With flexible working becoming more and more preferred particularly among Millennials striving for a better work-life balance, it is projected that by 2020, 40% of the UK workforce will be self-employed. This has led to concerns that isolation and loneliness will also increase, so what can we, as designers, do to address this?
Second Home Offices, Spitalfields
Coworking spaces such as Second Home have seen a steady increase in recent years, offering freelancers, temps and ‘solopreneurs’ somewhere to set up camp, work and more importantly, socialise. It is estimated, globally, that the number of Coworking spaces has increased by over 11,000% in the last 10 years. This illustrates just how quickly and sharply the attitudes towards working has changed, with the likes of Second Home taking advantage of this sea-change. As well as the offices in Spitalfields, the company have another 3 in London alone, and others in Europe and North America. All of Second Homes properties follow a similar formula, with workspaces, meeting rooms and private offices, alongside bathroom and shower facilities, cafes and even a bar in each location.
Second Home Offices, Lisbon
The people behind Coworking spaces all share a similar ethos; they want to support the growth of jobs and industry locally, nationally and globally. The statistics show that this seems to be working, with those using these spaces reporting incomes, in some cases, 50% higher than the national average, and the numbers of those using these spaces increasing by almost 15% year on year. In London alone it is reported that around 100,000 sqm is taken up by flexible working spaces.
The Little Wings @ The Wings, New York
It is not just the workers themselves who are being considered in this new wave of flexible working, even their families are being catered for, as demonstrated by Little Wings, the daycare department at the female only Coworking space, The Wings. The children’s area mirrors that of the grown-ups, using ‘Wing Pink’ and an eclectic mix of furniture with an extra helping of fun. The aim of this space is to create somewhere in which the parents will feel comfortable, spending time relaxing after a day’s work and encouraging parents to network with each other, making new connections.
The Collective, Seattle
The Collective, Seattle, describe themselves as an ‘urban basecamp’ which aims to provide its diverse community a place to thrive and collaborate. Essentially this is a place to work and socialise, with the added fun of a hammock garden, pictured above. Although many of the users of The Collective work in the tech industry, there are spaces within the building where they are actively discouraged from using any technology at all.
UFO Space, Rio Grande do Sul
The concept behind the UFO Space in Brazil is, you guessed it, the physics of outer space. The architects, Mov.in, created walls containing ‘floating rocks’, the walls are of differing heights depending on the level of privacy needed within a space. It is these walls, according to the four founding members, which entice people in to explore the space. Interestingly, the architects, who were all male and aware that women might use working spaces differently to man, employed a female consultant to work alongside them on the project. They believe that is was this collaboration which helped to create a diverse layout.
The Nest has been designed by Beza Projekt, using the Danish concept of hygge, to create a new generation of workspaces which are homely and relaxed. The interior architects are aware that the lines between work and leisure are becoming blurred, and rather than fighting this new wave of working we should instead adapt to it. Located inside a towering steel and glass structure, Beza was keen to introduce a softer style to the interiors, using rounded corners to offset the angular form of the exterior, simple materials and complementary colours, to create a stress-free environment.
We all know how hard it can be to create a good work/life balance, and this is something which all the projects here have in common. Shared working spaces aid those who want to control their own working hours, and those designing these spaces want to allow for this holistic working approach. These spaces promote comfort and fun, whilst remaining ultra-cool so as to attract this new generation of workers. Those using shared spaces are looking for something which cannot be found in the average office, and not just for themselves, but for their family. Clear, strong concepts are important however the ability to adapt to those using the space, above all, is paramount.