What Companies Should Learn from Co-working Spaces

The traditional workforce required people to be physically present in order to work, but the rise of freelancing and gig work has led to an increase in co-working spaces. This emerged during the pandemic, which fueled the gig economy with the number of employees being laid off (reaching 18 million at its highest in 2020) who needed to make ends meet by working several jobs at once.

In the gig economy, technical and soft skills are critical, since workers complete small tasks or jobs instead of traditional work arrangements in this setting. These one-off gigs give employees and freelancers the opportunity to take on interesting projects while still being paid for their time.

As of 2022, there are more than 70.4 million freelancers in the US, generating more than $1 trillion and contributing more than the construction industry does to the American economy. However, as work-from-home arrangements became more popular but still lots of households being poor places to work in, co-working spaces have become more popular than ever before. Read more about why co-working spaces are the standard against which other workplaces should be set.

Co-working Spaces Encourage Productivity

The Harvard Business Review found in a study that people who often use co-working spaces are more satisfied and productive. The study found other benefits as well, like more independence and the freedom to mix their routine up as they please.

Opportunities to Connect, Innovate, and Collaborate

When employees are around others with similar interests, they usually feel more relaxed and can focus better. Additionally, this social setting allows workers to get new ideas from each other. It’s also where employees can connect with people in their field or related industries that could provide some helpful perspective from the outside. Co-working spaces, as crossroads of various people, ideas, practices, and industries, are a hotbed for new ideas, the same way innovation springs in cities. One could even argue that the co-working space facilitates innovation better than stimuli-rich city areas since people are there to work and create.

Inspiring Healthy Competition

People are constantly trying to outdo those around them, whether they realize it or not. It is natural that when seeing productive people, you are inspired to do the same. For example, employees will become more motivated to complete tasks and work harder on complex projects when they share a working space with other hard workers. The sense of competition creates a sense of focus and drive in individuals.

Two remote workers discussing ideas at a conference table in a co-working area

Support Systems

The differences between a traditional office and co-working space are evident when looking at how employees interact with one another. In co-working spaces, colleagues are much more supportive of each other, unlike in traditional offices where politics play a bigger role. This is because in co-working spaces, despite the subtle competition of appearing more productive or successful, one’s success does not necessarily hinder other people or steal ideas or opportunities for career progression away from them. People also find it easier to be friends as they are not workmates (which some people actively distance themselves from).

Designed With Workers in Mind

Since co-working spaces were built to cater to workers — they were not designed according to one company owner’s or upper management’s needs, wants, whims, constraints, or whatnot. As such, co-working spaces can address more pain points among its users. You may argue that they were designed with the co-working spaces’ owner’s needs in mind, but again, as a business owner, they will certainly try to make their clientele happy, unlike with traditional offices where budget constraints are usually at the top of the priority list. The co-working building area is designed to help workers remain productive with features like on-site gyms or a cafe.

Some companies chose to give their workers stipends to assist them in setting up a home office, while others were not as fortunate. Even though the latter did not have this support, co-working spaces usually have more advanced technology and equipment that members can use for free, which encourages workers to work there. Co-working spaces offer access to facilities such as electricity, high-speed internet, boardrooms, and other amenities, such as coffeemakers or even foosball tables. Co-working spaces usually also provide easy access to nearby bakeries, restaurants, cafes, and other establishments they may need. These types of spaces help people who freelance or work remotely to more easily juggle their responsibilities and have a better work-life balance. For workers who rely on the internet for their livelihood (like workers of the tech community), a fast and reliable connection is essential—and this is usually part of the offering.

Allows Compartmentalization

One of the reasons co-working spaces are popular is because they provide a change of scenery from the traditional office or home office. By working from these spaces instead of an assigned office space, employees have the opportunity to change up their routine and their surroundings more frequently. This can help break the connection with work that they might feel if they were working from home or a corporate office for 40 hours every week.

The co-working space is the best of both worlds for employees who want to dress casually and avoid managers constantly monitoring them. These spaces provide the optimal balance of a professional and relaxed environment which leads to employees feeling more comfortable, which in turn fosters creativity.

Final Thoughts

The landscape of work has changed drastically over the past couple of years. The pandemic forced almost every industry to adapt, and in the midst of the crisis, many workers discovered a level of autonomy and balance that many are no longer willing to let go of. While this is something that many companies still do not completely accept, some companies have gotten around to it, and presumably, more and more will change their tune as younger workers take higher management positions.

What many hope is that companies follow suit, for their sake and their employees’— there is much to be learned from the culture of fun, uplifting working spaces where people co-work and co-create.

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