IMPROVINGTHE CO-WORKINGEXPERIENCE
BACKGROUNDWe are obsessive experience designers, and can’t help but think about all the ways to improve the services that ...
KEY FINDINGSWe approached this exploration from a service design perspective – analyzing how the design of the space, faci...
HOW TO USE THIS REPORTThere are 30+ coworking spaces across NYC’s five boroughs and it is hard to understand which spaces ...
INDICATOR SCALE
EXAMPLE ARCHETYPE #1BARE BONES STARTUP SPACEThis type of coworking space is often designed as an open-plan environment and...
MEMBER PERSONABryan                                  “When I founded MyBean, I moved into StartSpace because              ...
EXAMPLE ARCHETYPE #2CONTEMPORARY CUBICLESThis type of space contains mini private and semi-private offices used by both st...
MEMBER PERSONADanica                                “This space provides me with a buzzing and energizing                 ...
EXAMPLE ARCHETYPE #3FREEFORM STUDIO SPACEThis type of space is designed as an open-plan studio environment where individua...
MEMBER PERSONARémi                                    “StudioSpace reflects who I am and how I work - eclectic,           ...
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Improving the Coworking Experience in New York City (NYC)

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We approached this exploration from a service design perspective – analyzing how the design of the space, facilities and amenities offered, staff involvement, and coworker interaction affects the experience and addresses the needs of coworkers in that space.

We found that coworking spaces in NYC cater to a wide range of professionals; from artists, to lawyers, to coders, to filmmakers – and come in many shapes and sizes. Through our exploration of local spaces and their members we realized that there is no one set of standards that all coworking spaces should follow. Companies have a variety of differing requirements and desires in mind during their search for the ideal coworking space.

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Improving the Coworking Experience in New York City (NYC)

  1. 1. IMPROVINGTHE CO-WORKINGEXPERIENCE
  2. 2. BACKGROUNDWe are obsessive experience designers, and can’t help but think about all the ways to improve the services that we are experiencing at anygiven time. We love filling out consumer surveys, and write emails to companies when we have ideas for how they might improve.The idea for this exploration came out of our own experience working in a coworking space. We were intrigued by whether and how a sharedspace can create a sense of community among people from different companies while maintaining a productive environment.Our exploration therefore focuses on the member experience at different types of coworking space in New York City for the purpose ofimproving them.We want to give special thanks to Charlotte Fliegner, our awesome 2012 summer intern who led the research and development of this report.We hope you find this report useful whether you are a coworking founder, manager, or member! - the BYO consulting teamCONTRIBUTORS:Charlotte FliegnerLauren BaierYasmin FodilConcept Development: January - May 2012Research & Analysis: June 2012 - August 2012First Edition Published: October 2012© BYO consulting 2012If you choose to cite from the document please use the following attribution:Improving the Coworking Experience, by BYO consulting, Oct. 2012.For more information contact yasmin@byoconsulting.com.
  3. 3. KEY FINDINGSWe approached this exploration from a service design perspective – analyzing how the design of the space, facilities and amenities offered,staff involvement, and coworker interaction affects the experience and addresses the needs of coworkers in that space.We found that coworking spaces in NYC cater to a wide range of professionals; from artists, to lawyers, to coders, to filmmakers – and comein many shapes and sizes. Through our exploration of local spaces and their members we realized that there is no one set of standards thatall coworking spaces should follow. Companies have a variety of differing requirements and desires in mind during their search for the idealcoworking space.We found that the original values of coworking (collaboration, openness, community, accessibility and sustainability - see coworking.com formore info) do not necessarily resonate with everyone who seeks out coworking opportunities in NYC.For example, imagine a woman who moved to NYC but is still employed remotely by her company in Michigan. Her goals for coworkingare about the social aspect - being around people who she admires and who she might want to grab a beer with after-hours. Requiredcollaboration would not be appropriate for her. Should she be prohibited from coworking?From its title, you might expect a report that tells you what makes for an ideal coworking space. But there is no one-size-fits-all modelhere: the way to improve the coworking experience in this new paradigm is to think critically about the elements that go into the space andunderstanding how they work together to produce the outcomes you are looking for. “Coworking is a style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independ- ent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization. Typically it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation. Coworking is also the social gathering of a group of people who are still working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with like-minded talented people in the same space.” - definition of coworking from Wikipedia on October 18th 2012
  4. 4. HOW TO USE THIS REPORTThere are 30+ coworking spaces across NYC’s five boroughs and it is hard to understand which spaces are suited to which type of work andwhy. Through this exploration we identified a set of indicators that we believe define a coworking space: 1. Collaboration: How much are members encouraged or expected to collaborate on projects? Is collaboration centrally supported and encouraged or do members tend to work in their own teams? 2. Facility Management: What facilities are offered to members, and how are the facilities managed? Are the shared facilities centrally maintained or are members responsible for building upkeep? 3. Customization: Do members have the ability to customize their space and experience? Are members empowered to customize their space or are members not allowed to alter the space? 4. Typical Length of Tenancy: Is the tenancy agreement on a monthly basis or a long-term lease? Do members tend to occupy the space for multiple years or is there fast tenant turnover? 5. Operations: How is the space governed, is it flexible or on a tight structure? Does the space offer highly structured tenant services or does the space lack processes and services? 6. Interaction: In what ways does the space work to build effective interaction amongst its coworking members? Do members tend to get to know each other personally and/or professionally or do they tend to keep to themselves? 7. Professional Development Activities: To what extent do the events held support the professional development of it’s members? Does the space provide highly-curated or custom professional events for members or does the space lack activities?We have used these indicators to create three sample archetypes of coworking spaces. For each archetype we have described its featuresand environment, shown its rating for each indicator, and developed a persona to describe the type of person who might thrive in that typeof space.Our goal with this report is to describe some of the different types of coworking spaces in NYC and: 1. help potential coworkers understand the elements that make up a coworking space so that they can make an appropriate decision about where to work. 2. enable coworking space founders and managers to create environments and experiences that meet the needs of their specific communities.Please note that every coworking space will rank differently for each indicator -- there are limitless combinations -- and the positive ornegative implications of each rating depend on the individual coworker.We offer these archetypes merely as examples. We encourage you to evaluate your space using our set of indicators to understand to howwell your space ranks in areas that are important to you.The way that these indicators interact determines the sense of community and productivity that members will experience. While we cannotoffer specific advice about how to improve feelings of community or productivity within the constraints of this report, we hope that theframework provided helps you think critically about the design of coworking spaces.
  5. 5. INDICATOR SCALE
  6. 6. EXAMPLE ARCHETYPE #1BARE BONES STARTUP SPACEThis type of coworking space is often designed as an open-plan environment and is typically used by technology-based startups. Thesespaces usually serve between 50 to 75 people. Many of these spaces have a combination of dedicated and drop-in spots available for use.Companies who pay for dedicated space are given a desk and access to shared facilities that may include: conference rooms, kitchenette,mailbox/mailing address, and free or reduced-cost printing. Drop-in workers can purchase a membership to work a set amount of time perweek or month, or purchase a day pass if their needs are more sporadic.Startups often use this type of space as a temporary place to grow until they are ready to seek a private office of their own. Because of thistemporary nature, companies within the space may not get to know one another and space managers have less incentive to invest in themember experience (facilitating interaction and collaboration between members, providing member services like onboarding or a front-deskattendant) This is not neccesarily a bad thing -- it is a way to keep costs down for emerging companies. The open-plan design of thesespaces make them conducive to events and many space managers take advantage of this fact -- holding free and paid events that may ormay not be related to companies or industries within the space.
  7. 7. MEMBER PERSONABryan “When I founded MyBean, I moved into StartSpace because the location and month to month lease made it a convenientAge: 29Title: Founder, MyBean, a website to workspace. I think I’ll be here for 1 year total.”share recipes through social mediaSpace: StartSpace, Flatiron Mindset & motivation: A day in the life: After working in the hospitality industry, Bryan arrives at the space at 9:30am in Bryan saw the potential for combining two time for a 10am meeting with potential of his interests - technology & cooking. investors. He has booked the conference That is how he started MyBean, an online room already using the online StartSpace portal for sharing recipes. Initially working web portal, and goes straight to his from his apartment, when he hired his desk to turn his computer on and begin first part-time staff member, he outgrew printing out the meeting’s agenda. While the home office and moved to StartSpace. there are shared printers, Bryan prefers He is in the process of launching MyBean the ease and reliability of having his after successfully closing a Friends and own. At 10am, he is ready for the meeting Family Round. and stands by the entrance to meet the meeting attendees and shows them to Attitude towards working in a the conference room. He has brought his coworking space: own catering to the meeting, consisting of Bryan is provided with the facilities snacks, coffee and cold beverages. He has to get his work done - a desk space, also brought his own markers and pens to quiet atmosphere and a strong internet use the whiteboard and flipcharts. Ending connection. He chose StartSpace because his meeting by 11am, in time for the next of its location and conference room, co-workers’ conference room reservation, making it easy to meet with investors. he shows his guests to the door. Attitude towards working in a coworking community: While Bryan is interested in the startups who work around him, he doesn’t really pay much attention to them and is quite happy to work independently of his neighboring co-workers. He is mostly focused on getting sh*t done.
  8. 8. EXAMPLE ARCHETYPE #2CONTEMPORARY CUBICLESThis type of space contains mini private and semi-private offices used by both startups and more established businesses. These coworkingspaces vary greatly in size -- some have room for 8 companies while others are multi-storey buildings with 20 companies on each floor.Usually, the space is laid out with many offices or cubicles stacked up against each other along the outer walls of the building. Althoughthese offices provide private individual spaces for each company, most of the other facilities are shared. Members have access tokitchenettes, conference rooms, and lounges. This setup allows members to experience the energy and buzz of a shared studio space andthe opportunities for interaction and community building that come along with it -- while still maintaining a private and customizableenvironment.People who use these spaces tend to pay more and stay longer, investing time and money into their personal space. Managers of thesespaces therefore tend to invest more heavily in member services - people will not pay premium rates unless they receive high qualityservices. There will usually be a reception area of some kind, ranging from a front desk to a dedicated lobby. Coworking space staff mayinclude receptionists, community managers, event coordinators, and cleaning staff. Events are commonly held in the shared spaces(attended by members and non-members) and range from monthly lecture series, to networking happy hours, to Skillshare classes tohackathons.
  9. 9. MEMBER PERSONADanica “This space provides me with a buzzing and energizing environment where I can escape to my own little area and beAge: 36Title: Partner, graphic design firm super productive -- and it’s nice enough to bring clients to.”Space: Cubed, Lower East Side Mindset & motivation: A day in the life: When Danica & her business partner Danica arrives into the office at 11am. Jenny decided to start their own graphic Friday mornings usually start a little design firm, a coworking space seemed later than the usual 10am start time. like the first logical step. They chose Her business partner Jenny is off-site Cubed because of the private offices with a client, so she turns up her favorite which offer a quiet work environment, music and gets to work. Danica switches along with the convenience of shared between hand drawing and computer, facilities which they are constantly using and has a large desk to accommodate for (like the lounge and kitchen). They were both. At noon, she goes to the kitchen to also attracted to the social events, as they make some coffee - provided by Cubed - seemed like good opportunities to meet and to chat with neighboring co-workers. other designers and potential clients. They plan to meet at 6:30pm for Friday drinks at the bar across the street. At Attitude towards working in a 2pm, Danica goes downstairs to the cafe coworking space: to buy lunch, and brings it back to Cubed, For Danica, Cubed provides her with a where she reads the news online while great environment to work creatively and eating. At 2:30pm, Jenny gets back from effectively. She feels it is impressive to her meeting and they spend the rest of bring clients to her office space, which the day working together on a mock-up is filled with light and decorated with of a poster. At 6:30pm, Danica texts her examples of the firm’s work. co-worker buddies to see if they are still up for drinks. Attitude towards working in a coworking community: Danica enjoys being surrounded by creative people everyday. For this reason, she greatly values her fellow co-workers, and has come to know them through the social events run by Cubed.
  10. 10. EXAMPLE ARCHETYPE #3FREEFORM STUDIO SPACEThis type of space is designed as an open-plan studio environment where individuals and small teams work in a segmented area withina larger space. A member’s space may include desks and/or work tables, while large work tables, conference rooms, kitchenettes, andequipment are available for shared use. These spaces are typically used by people in creative industries and/or people who make things.It’s a casual and informal environment that is conducive to the creative process. Members tend to manage many aspects of the spacethemselves -- taking on more responsibility and ownership than a co-worker in a more structured space would. That means there may notbe a receptionist, janitor, official onboarding process, or extensive events program. However, members may take the initiative to create andhost events at will.Members of these spaces tend to rent space on a longer-term basis, working there for years rather than months. They see don’t see it as astepping stone to a more private space, they see it as the idea environment in which to create. They form their own community, spendingtime together personally as well as professionally -- and may form collaborations with each other.
  11. 11. MEMBER PERSONARémi “StudioSpace reflects who I am and how I work - eclectic, informal, a bit chaotic, friendly, and community-oriented.”Age: 43Title: Founder, architecture practiceSpace: StudioSpace, Brooklyn Mindset & motivation: A day in the life: After leaving a large firm to start his own Rémi arrives at 9:30am to the studio, practice four years ago, Rémi needed a and locks his the bicycle in the storage space which would provide the creative room downstairs before taking a shower and inspirational work environment he after his 30 minute commute. At 10am he longed for. StudioSpace offered that sits down at his desk to check his emails shared working environment, and there and make a few phone calls as the space were even a few other architects in the is quiet in the morning due to most co- space. workers typically arriving around 10:30. He moves on to working on a study model Attitude towards working in a at the shared table, where the studio coworking space: keeps shared materials for model making. Rémi thrives off the eclectic work At lunch, Rémi makes himself and some environment at StudioSpace, he finds the colleagues a vegetarian stir fry, and they atmosphere to be a conducive workspace. sit together around the large kitchen He also finds the shared facilities such table to eat together. In the afternoon, as the materials library and kitchen to be Rémi returns to his desk to work from the helpful to his work style. computer, while his colleagues continue to work on the model. At 3pm, they break for Attitude towards working in a a quick meeting around the shared table. coworking community: At 7:30pm, Rémi cycles home. Having been an original member at StudioSpace when it opened, Rémi feels very much a part of his coworking community. He has started to organize monthly “show & tells” which are an opportunity for members to casually share their work with one another.

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