You may have heard the term “co-working spaces” come up in conversation—it’s become quite a trend, which seems to be growing in popularity. Why? These days, the traditional office setting, with cubicles, etc. just doesn’t work anymore as many people in certain sectors work collaboratively in teams.
Being in a community workspace is showing to improve innovation, collaboration and productivity. Co-working spaces are also great for businesses that are expanding, and they act as a draw for top-talented candidates who enjoy working in an inspiring place. What’s not to like?
What is a Co-working Space?
Co-working spaces are essentially flexible, shared workspaces. Think of this as an office space that is communal in the sense that there is community of people working individually and/or together.
How do co-working spaces differ from cubicles? The main difference is that people are choosing to work in a shared environment, rather than in an isolated, more traditional cubicles. Co-working spaces also differ from open-air offices, given that in co-working spaces there are people from various companies, entrepreneurs and freelancers together working in a creative and inspiring environment.
Who Uses Co-working Spaces?
We mentioned some groups earlier—there are several groups who may prefer working in a community workspace:
- Freelancers: co-working offers flexibility for freelancers who are used to bootstrapping. They tend to choose their own hours and create a flexible schedule to enjoy better work-life balance. Plus, working in a in a shared space with others creates a sense of community for freelancers who often work on their own. Isolation dulls the brain, while working together can provide just the inspiration they may need.
- Start-Ups: co-working spaces are also great for start-ups who are looking for cost-effective office and workspace options. With a co-working space, start-ups no longer have to carry a traditional long-term lease—they use and pay for the space only when they need it. These communal workspaces also offer places for those working on a virtual team a place to come together for working sessions and/or meetings with clients.
What about large companies? While co-working spaces have traditionally been used by start-ups and freelancers, large companies have also been testing the use of co-working spaces for their staff. For example, large companies such as IBM, Verizon, Microsoft have been testing co-working spaces with their employees.
What are the Benefits of Co-working?
As we’ve seen, co-working spaces can work for large business, freelancers and start-ups, and everything in between. What makes co-working so popular? Here are some of the benefits of co-working spaces—no matter a company’s size:
1). Community—working together: remote workers and those working from a home office, sometimes experience loneliness. There’s no one share ideas with, no one to have lunch or take a coffee break with, etc. While there are many benefits to working remotely from home, co-working can help energize things a little bit. Working in communal setting, even once-in-a-while, can help freelancers and other remote workers feel a part of something bigger than themselves, have a chance to network and to be more productive.
2). Creativity and productivity: speaking of productivity, working with others in a shared space can make employees, freelancers and other remote workers more productive. There’s just something upbeat about working with others from diverse industries. Working in space with like-minded people can help everyone feel energized, more productive, creative and even more engaged with their work. All good stuff!
3). Networking: did we mention networking? Co-working can increase the time spent making connections—in a natural, organic way. You can easily make connections with the people sitting near you just by starting a normal conversation—it’s that easy. It’s also possible to find new partners to do business with—you just never know.
4). Flexibility and lower costs: rather than rent at an expensive location, everyone saves money by using co-working space. The signing up for co-working membership is much more affordable than space in a traditional office setting. Not only that, but co-working spaces also offer access to office furniture, office machines, services (such as high-speed Internet, support staff, etc.), all of which is usually included in the membership package. In addition, there’s no worry about a long-term lease or rental agreement. When you sign up for co-working, you can choose the package with the most suitable number of hours for you. Co-working spaces also offer large and small business more flexibility and a cost-effective alternative to working out of a traditional office.
5). Services and perks: co-working also comes with a few perks and additional included services. When you join a co-working space, you don’t have to worry about paying for utilities, printing costs (or paying when the printer breaks down), coffee, etc. Some co-working spaces also have support staff available to help out when you need it. All of this is generally included in the membership.
6). Boost business: small businesses, freelancers and solopreneurs all gain credibility when working in a professional setting such as a co-working space. It’s possible to meet with clients, network, work with partners, etc. in an energized, community workspace. This is a natural way to boost your business—no matter what size it may be.
7). Corporate culture: the co-working culture is much different than the traditional corporate culture of the past. The rigid, structured culture and office settings have been found to stifle creativity and innovation in employees. Employees are also more task-driven and chatting may be discouraged. Corporate jobs were often seen as the “real jobs”—but no more, you can have a legitimate job working in a pleasant environment, getting your head down or even collaborating with others. Cooperation and communication flow in shared workspaces.
8). Wonderful atmosphere: in addition to all the previous benefits, co-working spaces typically offer a positive atmosphere in which to work. Not only is there an unlimited source of coffee available, but the atmosphere itself is energized from people who want to be there and work with others. The atmosphere may also derive from the pleasant settings—everything from furniture, wall art, and comfortable seating can help make co-working spaces a wonderful place to work.
These are some of the main benefits for businesses of all sizes – as you can see, co-working spaces really have a lot to offer!