The Global Coworking Unconference Conference, also known as GCUC, held its three-day 2017 event in the heart of New York City. Programming kicked off with a full day of top-notch speakers; the second day followed an unconference format in which participants both nominated session topics and facilitated them; and the event closed out with a fully immersive coworking camp experience.
While the conference’s official theme was “the future of work,” the emergent theme was that of community building. This topic ran through all of the crowdsourced unconference topics, which included building partnerships, forming regional collectives, operating coworking spaces in small towns, wellness, and social impact. The PLASTARC team took a particular interest in these discussions, as we continue to explore how coworking community management can inform employee-centric initiatives in the corporate workplace context.
We also particularly enjoyed joining the Women Who Cowork session, in which attendees discussed how to make coworking more gender-inclusive. Best practices and lessons learned about attracting more female members were shared, and ways to promote gender inclusivity among members and make coworking sites safe for all were brainstormed by the group.
The sessions on profitability, coworking business models, and space design were oriented around the theme of flexibility in all aspects of coworking. From membership options to phone booth space types, facilitating users’ needs and remaining competitive in the market requires that coworking providers be able to change and adapt. Therefore, spaces need to be multifunctional and transformable. Just make sure you have an ample supply of power outlets!
We found that the conversation about multipurpose spaces dovetailed with the presentation we gave at last year’s GCUC in Los Angeles, titled “Multisensory Design: The Future of Workplace UX.” When organizations undertake the process of outfitting their spaces with more transformable furniture, multipurpose rooms, and flexible layouts, it’s the perfect time for them to think about design that addresses occupants’ five senses, as well—a goal achievable by employing diverse natural materials like wood and cotton, aromatherapy accents in restrooms and lobbies, and a mix of acoustical environments that range from library-quiet to cafe-convivial.
Finally, our team joined the community building group for the event’s last session, in which conference-goers shared community building roadblocks they’ve successfully addressed with crowdsourcing solutions. As the discussion focused on behavioral nudging, the PLASTARC team urged the group to consider how spatial design impacts social behavior. For example, since the reception area is the first space experienced by a visitor to an office, it’s important to think carefully about how it sets the tone. Adjacent spaces and activities should also be considered: if reception is part of a larger lounge or community space, the energy of the people present in those areas will also inform a visitor’s first impression.
From visual adjacency to organizational transparency and beyond, the topics explored at GCUC 2017 were all core to PLASTARC’s ongoing research into how spatial design impacts individual and team behavior—and therefore, ultimately, organizational performance as well.