An entrepreneurship collective that I’m involved with recently started up a coworking space in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. The joint has some cool features. For example, we have a whole lot of potted plants, including some pretty large ones, which makes me feel a tiny bit like I’m in a rainforest. Visually, it’s undeniably a stylish and inspiring work environment.
There’s something about it that’s been grating on me, though. It’s to do with the spatial arrangement of the office – specifically, it feels like it’s hard to get any privacy. I feel a bit mean-spirited saying this, as part of the whole point of the project is to encourage collaboration, but when no-one is getting any work done, it’s hard to imagine any productive collaborations happening here.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want traditional office cubicles. What we need is an approach to privacy that reflects the underlying values of the collective. I’ve been thinking that a couple of areas partly enclosed by glass walls could do the trick. I’m thinking just enough to keep out the incessant giggling of Jane and Hans, the online distributors of bio dynamic soap. I’ve seriously heard enough about their combined pool of dating debacles to last me a lifetime.
Decorative glass panels for the office? Melbourne, surely, can hook me up with a way of getting this sorted. It’s true that I’m very much thinking about the way that this is going to look. I’m thinking that these glass walls be made semi-opaque by the etching in of our group’s logo… maybe it can be printed onto some kind of window film? I think that we could all use a reminder that it’s a communal situation (in other words, to keep it down on the phone to your ex-boyfriend… I’m looking at you, Hans).
While I’m dreaming of office partitions and frosted glass panels, Melbourne seems to be reaching a bit of a saturation of alt coworking collectives – all the more reason to reimagine the situation and address this problem that I’ve identified.