A New Kind of Grind

Within the next few years, close to half of America's workforce will have transitioned to independent labor, begging the question: Where will they all work?

lesson 2
Let your end-user be their own layout specialist.

Co-working spaces should be intrinsically collaborative communities. Grind's design promotes this with the complete disappearance of barriers of any kind. "We've gotten rid of all walls, all barriers, all partitions, all cubicles. We don't have any of that at Grind. That's the first and foremost thing you'll notice. Collaboration requires proximity," Dyett says. "We don't have any private offices and we don't have any dedicated seating. It's really important because it forces people to sit in a different place every day and sit next to someone new everyday. That encourages them to find out what everyone in the space is up to, what their expertise is, and then figure out how they can share expertise with them and collaborate."

Since there are no walls or barriers, Grind does with furniture what most people do with walls. "The thing about furniture is, you can move it," Dyett notes. "Believe it or not, sometimes our members move it for us. And we encourage them to do that. Make it work for you, especially if you're collaborating with one of our other members. We want you guys to do that."

"Everything works, and there's nothing that distracts," says Dan Dengrove, founder of Brewla and a Grind Broadway user since November 2013. Dengrove spends most of his time in the main area of open seating, which he says is great for his productivity for two reasons: one he calls the "gym membership theory" and the other being all the positive social influences in the people he's surrounded by on a daily basis.

"You can learn a lot from other experienced people if you are just given access to them," says Dyett, reinforcing this point. Dengrove will often invite colleagues back for meetings and "it's a great first impression. Even if we graduated from here, if we needed a central meeting spot we would still utilize it," he adds.

But for the members of IrishCentral.com, there is no turning back to a traditional office. They've taken advantage of every inch of Grind's Broadway location, from its team rooms and event space capabilities to the network of freelancers that it offers. This allows them to find exactly the type of professional they might need on short notice, from writers to graphic designers, helping them reach their goals of making their content as shareable as possible and doubling their audience each year.

Over at Fueled Collective, Chawla has created an environment that takes casual flexibility to the nth degree.

"As far as the space, one of the core concepts behind it is this whole idea that we don't really live in our living rooms anymore. We live in our offices. The goal of the office is to be more like your living room," he explains.

In the tech world Chawla and his tenants inhabit, there is no such thing as a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Design and development comes in constantly improving versions. The end-user does not expect a finished polish on every surface, or for state-of-the-art furnishings and lighting to be the norm. Incremental upgrades, based on lean build-ups and evolving needs, are fair game. This can be a challenge for the designer used to traditional project planning cycles, which leads to our last lesson.

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