by Micaela Roberts, Co-Founder and Design Principal at Urban Purpose Design
The focus of the March 2nd CREW program luncheon is certainly a trending topic these days – The Impact of Co-Working. The program headline begs the question: the end of the 5,000-square foot lease?
This question and many more were discussed and answered by a panel of knowledgeable speakers:
- Christian Devlin, Tenant Rep Broker for CBRE
- Chris Estrada, Chief Co-Working Officer of The Operation Spot
- Erin Greer, Director Work Studio of Gensler
- Chad Turner, General Manager of ROAM
The big question, why, was primarily summed up with one answer: interaction. With technology as the increasing focus in the business world, people are craving real life connections, interactions, and a community with which to belong. Co-working spaces act as a destination, and the interaction between people and businesses creates an ecosystem; unique to every location.
With barely more than 4,000 co-working spaces in the US, there is a great deal of opportunity and expectation for this market to continue to grow. One new trend within the market is niche co-working spaces: spaces geared towards only tech or only lawyers, for example. The panel of speakers all agreed that we will see more of these niche types of spaces in the near future.
When asked who, the panel agreed that those interested in co-working are mostly start-up companies and entrepreneurs. When just starting out, the idea of having a space to get away from the personal distractions of working from home is appealing. Having a dog barking in the background of a conference call is not ideal for any new business owner.
People are also looking for a convenient location, which is close to home with flexibility. Twenty-four-hour building access is key to attracting those early morning risers, as well as those who burn the midnight oil. Flexibility also means allowing businesses to grow within the space. Being able to easily ramp up and add people to your business is an important feature for a start-up company.
The speakers discussed the timeframe of a co-working company. Estrada suggested that a new business that is located in a co-working space should outgrow that type of office environment after one or two years. Atlanta Tech Village kicks companies out once they reach 15 or more employees.
Greer had an interesting perspective, based on her experience designing co-working spaces. The panel discussed how the design of a co-working space is one of the most important elements for the success of the space, creating a culture and atmosphere. Designers focus on creating a fun environment, compared to traditional office designs of the past. Many businesses searching for a co-working space feel that the design is more important than the amenities (mailboxes, receptionists, etc.). Designers must also create the right balance between open and closed spaces, versus interactive areas and areas of privacy. Often co-workers require both audible and visual privacy and, when necessary, providing this ability is essential.
Atlanta and its surrounding metro area are expecting significant population growth over the next few decades. Density has become a common trend. An example of this is that office spaces are becoming more dense, due to companies downsizing to reduce overhead and new businesses, which are popping up every day. Based on the opinion of the panel of experts, the growth of co-working in the city of Atlanta has just begun.
Micaela Roberts, Co-founder and Design Principal at Urban Purpose Design, has a passion for design, an eye for clever detail, and a focus on integrity and professionalism. Micaela began her design career at Valdosta State University, graduating with a Bachelors of Fine Arts majoring in Interior Design. It is here that she excelled in both design and as a leader, receiving the Design Student of the Year award and becoming student chapter president of ASID.
Upon graduating college, Micaela worked at a commercial architecture firm in Atlanta where she quickly became the firm’s lead designer. Designing over 1/2 million square feet of space, project types included restaurants, corporate office buildings, corporate and medical interior build-outs, government, worship, senior living, and retail. Micaela received her NCIDQ certificate in 2009.
In 2012 Micaela launched her own company, focusing mainly on restaurants, and office spaces, and high end residential. Seeking more collaboration and growth, Micaela merged with Urban Purpose in 2014. As an active member of IIDA, CREW Atlanta, and KBOA, she is a strong believer in community and industry involvement. Everyday Micaela brings to UP her belief that design is a powerful problem-solving tool that combines purpose and function with aesthetics and creativity.
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