Sensory-Friendly Co-working Space in Shared Offices

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Co-working space design is a topic of interest in shared workspaces.  Large companies create co-working spaces for their employees to work together.  Individual offices are reduced or may not even exist.  Workers may share desks and worksurfaces.  Small companies and solo-entrepreneurs use co-working spaces too.  In those instances, space is rented both short and long term.

The use and design of co-working spaces have benefits.  But there can be challenges too.  Make your co-working space sensory-friendly to address the needs of workers.

To be sensory-friendly, you must attend to the eight senses.  Yes, you have eight senses!

Man and woman co-workers sitting at desk in sensory friendly office.


One of the most helpful things to do in co-working space design is to review lighting.  Use a lighting checklist.

In a shared workspace, a pivotal question to ask is, do lights and natural lightEyeball icon. contribute to the health of the building?   The answer should be yes.  This co-working space design idea is not just a” bright” idea. Access to daylight is critical.  In short, lighting can contribute to health by offering adjustable brightness from multiple lighting sources.  For example, ensure there are both overhead lights and desk lights.   If you have standard fluorescent lights, cover then with special light filters or diffusers.


One of the critical disadvantages of co-working is noise.  Especially in sharedEar icon. office space, background noise can be a problem.  Offset this and ensure quiet areas and quiet rooms are made available.  Add noise dampening materials like carpet tile and acoustic wall or ceiling tiles.


One of the considerations co-working space design is taste. Necessarily, make sure there is access to food and beverage on site.  In particular, access to waterMouth with tongue open icon. is critical.  Workers need to eat and drink regularly.  A co-working space requirement is an office kitchen.  Furthermore, choose an office location that has lunchtime eateries nearby.


One way to offer a creative co-working space design is to pay attention to touch and the tactile experience.  So, how closely do people work together?  SomeHand pointing icon. people like to work together.  Some do not and are more productive in private spaces.   Modular office tables can be a solution to allow different configurations. Provide both social spaces, with comfortable seating where people can work together.  Alternatively, provide options for single-person workspaces.


The key to enhancing the benefits of co-working spaces through design is payingNose icon. attention to the sense of smell.  Ever be exposed to a bad smell at work?  It cannot be ignored and no work gets done.  The first thing to do is to design a system so that waste and recycling is managed.  They are the most significant contributors to smell.


One of the common downsides of co-working spaces is their location.  If you are choosing to rent, buy, or build, check out the location’s walkability score.  ChoseStick person running icon. one with a high walk score that is accessible by walk, bike, and transit, in addition to parking.

On the other hand, what are the benefits of co-working? Co-working spaces often have a gym or active living space inside.  A healthy worker is a happy worker, so including space to move is vital.

Finally, how to design a modern co-working space?  Simple, make it accessible.  Make the accessibility features so integral to the design they do not stand out.  Accessibility isn’t just for people who use wheelchairs.  Accessibility features help people who have a difference in any of their senses.  They also help people who use other mobility devices like a cane or walker.  And they help people who do not use any sort of assistive device at all.

BalanceStick figure balance on one leg icon.

Here is another co-working space design tip, how is the worker’s sense of balance used at work?  If there are elevators, ensure stairs are open for use and not just in case of emergency.


The anatomy of good co-working space design includes interoception.  That isStick figure and organs icon. your eighth sense.  It tells you when you are hungry, thirsty, or have to go to the bathroom.  It is your internal organ sense.  So, ensure bathroom facilities easily and readily accessible to all.  That means gender-neutral, wheelchair accessible bathrooms on every floor.  And ensure bathrooms are in sufficient quantity.

Remember, your co-working space checklist is eight points.  Make your shared workspace sensory-friendly and you will have happy, healthy, and productive workers.

  1. See
  2. Hear
  3. Taste
  4. Touch
  5. Smell
  6. Movement
  7. Balance
  8. Interoception

Finally, companies that support autism also adopt a sensory-friendly workspace. Autism-friendly companies often have a neurodiverse workforce.  Their workers are more likely to have sensory sensitivity or experience sensory overload.  Furthermore, an autism-friendly work desk is sensory-friendly too.

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