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Visual Cues for Better Coworking

23 Oct 2011
by Alex Hillman

We’ve done a lot of experimenting with desk layouts at Indy Hall.

Among the lessons we’ve learned are that clusters of 3 are optimal for members getting to know each other – it’s much harder to be anonymous in groups of 3 than in groups of 4, 5, 6, or more. It’s like being a part of a smaller “team”.

Another lesson is how important it is to mix in full time members with flex members. In every cluster of 3 desks, we make it a point to have at least one flex desk (or at least one full time desk). The goal is two-fold: for the full time member, we want to battle complacency. Not sitting next to the exact same people very day means new people to say hi to, strike up conversation, and go from there. The benefit for a flex member is that it’s very, very difficult to sit alone at Indy Hall, and sitting next to a full time member when you’re a new member is helpful for getting a lay of the land.

That said – it’s been a bit challenging to identify a full time desk from a flex desk. The original cue was “if the desk has a monitor on it, it’s probably a full time member”. Over time, that became less obvious. Many of our flex members store monitors while they’re not here, meaning that during the day, it’s no longer obvious who’s a full time member and who’s not. That undermines part of our system, and makes it confusing for people flexing in for the day – they don’t know where they can/can’t set up for the day to work.

Starting Monday, Indy Hall is trying out a new system.

David’s not “facepalming” back there, he’s deep in thought. I promise.

Now, when you come into Indy Hall to “flex” for the day, all you have to do is find one of the light colored desks. We’ve done this to one section of desks so far, and have the rest of the office to convert later this week.

We’re hoping that this simple visual cue will help people get comfortable faster, and streamline getting settled into a pod and starting to work! We’ll be keeping a close eye out for changes and improvements!

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Alex Hillman I am always thinking about the intersection of people, relationships, trust and business. I founded Indy Hall in 2006, making us one of oldest fully independent coworking communities in the world. This site is packed with the lessons and examples I’ve learned along the way. You can find me on Twitter, too! 🐦 Say hi.