International Adventures In Coworking
Imagine you needed to get a lot of work done, but you needed a change of scenery from sitting at your office desk for the day.What dream space would you transport yourself to get some work done?
Would it be inside or outside? Would there be good coffee on demand or a pool to soak your feet in as you took a call? Would you work lounging in a hammock or comfortably in a personal office with a dog laying at your feet? Would you take a 45 minute break to do some yoga because it was available? Would you work barefoot all day or take a 15-minute power nap in a nap room?
Welcome to the world of ever-evolving co-working spaces, where there is quite literally a thoughtfully designed environment for every work style. And as I've been exploring the world over the past nine months, traveling to four continents and eleven countries, I've continued my work as a Graphic Design Lead for our firm. Working remote has exposed me to a whole other world while traveling, learning cultural normalcies and absorbing best practices of what "working" does, and can, look like.
A big part of my adventure in exploring professional working environments internationally has led me to coworking spaces, that seem to generate just as much buzz internationally as they are nationally, and facilitate some truly fantastic maker spaces for ideation and innovation.
Chelsea working on a design remotely in a coworking space in Saigon, Vietnam.
I’m not exactly sure when co-working took off and metamorphosized into awesome, functional and inspiring spaces around the globe, but it’s been pretty exciting to watch and experience firsthand.
Forbes seems to think it’s been in the last five years that “the concept has taken hold across industries. Co-working today is booming as a new generation of entrepreneurs, consultants, freelancers, and corporate organizations re-think the overhead costs of business and the value of collaborative work.” For those that may not be as familiar, here’s a rundown of the basics of a co-working space.
At a minimum, a co-working space should offer a place to work for various individuals with fast, reliable internet and both open and private areas to work.
Beyond that, the sky’s the limit. Leather couches and Packman? Sure. Fitness classes and a barista? Check!
Eclectic coworking office, Fabrika in Tbilisi, Georgia
These days, it seems that co-working spaces have started to adopt the Live, Work, Play attitude of mixed-used developments, where they shatter the tired mold of what an office “should be” and foster an engaging, creative hub fulfilling wants and needs beyond a space to work.
Biliq Bali, located in Bali, Indonesia, coworkers are surrounded with beautiful murals of greenery, a central pool with work stands for dipping your feet in while working, a calendar featuring a slew of creative workshops available, as well as two office pups running around making everyone smile. Biliq is a co-working space that goes above and beyond just a space to work. They very authentically showcase their values of work/play balance as well as health and wellness.
Co-working environments form micro-communities where a spectrum of people can not only work to their own pace and comfort level but cross-pollinate ideas with new people outside their network, industry and age group. For example, in Porto Portugal at I/O Porto, digital nomad mixers are regularly held for everyone working in the office, which constantly changes, to get to know each other on a personal level to knit the office community together, giving travelers or expats a sense of belonging within an unfamiliar city. More often than not, there is a tangible eagerness for community for those that pay to join co-working spaces, as they could always work from home or a coffee shop in solitude. As great as flexible schedules can be, sometimes we all just crave a little socialization and collaboration.
On the other side of the world, back home, our firm recently completed the design work on our first coworking space, Novel Coworking, located in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Novel is Cincinnati’s newest coworking space, renting private offices, office suites and coworking memberships built to elevate businesses. Designed inside the Hooper Building, a National Historic Landmark built in 1893, the coworking space located at the heart of Downtown Cincinnati within the West Fourth Street Historic District. A Queen Anne style building, the nearly 15’ tall ceilings add to the defining characteristics of the 7 story building. Our team recently worked on the 13,000+ SF design, renovation the second floor entirely, as well as sections of the first floor, and additions to the space, including a mailroom. Encompassing windows engulf the walls of the second floor, standing at 10’ tall by 8’ wide, revealing a stunning view of the city and providing natural light to illuminate the space.
Much like what I've seen throughout my travels, amenities of Novel are all-encompassing, ranging from local craft beers on tap, a 24/7 espresso bar and a calendar of coworking community events to foster connectivity and cultivate creativity.
So who is meant to work in co-working spaces anyways? Entrepreneurs and location independent graphic designers and coders? Yes, they are welcome but no that isn’t the only clientele. Coworking spaces are meant for just about anyone as they are intended to be spaces that facilitate efficient, independent work. Even if you have a great office, try popping in a co-working space on the weekend to do some personal planning or reading. It is a great change of scenery and opens you up to a unique group of people that you might normally never encounter.
As many of the jobs in our world, as well as more specific jobs in our design industry, continue to become more location independent, coworking spaces serve as vital touchdown spaces that ground people back into a community while still providing the freedom to work in whichever way is best for an individual.
Novel Coworking in Cincinnati
Graphic Design Lead
Chelsea has a B.S. in landscape architecture from The Ohio State University. Since March 2018 she has been traveling the world with her husband, staying for a few weeks in each place, acquiring an appreciation for different cultures' food, traditions and design.