A brightly lit work office with three people in. One lady sits at a desk in front of a laptop speaking on the phone as she sips from a mug. The other two ladies are holding documents and walking around the room

How the world of co-working can be more inclusive

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10/02/20
LinkedIn

It doesn’t take a trained eye to see that the world is becoming increasingly diverse – and what a wonderful sight it is to see.

This of course filters into the working world, which has transformed into a psychedelic spectrum of assorted identities. Again, particularly true when it comes to coworking spaces, which are the melting pots of the professional realm.

The challenge today? Fostering workspaces which enable each and every unique identity and ability to flourish equally.

The solution? Putting your approach to coworking under the microscope and identifying how and where it could become more inclusive – beyond the box-ticking associated with standard diversity and inclusion practices.

We’ve got some pearls of wisdom to impart on the matter when it comes to your physical surroundings…

Workspace design beyond trend-setting

Leading North West office design and fit out company, Penketh Group recently released a new report called Inclusive Workplaces: The Future of Office Design & Culture.

The report revealed some brow-raising statistics including how more than a quarter of UK offices are still lacking in wheelchair access.

So, in order for a coworking space to be encompassing, design decisions need to be about more than just bells, whistles, wallpapers and plant pots. Look at the layout of your space, the facilities it offers and even small details like the height of surfaces – are they accessible to people of all physical abilities, heights and mobility?

Could two wheelchair users pass each other in a walkway? Do you maybe need to invest in some height-adjustable furniture so that residents of all statures can comfortably make use of the space? Your designer chairs might look great but do they support the significant part of the working population with musculoskeletal problems?

In fact, according to the report, an inclusive office design is now a higher priority for employees than things like private healthcare and free gym memberships when considering employment options.

Nearly 70% would now actually even turn down an employment opportunity due to a poor environment of insufficient facilities.

Plenty of food for thought there, right?

Create a multifunctional space for a plethora of uses

Man sat on a yoga mat holding a water bottle and wiping his head with his hand

Other key findings from the same report demonstrated that:

  • 40% of 25-34-year olds would like to see facilities for new mums in workplaces of the future
  • 23% of 18-24-year olds would like to see more meditation and yoga spaces in the workplace

So, in order to give the emerging generations of talent what they’re looking for in a modern working environment, we recommend having a multifunctional space which can be used for a variety of different activities.

Whether it’s breast feeding (or expressing), lunchtime yoga, morning meditation or afternoon prayer – a versatile, designated area which can be made private is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury for offices and coworking spaces today.

Other things you could (or should) be doing:

Finetuning your Code of Conduct and house rules – Make sure you’ve got all the right policies and practices in place to ensure the company you keep matches your own mantra and morals for the space.

Introducing a mental health mentor – This could be a trained-up member of your community staff or an external person, who can offer a shoulder, as well as official advice for those struggling with mental health issues.

Being a springboard for all levels of learning – A combination of tech-free spaces, private workspaces and digital working zones is a great example of how you can cater to a variety of personalities, learning styles and mental capacities.

Making sure your events schedule is eclectic – Coworking communities are social by their very nature but don’t forget this doesn’t always need to be steered by alcohol, for example. Show steps to becoming more inclusive by diversifying your events schedule to appeal to members from every pocket of society.

Click to download Penketh Group’s full Inclusive Workplaces: The Future of Office Design & Culture report

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