Coworking Safe

This is a long post showing the entire process of making my Coworking Safe.

Coworking space alternations:

  • Working vs taking a break
  • Focused and closed vs resting and open
  • Silence vs talking
  • At the desk vs not at the desk
  • Non-social vs social

What are the obstacles for you to take a break from working in a public, coworking space?
Someone might take your seat while you are gone, you cannot leave your valuables unattended and it is a hassle to pack your stuff and then unpack again. Then you also need to carry the lot with you. It is inconvenient.

This will make you not take breaks and so you develop an unhealthy work-rest imbalance.

What could help lower the threshold to take breaks during your workday so that you do not burn out? What could make you feel calm and safe in doing so and what could make that transition easy?

Research and Sketching

Taking notes and drawing.
One idea that I got and that I chose to go forward with. The Coworking Safe.

A storage box for your belongings with a lock. A laptop stand that elevates your computer to a better height for you. Something to reserve your seat so that you can go on breaks without having to worry that the seat you prefer is taken.


Foundational coat of paint on plywood.
Cutting out the pieces I need with my jigsaw.
Gluing the pieces together into a box and a lid.
Testing the angle of the lid in the workshop.
Testing in my home office.

Here I realized I had to redo the box. I had made it with the short side to the front, and this took up a lot of space in the wrong direction. If I just twisted it around 180° it would give you more workspace.

The Second Iteration

Drawing to understand what I need to do.
Sawing the material to size. A miter saw gives much more accurate cuts.
The first box I made to the left, and to the right is the second one. It fits a large MacBook Pro.
Trying out the fit and function.

Attaching Metal Details

Now that I was sure about the box I could go ahead and properly attach the metal details.

Cutting out the wood to integrate the hinges.
Gluing and screwing the hinges in place.
The smallest lock I could find was too big.
Sawing the lock to the size I need.
Now the top part can be attached to the lid and the bottom part of the lock to the box’s side.

Attaching Screws for Extra Support

Marking the drill with tape to know how deep I can and need to drill.
Screws attached.
It is coming together! 😀
Lock in place!
Hinges looking good. 🙂 What a success!
First time attaching hinges, I call this a success!
I found the perfect little padlock.

I am so proud I made all corners meet, fit the lid and attach all metal details.

The Final Prototype

With the spacious safe you do not have to hesitate to leave your seat in the public workspace. Whenever you need to leave for a coffee or a phone call you can store your belongings safely and get back to your desk without having to worry about your things nor your seat being occupied by someone else. The safe lowers the threshold for you to take breaks, which in the long run makes you work better and in a much more healthy and balanced way. 🙂

With the elevated and angled lid, you get the computer at a good height and so you sit ergonomically when working. The steps of the lid also make room for good airflow so that your computer does not get hot.

What is left now is how to communicate to others around you that the seat is taken and that you are simply away on a fika (synonym to coffee and a cinnamon bun in Swedish). I have had ideas about lamps that light up by the weight of your belongings inside the box but I have not found a solution to make that happen.

Then, when I was going over this in my head the other night I realized I must make the box in plexiglass! Then you see through the plastic that the box is not empty but occupied and so is the seat. Simple and clear. 😉

As I have been asking around for feedback on my work so for, I might have to rethink the whole idea again because having a see-through box of your most valuable possessions does not feel safe even though they perfectly are.

What I also have to consider

  • Shape
    Box or no box?
    Angle of lid
  • Material
    Texture, color, weight
  • Lock
    Analog or digital?
  • Felxible or stationary in of itself
    Lock onto table?
  • Occupied/ vacant indicator
  • Recycle, reuse, refurbish
    Cradle to Cradle, meaning circular design
    Design for Disassembly
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