(Co)working in a coliving – Types of workspaces to add to your space

The coliving boom that we are seeing today all over the world takes a good portion of its roots from the coworking movement that happened a few years prior. Even though the term itself is not unheard of before, the model that’s in use today is based on very similar pillars and values that we see in coworking spaces, which makes it something new.

When Covid-19 happened, many people realized how much they needed a community, a place to belong. And in the years before that, coworking spaces proved to be exceptional spots for meeting like-minded people, networking, learning something new, and just building new friendships.

So, led by all these new needs and experiences, a new type of accommodation came to market. Colivings blossomed as spaces that will offer a community, places to work, and healthy work-life balance (much like coworking spaces), but also provide accommodation to stay in and share your day-to-day life with others.

Today, when most people have heard about coliving, they mostly associate it with living and not always with the work part. But, to follow the model made for digital nomads and remote workers, coliving spaces must offer at least some kind of working spaces, if not coworking.

Let’s dive into some of the most common working spaces you can add to your coliving to make the most out of your colivers’ working routine and add to their healthy work-life balance.

Types of working spaces in colivings

Colivings can have different working areas depending on your needs, the vibe, and, of course, the size and layout of your space.

The first difference can be if the space is shared or meant only for one person. Typically, colivings offer a variety of this. Private spaces are needed for privacy, while shared spaces provide more comfort and work amenities. Some colivings can also offer public coworking spaces shared among colivers, but also external members.

Secondly, a coliving can have both indoor and outdoor spaces. Offering an indoor working space is, of course, a must because of the weather changes, noise from the outside, and a more professional environment, but indoor spaces can add a lot to the coliving. For more casual working, being in the air is sometimes the best option.

The difference can also be in the vibe and office culture. Some people are looking for more casual offices where they would chat with coworkers, while some need a more corporate, professional working culture. If you can offer both, do it!

Lastly, the difference can be in the amenities they offer or the type of work they are made for. Working space can be equipped with a projector and a big screen, and have the function of a creative studio or a whiteboard room. It all depends on your customers.

To find the right type of office it’s best to find balance first, then speak to your colivers to see what was good and what was missing and slowly transform the space or spaces to fit their needs.

1) Shared offices (Coworking spaces)

The most typical form of working space in coliving is coworking. First, it is because coworking is like an older sister to coliving, and, secondly, because it is more practical.

It is easier to designate one big room to be the office and equip it fully than to provide all the amenities for each bedroom or each person privately. When you go for a coworking instead of only en-suite offices, you can offer only a few monitors or other office gadgets and equipment that people can share.

People also love shared offices because they give them coworkers – the best part of work that freelancing and digital nomadism took from us.

Working with others has multiple benefits, such as socializing between work, sharing frustrations, and getting inspired by seeing others working.

For a coliving, coworking is the most standard workspace and often the main one.

Quiet Coworking

Shared spaces can also be divided by the culture inside them. This is something that a coliving should communicate beforehand, so everybody is aware of what to expect in which office.

A quiet or silent coworking office can be a handy option if you receive a lot of people working in tech who need time to concentrate and be with their thoughts.

Maybe it seems unnecessary to emphasize this, but people have different experiences, so it is best if you put up signs to remind people to be respectful of others and follow the office rules.

For a silent coworking, these rules might be not to speak over a call with someone, play music out loud, not eat food in the office, constantly walk up and down or use the phone with the sound on, etc.

A quiet coworking should ideally be in an isolated part of the coliving where not a lot of traffic is happening. It should not be a central room that people use only to walk through, or be close to the rowdiest common areas, the kitchen, or central hallways that have people passing all the time. If you cannot isolate the space, make sure you have sound-reducing doors or offer headphones.

Lastly, if you have space only for one coworking space, it is good to apply the quiet rules to it and leave more casual interactions for the communal areas.

Casual Coworking

casual coworking space

Casual coworking offices should, of course, meet all your working needs. When it comes to equipment, these spaces should be the same as any other office. A difference can be in the design, where the desks and chairs should be placed in such a manner that leaves the space open and flowing, the passage clear, and, in a way, encourages walking around, speaking to others, etc.

Casual coworking is there to compensate for the lack of coworkers, inspire socializing, facilitate sharing your workday with others and impose a more relaxed work routine.

It is handy for these spaces to have a snack bar if you can add it, a water tank or a tea and coffee station, maybe a lounge area, or a peaceful game corner where people can chill for a few minutes and share a conversation.

Casual offices can be full of light, have big windows into nature or the streets, and provide a pleasant, peaceful workday environment.

As said before, if your coliving has space only for one coworking, it is best to keep it a bit less casual or divide the room by corners. A good mix would be to write the rules on the board, not keeping it too strict, only respectful, maybe make a quiet corner with a few tables or headphones where people who need more concentration can sit, and on the opposite side put a lounge area or a snack bar where people could hang out.

Lounge areas

Sometimes, lounge areas can be workspaces as well.

Many people like working on the couch with a TV running in the background or just casually working seated in an armchair. In a sense, lounge areas are multifunctional rooms in a coliving.

During the night, these areas can be the best places to play board games or watch a movie, but during the day, while people are either working or exploring the area outside, lounge areas are fairly empty and can be great casual places to have a lazy workday.

In reality, not many colivings offer lounge areas that remind of a typical living room. The reason for this is probably the space.

When building a coliving, most people try to use the space to the fullest, and a big living room is not the most important thing; it is less substantial than bedrooms, the kitchen, the dining area, bathrooms, and outdoor space. However, if you have the room to make a cool, inspiring lounge area, do it because it can do great things for the community.

Independent (external) coworking

Some colivings were born from the coworking spaces directly, and some offer coworking space with accommodation on the side. A place like this will provide coworking for their colivers but also sell coworking spots and desks independently for outside members.

When this is the case, most events or community-building activities are concentrated around coworking, and coliving is a secondary service. External coworkings can be terrific for meeting new people and spicing up the community. They can also open doors to more people than a coliving, especially the locals.

A downside is that you cannot count on the same people to be there daily, and if you are an introvert, it might be stressful to bump into outsiders all the time.

Also, if you’re offering coworking to people outside the coliving, it’s best if the entrance to it is from the outside. You do not want your colivers to have to meet strangers in their homes every day. It is also suitable for these spaces not to be connected with the coliving, but fully external – maybe they can be in the same building or next door.

In our opinion, if you are offering coworking independently, your colivers should have free access to it, but you should also provide a private coliving-only workspace. This space can be much smaller and offer fewer things, but giving your colivers the option to have an internal space just for themselves is always a good choice.

2) Private spaces

Besides shared spaces, coliving should also offer private working spaces for every occasion when a coliver needs more privacy and silence.

In general, private spaces are super important in colivings, or, more specifically, the balance between the private and the communal areas. Everybody’s social battery sometimes runs out, and we need a space to feel comfy and safe alone.

Of course, when working, it is not crucial to have a time-out zone, but another factor makes private working spaces a must in a coliving. So, what is that? Well, different people with different jobs and routines will come into your coliving, and it is simply impossible to have a perfectly designed space for every one of them. You cannot know a person’s working hours or how their environment needs to look, so it is necessary to give them enough flexibility to make a workable space for themselves. 

There are numerous ways to provide more privacy during work to your colivers, so let’s check them out!

En-suite desks

en-suite desks

The most common private working space is the en-suite desk, or every room has a desk and a chair rule. This rule is not very hard to omit as the only two things you need are the desk and the chair. Of course, you probably won’t offer many more amenities, but to be able to work from your room, with a locked door, can be quite a liberating thing, and your colivers will cherish it.

Working from the room is, of course, not the best choice for long-term work as it can obstruct the relaxed environment and sleep routine, so it can definitely not be the only option when it comes to workspaces in your coliving.

All in all, at the same time, a coliving must offer en-suite workspaces, but also workspaces outside the bedrooms. Private rooms are also imperative if you don’t offer Skype rooms or phone booths, as you have to give some options for calls and meetings.

Skype rooms/Phone booths

Skype rooms or Phone booths are small spaces that all coworkings have, or, at least, should have. Most jobs today require at least a bit of meeting and talking with clients and colleagues, so in order not to disturb others, coworking spaces offer soundproof boxes or smaller offices that you can occupy for a bit and do your thing. These rooms, of course, cannot be taken up for the whole day because they are limited and others have to use them, too.

Not many colivings follow this practice, probably because they all offer en-suite desks. But, it can be very useful. It is much more professional to have an office-like background than your bed behind you on the camera. Also, if you are a couple or share a dormitory, it is not very convenient to occupy the shared space. Another disadvantage of having business meetings in your bedroom is that other bedrooms are often around you, and people are passing, making noise, etc.

So, if you can, building at least one Skype room or booth can be beneficial. We can see a great example of this in one coliving in Spain, where they offer not one, but two private rooms that both come with a monitor, and that you can book up to 3 hours per day. These are great for meetings, job interviews, studying, or anything else you need a professional environment for with lots of privacy.

Meeting/Conference rooms

Along with Skype rooms, coworking offices offer at least one or two conference or meeting rooms.

These rooms are often separate offices from the central coworking, closed and soundproof, like the Skype rooms, but they have a big table with multiple seats. Most of these rooms also have a big screen for presentations for conference calls and can seat a team.

In coworkings, you can book these rooms, sometimes free, sometimes for a fee, but most coworking offices offer them.

In colivings, these rooms might not be that important as no frequent team collaborations are happening. However, it is good to have at least one of these rooms that can seat at least five people because colivers sometimes hop on projects together. It is also convenient to have a projector and a big screen and to use these rooms as a presentation room for skill-sharing nights, seminars, or other events in your coliving.

Some colivings are also open to group bookings, retreats, and company workations so a spare meeting room can be handy in these situations.

3) Outdoor working spaces

outdoor coworking in a coliving

One of the reasons people started traveling while working is to be able to work in the open air. Whether it is by the pool, overlooking the ocean, or just under a tree in your garden, being in the fresh air can be a productivity boost.

If your coliving is a house and you have a lot of outdoor areas, you can take a few corners and make them into unofficial outside offices. These nooks should be cozy, natural, and in the shade. For example, you can put a hammock under a tree with a table in front of it or a bench with a simple desk in the garden. Maybe you can build a small gazebo for working or put a cozy corner on the roof.

The only two things to have in mind with these places are to cover them with Wifi and have at least one outlet per seat.

Outdoor spaces are shared spaces, but you can make nooks that scream I want privacy, and we promise people will love them. From our experience, people will always choose to work outside rather than inside if the conditions are good and their needs are met.

4) Creative studios and other creative workspaces

podcast room in a coliving

The last type of workspaces you can find in colivings are spaces that support different creative businesses. Not many colivings have these but it is super cool to see them.

Mostly, these rooms are born because the owners are in the creative industry themselves, so they build a studio for their purposes.

Some of these workspaces we encountered in colivings are art corners with art supplies for painting or pottery, studios for podcasts and music studios with mics and mixers, photography and filming studios with lights and equipment, etc.

Some colivings like to showcase that they target artists or musicians, so for their community, they will much rather offer art studios and creative workspaces than regular offices.

How to choose?

With these many types of workspaces, it might be overwhelming to choose what your place will offer. Especially if you still do not know your customers.

The perfect formula that you cannot go wrong with is:

  1. At least one fully equipped coworking space with monitors (to rent or to use), WLAN cables, good quality desks and chairs, and silent corners.
  2. En-suite simple desk and chair (No. of desks and chairs to equal the number of beds)
  3. Casual, lounge, or outdoor spots with seats at least half of your coliving capacity
  4. Bonus: One small private area for meetings and calls that people can book (free or for a small fee).

The most important thing is that your main workspace doesn’t share the room with another function. As we mentioned in our previous article, under the 6th rule of building a successful coliving (Have a clearly defined and organized living space), all rooms in your coliving should have a clearly defined function.

This means that even if you can have a desk in the bedroom, the main function of a bedroom is to sleep in it, so this cannot be equally shared with another function like working in it. The dining area might be a good spot for working, but since its purpose is to eat there, it cannot be the main working area. And the list goes on.

The rule to follow is: One room – one function, and other functions can happen spontaneously. So, when you are organizing the space, make a list of the functions you need to cover in your coliving, and designate at least one room for each. This is how you will be sure that your colivers have comfort with every one of their crucial needs. And working should be at the top of your list.

Looking for professional help?

Here at MCS, we’ll help you find what works best for your place.
Go ahead and book a free consultation with us.

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