Traditionally, office spaces used to be designed to provide personal space for a worker to have a sense of privacy and independence. Gradually, either due to space constraints or more project-related teamwork, the design of office spaces underwent changes with more common areas and less cubicles.
This was intended to enhance intra-team exchanges, consultation and joint work. Each worker still has a designated desk or workstation with some semblance of privacy, but there were also places for designated collaboration.
Following these changes, the third iteration of workspace happened around the time when large numbers of individual workers occupied massive spaces for service industry companies. This was the beginning of an era where workplace became synonymous with laptop/desktop and mobility was the key factor.
With the rapid transformation of the workforce into an environment of white-collar brain-workers, physical space has become less of a requirement. Now, anyone with the required supportive technology and gazette can function without disruption from virtually anywhere.
With this came a shift in metrics of performance (for example: the number of hours logged at work versus output delivered within a timeline,) which created a sense of freedom from the physical routine and workplace-related rituals. The evolution of technology enhanced remote working and dispersed team work. The sense of personal freedom became a dominant factor in determining where and how one wants to work. Thus started a wave of independent working, with people making diverse places their office , such as the home, café, dining spaces, restaurants and so forth.
Coworking as a concept gained traction when these common and open spaces offered flexibility and individual space or privacy was deprioritized. In such an environment, there is less control over how much one can meet and discuss business with clients, team members or others. Coworking compensates for this by offering a sense of individual privacy and freedom to carry out one’s work. At the same time, it offers the option to meet and share things with others (if and when required).
Coworking is, therefore, not a replacement of traditional workspaces or a free-flowing workplace like a café, but a combination of the advantages offered by both. Individuals opting to cowork have the freedom, independence and liberty to work the way they want with the schedule, pace or timing they want. And yet, they also have the sense of belonging to a place or certain community, which can inspire a sense of identity.
Coworking appeals to individuals who are looking for a balance between these two aspects. Of paramount importance is the freedom to be part of a wider group while also having a personal sense of privacy in a non-intrusive environment.
It is therefore important for the coworking community to recognize this twin aspect and not cramp the space like a business center. Even with hot-desking, shifting desks and mobile workstations, coworking spaces must give users exclusiveness and privacy. Needless to say, people select a coworking space in order to be effective and generate the desired output that stems from being in a conducive environment. The imperative is to organize the space in a way that group interactions are not obtrusive to others around, and there is a feeling of one’s own space to accomplish the work without interruption or intrusion.
This article was originally published on Dola Mohapatra Medium.com