Coworking is big business. More than 1.7 million people use 14,000+ spaces around the world. Many operators promise members a space to boost their business and grow as individuals. These aren’t just empty promises – 84% of people who use coworking spaces claim to be more engaged and motivated.
Consequently, coworking is regularly associated with enhanced team productivity and innovation due to collaborative working with proven benefits for those involved. Here are the main reasons why coworking spaces provide the perfect environment to thrive:
Diversity Breeds Innovation
The diversity of the coworking community creates a rich breeding ground for innovation. Research reveals 50% of coworkers identify as individual workers, such as freelancers or consultants, 40% are employees working remotely on a permanent or temporary basis, and 10% are employers, including small business owners.
This cross-pollination of workers connects individuals and businesses that may never have met in the traditional corporate environment. Coworking spaces often capitalize on this unique mix by offering a range of networking events, from lunch and learns to formal lectures or informal activities such as drinks nights or fitness classes.
Such extensive networking opportunities can help members learn about businesses and fields outside of their area of expertise and also meet potential clients, suppliers or collaborators.
Many coworking spots also incorporate a diverse range of offices designs and spaces, from breakout areas to nap pods to meeting rooms and meditation yurts where members can bounce their ideas around within aesthetically pleasing surroundings.
For startups, coworking spaces also provide a winning combination of flexible and affordable space where such fledgling businesses can expand as and when they need to, without the stranglehold of a lease agreement. Such businesses are usually working on innovative, often disruptive, products or services and, as such, bring these cutting-edge ideas and entrepreneurial attitude to the coworking environment.
In the U.S., 65% of companies are expected to use coworking as part of their office portfolio by 2020.
The reasons behind this shift are complex. The combination of effective telecommuting technology and a tight labor market has opened the door to the world’s workforce, and coworking spaces provide businesses with the perfect location to capitalize on the changing world of work.
Coworking spaces give corporates the opportunity to recruit workers who don’t live near their headquarters. The structured work setting of a coworking space is also more appealing to remote workers, who often benefit from boosted productivity and creativity and avoid the social isolation of working from home.
Big corporations are also increasingly using coworking spaces to keep pace with innovation and set up remote R&D teams. For example, tech giants including Verizon, Microsoft and IBM are trialling such spaces to be near innovative startups.
Some businesses are even setting up their own coworking spaces. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review highlights the VBN space in Paris, which opened in 2014 and houses a community of 50% freelancers and 50% Orange (née French Telecom) employees.
The report reveals: “Teams temporarily stationed there worked better and faster than colleagues elsewhere, and they reported greater satisfaction and engagement, along with bouts of depression upon returning to the office. Even the HR executives managing the space were surprised by their bonhomie. More villas are now in the works.”
Workspaces are now a tool to attract and retain talent. The current workforce, especially millennials, would accept a lower salary if they could work for a company with a focus on work-life balance and a strong corporate culture. Google has always been ahead of the curve here, offering its employees fully immersive campuses with a ‘work hard, play hard’ ethos.
Coworking spaces have the ability to give today’s workforce the flexibility and community-centric environment they crave. As a result, people thrive in coworking spaces and there are three substantial predictors for this fact, according to a recent report.
First, coworkers are free from internal office politics and direct competition and can pursue projects that they view as meaningful. Second, it’s often the norm to help each other out in a coworking space, which leads to skill sharing and opportunities for professional growth. Finally, the core values of coworking, highlighted in this original manifesto, include community, collaboration, learning and sustainability.
As a result, coworkers have more job control, feel part of a community where socializing isn’t compulsory or forced and are free to innovate.
The report concludes: “Our research suggests that the combination of a well-designed work environment and a well-curated work experience are part of the reason people who cowork demonstrate higher levels of thriving than their office-based counterparts.”
Coworking clearly inspires communication and innovation for a range of businesses and individuals for a variety of reasons. However, research reveals the coworking business model is “rather fragile” and such spaces need entrepreneurial sustainability to survive.
So, building a community that fosters communication and innovation isn’t just important for members – but for operators too.
However, the future of the coworking market looks assured as the 2018 Global Coworking Forecast predicts more than 30,400 spaces and more than five million coworking members by 2022.
So, as long as spaces continue to foster innovation and collaboration, the future of coworking looks very promising.