom fixtures to using renewable materials like bamboo can help reduce the carbon footprint. Knowing that the space you inhabit respects the environment is also a great feel good factor for members.

5. Design As an Enabler

As the number of co-working spaces increase, so will the need to differentiate and here design will play a big role. Co-working spaces will be looking at cross pollinating business models eg. having a crèche or perhaps a yoga and fitness center within a co-working space. Design will enable the efficient use of space, and help manage the mixing of two or more models.

All in all, the focus will be on human centered design where it would be all about the experiences and connections we make. Keeping the focus on the overall member experience will help enhance productivity, health and well-being, which in turn will ensure continuity in the dividends co-working spaces create for companies.

Robin Chhabra

Founder and CEO, Dextrus

After schooling at Winchester College in the UK, Robin Chhabra earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture, as well as a Master of Architecture from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Having worked on projects as diverse as theatre set design and heritage hotels with boutique architecture firm Kay Ngee Tan Architects in Singapore, Robin Chhabra joined the award-winning team at Serie Architects in Mumbai

Recognising the need to provide path-breaking thinkers with a work space that offers all the finesse of a top-notch office with none of the fuss involved in maintaining it, Robin Chhabra founded Dextrus in 2018.Spread across 15,000 square feet, Dextrus aims to delight from a visual standpoint. The aesthetics are warm, clean and simple, yet the space is alive with a tangible sense of surprise and freshness. A combination of gold and white reflects simplicity and prestige, while the occasional pop of pink, green and dark grey are amalgamated into the design to offer warmth and visual delight. Perfectly pruned plants add freshness, while textures such as the CNC-cut patterned wood panels and lime-plaster ceilings bring depth and texture. Indian artwork is used to highlight dexterity and skills of local artisans, thereby bringing home the idea of work and livelihoods.

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