The rise in remote and hybrid work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has created a demand for spaces in multifamily buildings where residents can work from home. Developers are seeking to meet this demand by providing office and coworking areas as an additional amenity in residential buildings. In these coworking spaces, what accessible design requirements apply?
Accessible Coworking Spaces
Coworking spaces are a valuable amenity for building residents who prefer to work from home, but want separate environments for their professional and personal lives. Designing communal areas that are accessible to all individuals ensures that these spaces can be used to their fullest potential.
As an amenity provided to residents, coworking spaces in multifamily buildings must be designed to provide equitable access for people with disabilities, many of whom have seen a pronounced benefit because of the ability to work remotely.
Coworking spaces vary in design but share many of the same features, including private offices—sometimes called pods or phone booths—and open or communal seating.
Here are some key requirements that designers need to know when creating coworking spaces as a resident amenity:
Private Offices, Pods, or Phone Booths
Where private offices, pods, or phone booths are provided, at least one of each type must be accessible:
- Maneuvering clearance must be provided on both sides of the door. The clearance cannot be obstructed by desks or other built-in furnishings within the room.
- A 60 inch turning circle or T-shaped turn must be provided within the room. The knee and toe clearance underneath desks or tables can be utilized as a part of the turning space.
- All electrical outlets provided in the room must be mounted within accessible reach range, including outlets mounted over a built-in desk. Outlets below the desk are permitted, but additional outlet(s) to serve the same purpose must be provided within accessible range.
- Note that outlets mounted over desks are subject to requirements for reach over an obstruction. Where a front approach with knee and toe clearance is provided, the reach to the outlet can be no more than 25 inches.
- Most rooms include a desk or a table within the room to serve as a work surface. All work surfaces must be able to accommodate a clear floor space positioned for a front approach with knee and toe clearance below. The top of the work surface must be no more than 34 inches AFF.
At least 5% of seating spaces provided must be accessible. Accessible seating spaces must be dispersed among all types of tables provided (e.g., communal table, banquette seating, counter seating) with no less than one of each type provided.
- Accessible tables must be no more than 34 inches in height with knee and toe clearance below. High-top tables are common and permitted as long as an accessible table of the same type is provided.
- Designers often favor tables with pedestal bases, which obstruct knee and toe clearance and cannot be used to meet the required number of accessible seating spaces. Tables with corner posts/legs at least 30 inches apart are the best option for achieving compliance.
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Written by Noelle Piontek, Accessibility Consultant at SWA