Case Study: Co-working Space and Office Building at The Social Enterprise Hub

In order to create an inclusive environment for their co-working space and office building, the Social Enterprise Hub completed training and a transformation project with Sensory Friendly Solutions. The objective was straightforward, but impactful: create a more sensory-friendly experience for Hub tenants in their co-working space and their respective clients and customers throughout the building.

Customized training from Sensory Friendly Solutions included several key steps:

  • Multiple training sessions with key team members from the Hub.
  • A full sensory audit of the Hub, inside and outside the building, across each of the 8 senses.
  • Conduct a poll of Hub business tenants to evaluate their sensory experience in the building.
  • Provide of a detailed report with a range of easy to implement accessiblity solutions.
  • Assist with funding applications to access funding to make sensory-friendly changes as part of improving building accessibility. In this example, training funding was supported by WorkingNB and accessiblity changes were supported by the youth innovation component of the Enabling Accessiblity Fund.

This custom training ensured that the prospective changes were prioritized and had the most impact for the co-working spaces, the building tenants and the clients and customers who visited the building.

For example, here are some of the first key changes:

Sound

While the Hub building included natural wood as part of its decor, concrete flooring contributed to significant noise throughout the building. A key room, the boardroom, a shared space used by multiple tenants, was chosen for transformation. Importantly, meetings were consistently a challenge because of the echo in the room. Acoustic ceiling tile and carpet tile were both added and signficantly improved the sound levels in the room. Moreover, people reported that the room felt warmer, more welcoming and inviting; the changes created a more comfortable space overall for meetings.

Lighting

Natural lighting was actually a problem for tenants on the front of the building. For instance, sunlight coming through the large front windows produced a lot of glare that contributed to headaches and migraines for people in the building. The Hub also wanted to increase knowledge and awareness of their purpose and mission. As a result, they chose to add custom perforated signage over the windows that allowed light without glare.

Additional changes for the co-working space and building

Small changes have a big impact, is one of the mantra’s of Sensory Friendly Solutions’ founder Christel Seeberger. The audit, building tenant poll and training identified many, simples changes that the Hub could undertake over time:

  • Move accessible parking spot a few feet so that hydro pole support doesn’t block sidewalk.
  • Move garbage and recycling away from entrance to reduce smells.
  • Add more acoustic tiles to different rooms to absorb sound.
  • Add more wood elements, like shelves, to spaces to absorb sound.
  • Apply for additional funding to improve signage, orientation and wayfinding the building, move signage to accessible height and include Braille on signs.
  • Cover fluorescent lights with filters.
  • Add low pil, but highly visible carpet tiles to concrete flooring throughout to reduce sound while mainaining accessiblity.

Outcomes

It’s really important that we make the space accessible. So that’s what we’re trying to achieve through this transformation, making sure that our lounges and our lunch areas and stuff like that are also as comfortable as the office spaces so people can have a break and also feel comfortable at their office and as well as in the common spaces.”

Abi Reinhart  -Youth Accessiblity Leader, Social Enterprise Hub

The Social Enterprise Hub’s commitment to an accessible environment did more than just remove barriers. Importantly, it enhanced productivity and enjoyment of the building for commercial tenants and all building visitors. This case study demonstrates the role of custom training, an audit and involving users in making positive changes.

Interested in discovering more?

Read about blogs that share sensory-friendly ideas for offices and workplaces.

Finally, elements of this case study were featured in our short documentary: Too Busy. Too Noisy. Too Bright. Take a peek! It is less than 5 minutes long.

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