Co-working spaces are a modern office phenomenon. They cater for a new breed of digital and creative startups by allowing professionals to grow their business at a space they can proudly invite clients to, rather than working from the kitchen table. Their immense popularity globally reflects the recent growth of the digital economy. When entrepreneurs are choosing their new co-working space, it is crucial to assess its ergonomic rating. The lighting, seating and safety of the space will influence how well people can perform, and may prove as important to success as the daily rental rate.

Generally speaking, the decor found at co-working spaces are on-trend to attract a client base. They look more like hipster hangouts than the traditional offices filled with cubicles that too many of us have experienced at large organisations. However, beyond the impressive facade, are they safe and practical to be working in everyday?

When you do a walk-through of a prospective new office, first take note of the seating. If you witness bench seating or fixed stools instead of office chairs, it is a sign that the Co-working space is not going to provide suitable equipment to help you, or your colleagues maintain your posture and spinal health throughout the day. When it comes to ergonomics, a one suits all approach does not work. Ideally, chairs, desks and monitors will all have adjustable settings so heights and widths can be adjusted for the individual comfort of the person that is using them.

You might also be interested in Why office ergonomics is so much more than a great chair

The layout and physical attributes of the environment will subconsciously affect everyone’s work performance. A building that lets in streams of sunlight while allowing users to control glare and heat with window shades will provide workers with an overall boost to their health. The natural influence of sunlight on the body’s circadian rhythm helps us to stay alert during the day, to fall asleep at night and encourages our metabolism to work like clockwork. If our bodies are working well, entrepreneurs and employees will have the energy to concentrate on the job at hand. If the Coworking space has few windows and instead is lit by fluorescent lights, then it is worthwhile searching for something better.

What Co-working spaces deliver on extraordinarily well are flexible work spaces. This is where the office is separated into zones or rooms that can be used by anyone for multiple purposes. It is one of the great benefits of being in a co-working spaces – the simple freedom to get up, move around and choose the area most suitable for the work you intend to do. On a psychosocial level it is empowering. You are able to control where and how you approach your work. However, be mindful that if you select a lounge-type area, the comfort it provides is only for short periods. The more seating moves away from a traditional desk chair, the less likely it is able to support your spine for a long period, let alone the work-week. If you have any questions, ask the Co-working space managers to recommend how to use the different zones they provide in a way that is ergonomically safe and harmonious.

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International co-working company, aptly named Coworkers.com, recently carried out a survey to determine what their ideal customers were really looking for. According to the survey report, 39% of respondents said they are interested in choosing a Co-working space with ergonomic chairs. An additional 39% said they wanted standing desks/monitors. These encouraging statistics show that the general populous is aware of the benefits of good workplace ergonomics, and have high expectations of their Co-working space providers, and rightly so.

When searching for the right Co-working space, choose an ergonomically safe environment and equipment that will help take your business to the next level.