Coworking spaces represent what urban studies theorist Richard Florida calls the “fourth place” for today’s workers. These locations serve a population that isn’t fully supported in a traditional office setting, at a home office, or in an informal “coffee shop” work setting. In a coworking environment, there is an even finer line than normal between the need for socialization and a desire for privacy. Patrons of these establishments are looking for a place to be “alone together” with other people while working. They aren’t collaborating on the same work in any sense, so the need for completely open access to each other isn’t a factor. On the other hand, providing a high level of privacy to the point of isolation isn’t necessary either. If people wanted to be completely alone while they worked, the home office is usually a better option. In fact, the coworking space is specifically designed to offer a little bit of a “buzz” for those who feel uninspired when they aren’t around other people.
There’s Such a Thing as Too Much Chatter
At the same time, high noise levels aren’t appreciated by coworkers. In the “NetWork” white paper sponsored by Allsteel, the authors observe, “In general, clients for coworking spaces seem to prefer a dedicated work environment without the distractions of a café or the hush of a library. Both acoustic dampening and office etiquette tend to lower ambient noise compared to cafés, while encouraging conversations and social interactions.” Acoustic ceiling tile and wall coverings do provide a level of noise control; but desk-mounted panels could also be useful. For example, desks with privacy panels might designate a section of the coworking space as the “heads down” area. This is where patrons would retreat to make the most of a sudden burst of creativity and concentration to complete a specific task.
Panels Add Function Without Fuss
From a visual design perspective, there’s certainly a place for our bold range of polycarbonate privacy panels in the coworking interior. Here’s another excerpt from the NetWork paper, “Coworking spaces are often more minimalist in décor with an emphasis on simple, clean, uncluttered space. Design is pragmatic and focused on a straightforward approach to getting work done. Nonetheless, these spaces are not stark, but attractive, well lit and well furnished.” We like to think that the simple, elegant design of our panel products help make a space more functional without adding clutter. If you are a facilities manager, architect, or commercial interior designer tasked with outfitting a coworking space, we hope you’ll consider our products as a way to enhance your project!