Julie Tucker
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NASA’s 1958 Coworking Space

The US space agency NASA provides employees with opportunities for innovation and collaboration in its flexible work environment, known as the 1958 Coworking Space.

The independent agency of the US government has been responsible for the space programme, aeronautics and space research for more than 60 years. With around 17,300 employees and an annual budget of $22.6 billion, it’s a testament to the value of coworking that NASA introduced it some time ago at its Johnson Space Centre.

NASA’s role

The employees of NASA have many varied and important roles. As well as the astronauts who conduct scientific research in space, the scientists on the ground use the data to learn more about space and the earth. NASA space probes study our solar system and beyond. Their research includes developing and improving air travel and other aspects of flight.

Currently, NASA is starting a new space programme to send humans to explore Mars and the moon. As well as its main body of space research, NASA shares what it learns to improve life for people worldwide. Companies are permitted to use NASA’s discoveries as the basis for creating new products.

NASA also invests in training programmes to help teachers prepare students who aspire to be the scientists, astronauts and other NASA employees of the future. The agency funds training to inspire teachers, students, their families and whole communities to get involved in the excitement and discovery of space exploration. It trains teachers in new and exciting ways of teaching science, engineering, technology and mathematics. NASA also involves pupils in its missions to help generate more interest in learning.

1958 Coworking Space

The 1958 Coworking Space is located across two buildings at the Johnson Space Centre. Aimed at promoting innovation and collaboration, it lets employees work in a flexible environment, where state-of-the-art conference rooms are also available.

Unmistakably NASA, the building includes a Gemini capsule at the front and a number of rocket engines outside at the back. Within the four walls, a new and exciting environment provides the innovative NASA climate that people have come to expect in the 21st century.

So called because of the year NASA formed its engineering group, the Space Task Group, the coworking space can be used by anyone working at NASA. Professionals from every organisation can engage in a productive merging of ideas, just by being there. Of all organisations in the world, NASA is one where creativity and innovation are crucial to future developments.

The 1958 Coworking Space inspires people to think differently, just by being in this type of space, where the colourful working areas are complemented by recreational amenities designed so employees can relax and take a break. This approach is proven to make the mind more susceptible to innovation and productivity.

Employees can stand up and walk around when they choose. Even those who visit the space every day, for weeks, can still find new places to work. Simply by being in an environment such as this, they feel more creative. No day has a set routine and hence every day is engaging.

How did 1958 begin?

The coworking space had humble beginnings, as it started out as a spacious control room, overlooking an aviation bay. Tailored to NASA’S own community, it provides reconfigurable, multi-purpose rooms aimed at supporting innovative conversations. There are also quiet work areas and spaces for team meetings and small retreats, where free-flowing ideas are fostered.

NASA has experimented with various office layouts and furniture designs to find the perfect mix to encourage creativity, with a layout that includes spaces that allow for large, open, work areas, small private spaces and executive-style meeting rooms, all with the appropriate amenities and resources required for the top innovators of NASA.

Over the years, the coworking space has accumulated plenty of modern office furniture. It attracts many open-minded NASA colleagues and has expanded and transformed into numerous office spaces, starting a new movement at the space agency. Managed by an ad hoc community including engineers, scientists, technology experts and everyone else in between, they are all regular users of the 1958 Coworking Space.

It is now a vital tool in NASA’s innovation strategy to attract, engage and retain top employees. They can come and go as they choose and can decide how long their working day should be, when they need to take a break and whether to go to the gym. They can also decide whether they will work better in a collaborative space, with whiteboard tables to encourage community spirit, or in a quiet space, so they can focus on the task in hand.

Inspirational posters and signs line the walls, carrying messages such as, “Whatever the problem, be part of the solution,” and, “Ideas are worthless until you get them out of your head and see what they can do.”

While being an innovator in a large organisation is hard, NASA’s 1958 Coworking Space has risen to the challenge of creating workspace that inspires employees to come up with new ideas.

Headspace Group provides Covid-safe, flexible coworking spaces in prime locations. Contact us for further information.


© Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com

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