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Innovation Junction: a Guide to Makerspaces in Coworking Environments

Helga Moreno
Helga Moreno
Innovation Junction: a Guide to Makerspaces in Coworking Environments

Are you a coworking space boss looking to take your space to the next level of awesome? Makerspaces are like turbochargers for creativity, and we're here to show you how to add one to your coworking environment. Imagine your members turning ideas into reality with a collaborative workshop buzzing with energy. That's the magic of a makerspace, and it's easier than you think!

What is a Makerspace?

Imagine a dedicated space within your coworking environment buzzing with creativity. A makerspace is like a toolkit on steroids, giving your members the tools and technology to turn their ideas into tangible products. Think 3D printers, laser cutters, and all sorts of exciting materials.

For your coworking space, a makerspace means:

  • A serious value upgrade: You're offering more than just desks – now your members can build the future.
  • Attracting a wider range of talent: Makerspaces draw in everyone from designers and engineers to artists and entrepreneurs.
  • Fostering a collaborative community: Projects are a natural springboard for connection and problem-solving, making your space even more vibrant.

Makerspaces vs. Hackerspaces: What's the Difference?

You might hear the words "makerspace" and "hackerspace" tossed around a lot. While they sound similar, there's a subtle difference:

  • Makerspaces: These are all about building physical things. Think 3D printers, woodworking tools, maybe even sewing machines! Makerspaces are perfect for members who want to make products and prototypes or just get creative with their hands.
  • Hackerspaces: These are more focused on tech exploration—coding, electronics, and those kinds of skills. It's about creatively tinkering with technology, making it do new and cool stuff.

For your coworking space, a makerspace makes the most sense! It'll attract a wider range of members and let them create awesome, tangible results. In this guide, we'll show you how to set up an amazing makerspace, tackle any challenges, and turn your coworking space into a hub of hands-on innovation!

Building Your Makerspace: The Essential Toolkit

Think of your makerspace as a mix of a traditional workshop, a tech lab, and a whole lot of creative energy. Let's break down the key pieces you'll need:

Makerspace components: guide to makerspaces in coworking environments

1. The Toolbelt

  • Basic Hand Tools: The essentials! Screwdrivers, hammers, pliers, measuring tapes—the building blocks of any project.
  • Power Tools: Level up with drills, saws, maybe even a 3D printer for those ambitious projects.
  • CAD Stations: Design is key! A few computers with design software let members turn their ideas into blueprints.

2. The Supply Closet

  • Raw Materials: Think wood, metal, plastics, fabrics—all the stuff projects are made of!
  • Consumables: Glue, screws, paint—those little things that bring a project together.
  • Learning Resources: Throw in some handy how-to books and online guides for those moments when someone needs inspiration.

3. The Workspace

  • Workbenches: Big, sturdy tables where the magic happens. Make sure they're versatile for different projects.
  • Organized Storage: A place for everything and everything in its place! This will make life a lot easier for your members.
  • Show-off Space: A dedicated area to display awesome projects will inspire everyone.

4. The Tech Corner

  • Computers + Software: For design, but also coding and other techy projects.
  • Electronics Goodies: Sensors, microcontrollers, robot parts... get your members tinkering!

5. Safety First!

  • Safety Gear: Goggles, gloves, the works. Make safety a priority.
  • Good Ventilation: Especially if members will be working with paints or glues.
  • First Aid Kit: Always have one handy for those little mishaps.

6. Comfort & Community

  • Flexible Seating: Chairs, tables, maybe even comfy bean bags for brainstorming sessions!
  • Collaboration Zone: A dedicated space to discuss, plan, and share ideas.
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7. Learning & Connection

  • Community Board: Post workshop schedules, project challenges, and celebrate member wins!
  • Networking Spot: A casual area for members to connect and maybe team up on projects.

8. Workshops & Training

  • Workshop Space: A flexible area for classes and hands-on learning.
  • Learning Resources: Online guides, tutorials, and maybe even a shelf of inspiring books.

9. Accessibility Matters

  • Everyone is Welcome: Make sure your makerspace is accessible to people of all abilities.
  • Clear Signage: Labels, instructions, and safety info should be easy to understand.

10. Keep it Flexible!

  • Modular Furniture: Think tables on wheels, storage you can rearrange – your makerspace will evolve with your members' projects.

Your Future Makerspace Members: A Snapshot

Makerspaces are magnets for awesome people who are driven to create! Understanding who these folks are will help you build a makerspace your community will love. Here's a peek at who you could attract:

Who are makerspace users

1. The Idea People: Innovators & Entrepreneurs

These folks have got the next big thing buzzing in their heads. A makerspace is their prototyping playground, where they can build, test, and perfect their products. They're all about collaboration, so a makerspace is like a creative hive where they can network, find the right skills, and maybe even team up!

2. The Tinkerers: Techies & DIYers

Got a coding whiz or someone who loves taking things apart? Makerspaces are their happy place! They'll be drawn to the specialized tools they might not have at home and the chance to geek out with fellow tinkerers.

3. The Startup Squad: Small Businesses & Early-Stage Genius

Makerspaces are a blessing for businesses on a budget. They get access to the tools to make early-stage products without breaking the bank. Plus, the potential for finding collaborators and mentors inside the makerspace is huge for a young company.

4. The Creatives: Artists, Designers & Crafters

Think of your makerspace as a gallery where things get built instead of just displayed. Artists love new tools and materials to experiment with. The chance to bounce ideas off other creatives is a big draw for them—inspiration is contagious!

5. The "I want to learn THAT!" Crew: Lifelong Learners & Hobbyists

Some people just love to learn new stuff! From woodworking to 3D printing, your makerspace will be like a skills buffet. The best part? They'll share their knowledge, creating a space where everyone gets to be a teacher and a student.

Designing Your Dream Makerspace

A great makerspace isn't just about tools; it's about an awesome experience for your members. Here's a breakdown of how to make that happen:

How to design a makerspace

1. Know Your Why & Who

  • What's Your Goal? Is the makerspace for serious prototyping, skill-building, community projects, or a mix? This will shape everything.
  • Who's It For? Understanding your members (and who you want to attract) is key. What skills do they have? What do they dream of building?

2. Ask the Experts: Your Future Members!

  • Survey Says... Ask your coworking community what they'd be excited to make, the tools they'd love to have, and what kind of space inspires them.

3. The Location Hunt

  • Easy Access: People need to be able to get to the makerspace. Is parking available? Public transport?
  • Room to Grow?: Will you be able to expand if the makerspace is a hit? Think ahead!

4. Layout = Your Space's Personality

  • Flow is Everything: How will people move around as they work? Leave space for that, and make tool storage close to work areas.
  • Work Zones: Designate spaces for specific stuff: messy projects (welding, painting), quieter work (electronics, CAD), and big collaboration zones.

5. Safety & Comfort: The Non-Negotiables

  • Breathe Easy: Good ventilation is a must, especially with things like soldering or adhesives.
  • The Eyes Have It: Great lighting reduces mistakes and makes it easier to focus.
  • Safety Rules: Clear signage and easily accessible fire extinguishers, first aid kits, etc.

6. Tools of the Trade

  • Start with the Basics: Think quality hand tools, good workbenches. Your member survey will tell you those must-have specialty tools.
  • Evolve Together: Set a budget to regularly upgrade and add new equipment as your members' skills grow.

7. Workspaces that Work Hard

  • Specialized Stations: Dedicated areas for specific tools (3D printer, drill press) keeps things efficient.
  • Project Parking: Where will half-finished projects live? Think shelves, cubbies, or a secure storage room.

8. Collaboration Central

  • Beyond the Workbench: Have comfy spots for brainstorming, whiteboards for sketching ideas, and even a coffee corner to fuel those conversations.

9. Tech Matters

  • Computer Power: Enough for design software + some casual browsing space.
  • Internet FTW: Strong Wi-Fi is a MUST in a makerspace.
  • Sharing is Caring: A projector screen makes workshops and presentations easy.

10. Storage Wars: Avoid the Chaos

  • Label Maker is Your Friend: Clear labels on shelves, drawers, and bins are a lifesaver.
  • Project Lockers?: Consider assigning secure lockers to members for longer-term projects.

11. Vibe Check

  • Make it POP! Bright colors, cool artwork, maybe even a space to proudly display finished projects.
  • Your Brand on This: Incorporate your coworking space's colors and logo throughout the makerspace to make it feel cohesive.

12. Everyone's Welcome

  • Accessibility Matters: Consider ramps, adjustable-height workbenches, and easy-to-read signage.
  • A Place for All: A diverse makerspace is a strong one. Promote inclusivity from day one.

13. Built to Last

  • Room for More: How could you expand if you need to? Plan ahead so you're ready for success.

14. Learning Never Stops

  • Workshop Zone: A flexible area where you can host classes or let members teach each other.
  • Knowledge is Power: A shelf with project books, online tutorials, and maybe even local expert contacts.

15. Feedback Loop = Leveling Up

  • Ask & Improve: Regularly ask members how the space is working, what they love, and what they'd change. This is how you make it even better!

Building an Awesome Makerspace Community that Benefits Everyone

A makerspace is more than just tools. It's about the connections your members make and the energy they create together. Here's how to make that happen:

How to build makerspace community

1. Start With Your Mission

  • What's Your Big Goal? Skill building? New businesses being born? A place where the whole community comes to create? This guides everything you do.

2. Team Up!

  • Reach Out: Schools, local businesses, tech groups, even the city government—they might be excited to partner on workshops, funding, or spreading the word about your makerspace.

3. Get Everyone Involved (From Day One!)

  • Ask Around: Talk to your members, local experts, and people you want to attract. What gets them excited? This helps plan the perfect makerspace for your people.

4. It Takes All Kinds

  • Open Doors: Make a space where a student tinkering on a hobby project feels just as welcome as an experienced pro. This diversity = awesome ideas!

5. Membership That Makes Sense

  • Flexible is Key: Monthly, daily, student discounts, family options—there's no one-size-fits-all. Make sure the membership fits the way your members will use the space.

6. Let's Get Together!

  • Mix it Up: Host workshops (tech basics to expert-level stuff), contests, meetups focused on specific skills... get people buzzing!

7. Share the Knowledge

8. The Online Sidekick

  • Member Hub: An online group or platform for project help, asking questions, finding collaborators, or just hyping each other up.

9. Learn & Grow

  • Resource Library: Links to online tutorials, a shelf with how-to books, maybe even space to host live classes.

10. Hangout + Hustle = Collaboration Magic

  • Chill Zone: Comfy spots where ideas spark over coffee. You'll see amazing teams start to form!

11. Beyond the Tech

  • Mixers & Meetups: Get people from different fields talking—a designer + an engineer = startup idea central!

12. Helping Projects Take Off

  • Access to Cash: Can you help members find grants or connect with investors interested in funding cool stuff?
  • The Biz Basics: Even simple workshops on turning an idea into a business can be life-changing for someone.

13. Check Your Progress

  • Feedback Time: Regularly ask about what's working, what could be better—then actually make the changes! Your space will grow with your members.

14. The Hype Machine

  • Celebrate Those Wins: Highlight a cool project on your website, newsletter, community feed, etc. Makes everyone feel like a rockstar.
  • Biz Launchpad: Did a member use the makerspace to launch a new product? Share the news—it shows what's possible.

15. The More, the Merrier!

  • Spread the Word: The awesome vibe of your makerspace will attract new members—make sure people know it's there!

Keeping Your Makerspace Running Smoothly

The tools and the space are the heart of your makerspace, so making it all easy to use is key to happy members! Let's break down how to boss your makerspace logistics:

How to manage resources at a makerspace

1. Easy Booking = Happy Members

  • App to the Rescue: Consider a booking system where members can reserve tools, workspaces, or even rooms for workshops.
  • Fair = Fun: Clear limits on how long someone can keep a popular tool means everyone gets a turn.

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2. Set Clear Rules

  • Policies 101: Simple rules on tool use, borrowing, cleanup responsibilities, etc. Post them prominently and include them in your member onboarding.
  • Sharing is Caring: Are there consumables members pay for themselves (glue, 3D printer filament)? Make this crystal clear upfront.

3. Know Your Stuff

  • Tool Tracker: Software or even a simple spreadsheet to track what you have, where it is, and when it needs maintenance.
  • Less Downtime: When a drill press needs servicing, members can see that in your system to plan ahead.

4. Maintenance = Must-Do

  • The Fix-It List: Regular tool checkups mean fewer breakdowns. Schedule these out and let members know in advance.
  • DIY FTW: When possible, make basic cleaning and maintenance part of using the tool. Less work for you!

5. Safety First, Then Skills

  • Training Time: Make sure no one uses a fancy (or dangerous!) tool without a quick lesson first. Protects them and your equipment.
  • Skill Badges?: Could members 'level up' to use specialized equipment? This can be motivating!

6. Manuals Save the Day

  • Knowledge is Power: Keep a binder or online folder for each tool—manuals, how-tos, even links to cool project ideas using that tool.
  • Ask an Expert: Have a list of members who are experts on certain tools—newbies can reach out for a quick assist.

7. Events Made Easy

  • Room to Transform: Can your space be rearranged for meetups? Think about storage for extra chairs, etc.
  • Tech Check: If an event needs projectors, mics, etc., make those available and easy to book ahead of time.

8. Feedback Loop = Level Up

  • Don't Guess, ASK: Surveys let members tell you what tools they wish they had, what drives them nuts, and what they love.

9. Grow with Your Community

  • Trendspotting: Pay attention to what your members are making, what tools they ask for, that tells you where to invest next
  • Budget Smarts: Set aside some money each month to upgrade or buy new stuff. This keeps things exciting!

10. When Things Go Wrong (Because They Will)

  • Emergency Plan: Everyone should know exits and where the first aid kit is. Post this info clearly.
  • Chill Zone: A space away from loud stuff is key in case something happens. Have a comfy chair and water on hand.

Tackling the Tricky Stuff: Common Makerspace Challenges

Even the coolest makerspace will run into the occasional bump in the road. Here's a breakdown of the usual suspects and how to handle them:

What are common makerspace challenges

1. The Money Question

  • Challenge: Equipment is expensive! Ongoing costs (rent, electricity, etc.) add up fast.
  • Fixes:
  1. Mix It Up: Apply for grants, partner with a local school or tech company (they might even donate equipment), and charge membership fees.
  2. Memberships that Make Sense: Monthly, day passes, student rates, etc.—give people options.

2. Space Invaders

  • Challenge: It's easy to run out of room as your makerspace gets popular.
  • Fixes
  1. Maximize What You've Got: Prioritize the most popular tools, use smart storage, and rearrange things often to see what works best.
  2. Can You Expand?: Before you sign that lease, think about how much room you could realistically need in the next year or two.

3. Tools Need TLC

  • Challenge: Broken-down tools make for unhappy members.
  • Fixes:
  1. Maintenance Must-Haves: Schedule regular checkups to prevent problems. Get members involved in basic upkeep!
  2. Teach the Right Way: A little training prevents A LOT of damage from misuse.
  3. Repair Squad: Have deals with local repair shops, or maybe a handy member willing to help for a discount in exchange for makerspace access.
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4. Getting the Word Out (and Getting People to Stay)

  • Challenge: People don't know you exist, or they try it once and move on.Fixes:
  • Fixes:
  1. Show it Off! Host open houses, school demos, partner with local businesses to show what your members can do.
  2. Never Stop the Buzz: Regular classes, challenges, project spotlights—keep your space exciting, so people want to come back.

5. Safety First!

  • Challenge: Saws, chemicals, etc. are kind of risky by nature.
  • Fixes:
  1. Rules Rule: Super-clear safety rules posted EVERYWHERE, and make everyone sign a waiver acknowledging them.
  2. Train, Train, Train: No one uses a complicated tool without a walkthrough. This protects your gear too!
  3. Insurance is Key: Accidents happen, sadly. Liability insurance is non-negotiable.

6. Everyone Learns Differently

  • Challenge: Some members are pros, some are total newbies. How do you please everyone?
  • Fixes: 
  1. Skill Levels: Classes for beginners AND advanced users.
  2. Knowledge Share: Have a 'Member Expert Board' where people can volunteer to teach quick workshops in their area of expertise.

7. Open to Everyone

  • Challenge: Is your space REALLY welcoming to all, or are there hidden barriers?
  • Fixes
  1. Flexible Hours: If you're only open 9-5, working people are out of luck. Evenings/weekends are a must.
  2. Budget-Friendly: Membership tiers, scholarships, etc., make the space more accessible.
  3. Spread the Word: Reach out to groups that are underserved by most makerspaces—shows you're serious about inclusivity.

8. The Rules, They Are A-Changin'

  • Challenge: Safety regulations, zoning laws, etc. can get complex, and they might change over time.
  • Fixes:
  1. Get Help!: Talk to a business lawyer early on to avoid costly mistakes.
  2. Network, Network, Network!: Are other makerspaces around? Share info on how you all navigate the rules.

9. Keeping Up with the Tech

  • Challenge: The hot new thing today is obsolete tomorrow!
  • Fixes:
  1. Plan to Upgrade: Set aside some money every month specifically for buying the new stuff as you need it.
  2. Borrow Don't Buy (Sometimes): Can you partner with a school or company to borrow cutting-edge gear for occasional use?

The Future of Makerspaces: Trends to Watch

Staying on top of what's coming next makes your makerspace THE place to be. Here's a peek at how makerspaces are evolving and what that means for your coworking space:

Future makerspace trends

1. Work + Make = Awesome

  • The Big Idea: More coworking spaces will add makerspaces, and vice versa. This attracts entrepreneurs who need to prototype, not just have meetings.
  • What You Can Do: Even a small workshop area will get attention. If you don't have the space, partner with a local makerspace!

2. Tech That'll Blow Your Mind

  • The Big Idea: AR, VR, AI—these are moving from niche to mainstream. Your members will want to experiment with them.
  • What You Can Do:
    • Start Simple: A dedicated space with a high-powered computer for design using VR is a good start.
    • Partner Up: Local universities might let you access their fancy stuff for occasional member workshops.

3. Going Green

  • The Big Idea: Sustainability matters to your members. Show them you agree!
  • What You Can Do:
    • Upcycled Awesome: Encourage using reclaimed materials, have a scrap exchange area, etc.
    • Tools That Save Energy: Motion-sensor lights, efficient hand dryers... the little stuff adds up.

4. Makerspace = Classroom

  • The Big Idea: People want to learn by DOING, not just watching videos.
  • What You Can Do:
    • Teach the Teachers: Host workshops for local educators on incorporating making into their lessons.
    • Member-Led Learning: Give members a dedicated space and a small budget to host their own classes.

5. The "Smart" Makerspace

  • The Big Idea: Sensors that track tool usage, connected equipment—this tech gets cheaper every day.
  • What You Can Do
    • Solve a Problem: Don't get tech just for the sake of it. If it makes booking tools or finding materials easier, that's a win.

6. Health is Wealth

  • The Big Idea: Safety got even more important (for obvious reasons). Showing your space takes it seriously is crucial.
  • What You Can Do:
    • Overcommunicate: Can't say the rules too often. Signs, emails, on your website...
    • Upgrade Time: Maybe better air filters aren't something members see but will give you peace of mind.

7. Community 2.0

  • The Big Idea: Online groups are great, but they can't replace that in-person connection.
  • What You Can Do:
    • Project Share Nights: Set aside time for members to demo stuff, even if it's informal.
    • Skill Swaps: Can your software whiz do a basic 'Intro to Coding' workshop in exchange for help with their website?

8. Flex is the Future

  • The Big Idea: Let people use the space the way THEY work best.
  • What You Can Do:
    • Storage Options: Secure lockers for in-progress work, plus open shelving for quick projects.
    • Memberships that Fit: If someone only comes in one day a week, they shouldn't pay the same as someone who's there every day.

9. Team Up for Success

  • The Big Idea: Businesses are hungry for innovative thinkers. Your makerspace can be where they connect.
  • What You Can Do:
    • Speed Dating with a Twist: Host an event where local startups pitch problems, and your members propose solutions.

10. Rise of the Robots

  • The Big Idea: Robotics is getting accessible to hobbyists! This could be HUGE for your makerspace.
  • What You Can Do:
    • Start Small (But Cool): Programmable robot arms are surprisingly affordable.
    • Get the Geeks Excited: A robotics club within your space could lead to amazing things.

Makerspaces: The Future Starts Here

We've seen how makerspaces are so much more than just workshops. They're where ideas become reality, where people of all backgrounds connect, and where your coworking space becomes a hub of next-level innovation.

The best makerspaces are always changing, always improving. Want to take yours to the next level? Management tools like Spacebring streamline the day-to-day stuff, so you can focus on building an incredible community. Ready to see what that looks like?

Schedule a quick demo with our team, and let's explore how to make your makerspace work even harder for you and your members.

This is just the beginning—let's build something amazing together!

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