In a 2014 article for WorkDesign Magazine, a respected leader in workplace innovation Gary Miciunas wrote:
The hot topic of “coworking” might be a contender to replace cubicles.
Said in another way: bye-bye cubicles, hello coworking!
In the same article, Miciunas goes onto write how the abandonment of the office cubicle will forever change the way offices are designed, boiling it down to a simple theory.
He calls it the “three Cs” of modern workplace design.
The “three C’s” model was intended to serve as a guide for designing office spaces of the future and includes three components: concentration, collaboration, and community.
First, concentration means individual workers should have a designated place where one can work undisturbed and be fully immersed in their work without distractions or interruptions.
Second, collaboration points to the need for collaborative space where colleagues can share ideas and conduct meetings and brainstorm in a private setting.
Third, the community is designated space for all non-work activities, including events, mingling, eating, socializing, and simply bringing people together.
In short, an optimal coworking space must be dedicated to all three C’s.
But is there a perfect ratio between the three? The answer might surprise you.
Simply put, there is no perfect ratio. But past coworking business failures and successes have allowed coworking professionals to identify some trusted guidelines for ideal ratios for optimal floor planning in a coworking space.
The ideal space ratio
Traditional office design is characterized by a 70/30 ratio.
Meaning 70% of the space is dedicated to workers individual or "concentration" space, giving workers, on average, 250-300 individual square feet. And 30% (or less) is dedicated to collaborative and community space. This ratio is becoming ancient history, and office design is moving towards a 50/50 ratio.
This ratio is becoming ancient history and office design is moving towards a 50/50 ratio.
Now, less space is dedicated to individual work. Sleek laptops and almost zero need for storage and paperwork mean workers require less space for individual work.
Collaborative space & individual space
According to a 2018 article by allwork, the average coworking space size is estimated at 22,300 sq ft.
Of course, there is a great deal of variability in the size of coworking spaces across the world, but regardless of the absolute size, what all coworking space owners must aim for is striking the right balance between collaborative space and private space.
Thankfully, a 2018 DeskMag article on coworking, space profitability can provide us with some useful insights on the topic!
According to DeskMag, coworking businesses that offer a well-rounded space are the most profitable. As they succinctly put it, “More private offices secure financial sustainability, more meeting spaces can damage it.”
In short, a space offering should be diversified.
Part of your floor plan should be devoted to private offices for teams, but there should also be space allocated to dedicated desks.
As for conference rooms, i.e. "collaborative spaces," there is such thing as too much.
A relationship has been found between unprofitable workspaces an excess of meeting spaces. A coworking business rule of thumb: Meeting rooms shouldn't occupy more than 25% of the floor space.
With this information in mind, you can now go onto designing an optimal floor plan that will serve the needs of your target audience, but also help your business maximize profitability.
When designing your space, always keep in mind the three C's: concentration, collaboration, and community.
A well-designed workspace should take into consideration the three C's and strike a healthy balance between them.