Coworking spaces have taken the modern business environment by storm. But if you picture “coworking” as a bunch of tech-startup millennials huddled around a local Starbucks table, think again. What was once considered a fad for freelancers and startups has quickly matured into one of the fastest-growing global workplace movements. Equipped with the latest technology, decorated for maximum productivity and performance, and designed to incentivize communication and interaction, coworking spaces are attracting individuals and companies of all shapes and sizes. As this craze surrounding a new way of working rages on, we must ask ourselves – what exactly makes these shared spaces so effective? Are more traditional offices able to implement these practices? Let’s dive into the coworking basics and discuss how this industry trend is reshaping the way we view workplace design.
Image Source: Office Snapshots, WeWork Paddington Offices in London
Thanks to the rise of the gig economy (short-term or project-based work), freelancers, entrepreneurs and startups are finding coworking spaces more attractive than ever. According to the 2018 Global Coworking Forecast, the number of coworking spaces worldwide surged from 14 in 2007 to more than 14,000 a decade later. And for good reason. Coworking spaces offer fully equipped offices with more flexible rental arrangements than your average commercial lease. Individuals and organizations are able to rent the number of desks they need on an hourly, daily or monthly basis. And as companies continue to outsource their needs to independent professionals and digital technology eliminates geographical borders, it comes as no surprise that everyone is rushing to secure a seat at a nearby coworking facility. Here are a few reasons as to why so many are turning to shared space practices.
Image Source: Office Snapshots, Bloxhub Coworking Offices in Copenhagen
Coworking spaces typically include all the features of a conventional office, including private desks, collaboration areas, built-in wifi and break rooms, but many go far beyond the basics. Stylish environments that boast a wide variety of amenities, including 24/7 access, high-end furnishings, workout facilities, learning opportunities, social and networking events, attract those who want to take advantage of a flexible space. And while a commercial lease would require you to furnish the space yourself, a coworking arrangement gives you access to all these amenities for a fraction of the cost.
Image Source: Office Snapshots, Solutions.Rent Coworking Offices in Warsaw
A Sense of Community
Connections with others are a big reason why people pay to work in a communal space, as opposed to working from home or the neighborhood coffee shop. WeWork, one of the largest providers of shared office space in the world, emphasizes how it “seeks to create a place you join as an individual, ‘me’, but where you become part of a greater ‘we.’” Coworking organizations consistently create opportunities for their customers to network and build relationships, while giving them the power to choose when and how they interact. Socialization is never forced. Working with like-minded individuals, however, can spark creativity and innovation in ways that aren’t possible at home.
Coworking spaces are normally accessible 24/7, giving people the opportunity to put in long hours or take an afternoon break to hit the gym. A variety of design elements, including private meeting rooms and collaboration tables outfitted with technology, allow for choice in where work can be done on any given day. And should a person decide to work from home, they can walk out the door whenever they like. The autonomy that these coworking spaces provide is highly valued by our multi-generational workforce and helps individuals create a personalized structure that boosts productivity and performance.
Image Source: Office Snapshots, Ministry of Sound Coworking in London
No matter the size of your business, coworking can save you money. Instead of having to rent office space, pay utilities, buy furniture and provide coffee and snacks, individuals and businesses can simply pay a membership fee to the coworking company. And as previously mentioned, coworking sites provide more flexible rental arrangements than your average commercial lease. You choose a commitment that is right for your business, whether that be a few days or several years. Coworking also allows individuals and businesses to consume real estate more efficiently by paying only for the space they need. That means cutting wasted space and, therefore, wasted spend. For example, WeWork uses data to determine the best possible design to balance both employee comfort and collaboration, helping businesses use space more efficiently (see graphic below). Check out WeWork’s complete list of financial reasons that prompt businesses to utilize shared office space.
Image Source: WeWork.com
Coworking for Corporations
Large, established companies are taking advantage of coworking benefits and offering their employees the choice of working in a shared space or in the company’s regular office. Employees have the freedom and flexibility to chose whichever location is more convenient for them. In the case of companies collaborating with WeWork and other coworking businesses with multiple locations, employees can choose the location that is near their daily activities, such as a morning meeting or errands they need to run after work. Fortune 500 companies such as Facebook, IBM and Microsoft are testing the use of coworking space for workers so they can be close to and easily interact with innovative startups, recognizing the importance of employee choice and how workplace collaboration can boost the creativity of their teams. Many of these multi-national organizations have even started opening their own doors to outside freelancers, startups and entrepreneurs in order to facilitate organic collaboration and creativity with outsiders and reap coworking’s many benefits.
Image Source: Office Snapshots, WeWork Waterhouse Square Coworking Offices in London
Why Coworking Doesn’t Work for All
While this industry trend has obvious benefits, just like any other popular interpretation of workplace design, it is important to remember that there is no ‘one size fits all’ model and each organization must find a balanced approach to implementation in order to maximize its benefits. Coworking can be an effective solution for many small and growing companies, but throwing teams into shared spaces is not a silver bullet to achieve innovation, foster networking or support progressive thinking. While corporate coworking can be established in a variety of ways and for a variety of professional goals, empowering employees to choose when, where and how they want to work begins inside your own walls and creating the right kind of work environment will yield powerful benefits.
The Future of Coworking
Do you think your organization would benefit from coworking practices? Working with a design firm or workplace strategist, like Corporate Design Interiors, will ensure that you have thorough knowledge of this industry trend and how it could be molded to fit the unique needs of your people. Follow the link below to contact a member of the Corporate Design Interiors’ team for additional information on shared workspace strategies and guidance in implementing it within your business.
Featured Image Source: Office Snapshots, Techspace Kreuzberg Coworking Offices in Berlin
Corporate Design Interiors (CDI) is an industry-leading commercial furniture dealership whose award-winning product knowledge, thoughtful design coupled with strategic planning deliver functional and inspiring interiors designed to foster employee well-being, productivity and engagement. CDI’s relentless focus on delivering positive workplaces mirroring the culture and vision of companies while delivering a high value investment has earned CDI diverse clients including; established Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits/public sector and energetic startups.
As a “Select” Kimball dealer, CDI’s excellence in sales, partnership, quality improvement, community involvement and overall business best practices earned it the 2017 Kimball Premier Partner Award. CDI was selected among 52 other Kimball Select dealerships throughout the country for this industry-leading honor, earning additional praise for its company culture and enterprise practices.
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