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Coworking by design

Our work spaces influence our productivity and creativity, so choose wisely.

Workplace design has a profound impact on creativity.

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Now that coworking spaces have gone mainstream in major cities, there are countless options to choose from. So how do you know which space is right for you?

Besides price and location, obviously, one often overlooked factor to consider is the space itself.

“What the workplace looks like, how it’s laid out and how it feels has a 100 percent relationship to productivity and workflow and creativity,” says Wendy Nuñez-Formickella, asenior interior designer and studio director at MKDA, a design firm specializing in workspaces.“When you work in a [place] that’s not comfortable, properly lit or where the air isn’t flowing properly, it takes a toll on your wellbeing.”

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Particularly for contractors and creative types, the space might serve as a sort of sanctuary away from the distractions of home — making the layout and design all the more important.

"The trend today is just to always be on, always be thinking, and always be creative. And this whole 9 to 5 thing doesn't necessarily make as much sense, especially in the creative fields....its kind of nice to know you can go somewhere and just focus for as long as you need to, and get those thoughts on paper instead of just home and being distracted by whatever might be there."

Nunez gave us a few pro tips on what to consider while assessing the physical space in your potential new office:

Accessibility and design of common spaces:Kitchens, pantries and bathrooms are very important in a shared space, saysNuñez-Formickella. Pay attention to how far away the bathrooms and the pantry rom the furthest point, and what the walking patterns in the office are like.

Then notice the materials they're made from. "We're seeing a lot of wood [in coworking spaces], because everything was so white and metal for so long. But with these open environments, you want to create a sense of intimacy. What is really the easiest way to bring that in? It's the natural warmth of bringing the outdoors in, especially when people are working long hours."

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Options for privacy:Even in a shared space, a little privacy is necessary, says the expert. Find out if there are private lockers available, and ifyou can move furniture around or use temporary panels to provide boundaries in open areas for meeting. Are there smaller support spaces for one-on-one conversations, and is there space for privacy cones within a cubicle?

Networking opportunities:Because coworking 2.0 is about more than finding a place to park your laptop — networking and creating community are key aspects of joining a space —there’s more to consider when making a membership commitment.Are their events? Is there a communal space within the company? What are the expectations for interaction? Understand not just the layout of space, but expectations for its use.

Atmosphere and aesthetics:Whens she's designing spaces, Nuñez-Formickella always thinks of line of sight — so that everyone can share in that open feeling of windows no matter where they sit — as well as lighting. “I love creating a dynamic ceiling height, so going from entryways to a beautiful open area that kind of create this sense of that open into a beautiful ideas, it’s a flow of ideas, It's all mental, right? So you walk into a space and you go into an open area, that’s just very creative and inspiring." These small details, she says, can make you feel more at home.

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