You probably know, by now, that Rev puts an emphasis on business plans that are informed by real-world data. The business model canvas helps Rev’s members to validate their ideas against customer desires. And much like Rev wants its entrepreneurs to make sure their products meet customer needs, so too does the staff at Rev work to make sure the incubator is meeting member needs.
That’s where I come in; I’m Bonnie, a Master’s student at Cornell University. I study Environmental Psychology and Organizational Behavior, and my thesis is all about how coworking spaces can use design to support member social ties. As a researcher, I’m helping Rev understand their members’ experiences in the workplace.
For the past six months, members at Rev (and three other coworking sites in Ithaca) have been participating in my study by taking surveys, having one-on-one interviews with me, and allowing me to observe them while they are at work. By comparing the results from members at the moment they started working at the newly-opened incubator to those we will get in February, I hope to show just some of the ways that coworking spaces can help members form new social connections.
Right now, everyone at Rev is working hard to plan a great layout for the 3rd floor. It’s a good opportunity to use what we’ve learned from the 2nd floor to make the addition targeted toward user needs. Some of the ideas we’re incorporating from user feedback and design research include:
- Flexible, semi-private areas instead of closed-door offices. Many users need privacy from time to time, but that doesn’t mean devoting square footage to a room that is always a private office. In Rev’s case, it means we’re considering folding and sliding partitions that will block sight and sound when users need it, and then disappear when the space needs to open up.
- A view to the outdoors and greenery inside the space. Research has shown, time and again, that humans benefit from being able to see plants and nature. We also enjoy having a way to look out from out “secure spot” to the wider world. The renovated Carey building features beautiful, high windows that let in light and offer a vantage point on Ithaca. Adding a green wall inside the space will bring some of that nature inside when Ithaca’s winter is in full swing.
- A range of furniture styles, from formal and professional to soft and relaxing. Coworking members, especially those working hard on starting a new business, spend a lot of time in their workplace. This means creating a spectrum of space to support their needs throughout the day, whether it is a business meeting with a potential investor in a polished conference room, or a relaxing moment after lunch on a softer couch in a quiet zone.
This has been more than just a rewarding, satisfying project for me during my time as a student at Cornell. Through Rev, Stream Collaborative, Studio West, and CoLab Hive, I have gotten to know a diverse group of entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small business owners. Seeing the way that all four spaces serve their members and keep Ithaca growing as a vibrant, creative community is extremely inspiring – to me, and I hope to others!
If you’re interested in this project, or in future space assessment projects at Rev, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]