Over the next few years, the concept of coworking will become so ubiquitous that the word “cowork” may no longer exist. In 2033, when Freddie from HR at Deloitte says he’s going to the office, what he will be referring to is a coworking but there’s no need to say that, everyone already knows. Of course ‘the office’ he refers to is a communal and shared workspace with well-being rooms, healthy delivered lunches, weekly afterwork networking drinks, beautifully designed meeting rooms and bathrooms with funky wallpaper. This is what all his friends’ offices look like, his girlfriend’s and his Dad’s too. Even his niece’s internship is in a place that looks like this. But why will all workspaces in 15 years time be what we now know as coworkings? There are 6 compelling reasons.
Disclaimer: It’s needless to say that not every single office space in the world will be a coworking; some headquarters, for example, are likely to remain as they are. However, the point is that the coworking concept will no longer be an anomaly, it will be very normal, perhaps even the norm.
Coworkings increase productivity. That is no longer an educated guess; the research has been done and the results are in. Not only do people FEEL more productive when working in coworking spaces but companies are reporting an increase in profits since incorporating coworking into their office space options for employees. According to Deskmag’s Annual Global Coworking Survey, 71% of those surveyed said they were more creative since joining a coworking space, 62% said their standard of work had improved, 68% they were more focused and 64% said they could better complete tasks on time. Similarly, OfficeVibe’s 2017 infographic reported similar results; 68% said they had better focus when working in a cowork space. Pretty remarkable percentages!
One possible reason for the increase in productivity? Increased health among people that work from coworkings in comparison to those that don’t. Deskmag’s 2017 Global Coworking Survey Canada found that members of coworking spaces reported less back or neck pain, fewer headaches and less overall stress levels than non-members. And nope, these results weren’t dependant on the younger average age present in coworks.
2. Aesthetic Benefits
Humans are affected by their surroundings. One of the big differences between coworking spaces and regular offices is the attention to design. To emphasise this point, here at OneCoWork, we have full-time interior designers whose sole job is to make sure, with the utmost scrutiny, that the interiors of our workspaces maximise the experience, the comfort and the productivity of the community. Did you know that people feel more innovative when ceilings stand at 10ft or more and that those who work in spaces with greenery and/or natural features report a 15% higher level of well-being, 6% more productive and 15% more creative? Cowork spaces dedicate time to researching the science behind design and apply it with meticulous detail in order to get the most out of their members.
I just ate a chicken and salad tortilla wrap for lunch. Who did I eat my delicious chicken wrap with? I ate it with a full stack software engineer, a freelance personal trainer, a lawyer, an interior designer, a freelance Spanish teacher and a life coach. What did we talk about? The development of artificial intelligence. Can you imagine how interesting a conversation was about artificial intelligence from the point of view of so many people from such different backgrounds?
Networking is the key to new collaborations, new clients and new ideas. Deskmag’s 2017 Global Coworking Survey found that 71% of members collaborated with other members, 11% of which was forming a new company or business.
Many of the bigger corporations are beginning to (and those that aren’t definitely should) utilise the organically curated inter-industry connections that a coworking has to offer.
Humans are social by nature and we function at optimum level when we feel like we are part of a community. I personally feel it. I feel happier, more productive, more positive, more energetic and even more empathetic, compassionate and giving when I have meaningful interactions with a variety of people throughout my day. Other than my own intrinsic experience, there are actually hard facts; the effects of lack of social interaction are well known (see here, here and here).
5. The Startup Effect
I have no doubt major corporations will make the transition to coworking in the coming years, some already are; the likes of Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM and KPMG to name but a few. Why? One reason being because people become more like those they spend time around; ‘The Startup Effect’ I’ll call this. Let me explain.
What many large corporations could benefit from is an agile approach to project management and decision making. This approach is made harder once scaled to the size of some major corporations, so many of them lose sight of it. What do I mean by an agile approach? The ability to make decisions quickly and easily and the ability to manage a project using the division of tasks into short phases of work with frequent reassessment of the original plan. What types of companies apply agile flawlessly? Startups. Where do many startups now work from? Coworks.
Do you see where this is going? If large corporations spend more time working around and interacting with very agile acting startups, their ‘agileness’ will rub off and therefore in turn making the corporations more agile in their approach to their work. I’m not crazy in thinking this transference of skills is likely, look at these findings: Andrew A.G. Mattar and Paul L. Gribble carried out experiments that found when we observe the actions of others, we activate the same neural circuitry responsible for planning and executing our own actions. In other words, we learn through observation.
Humans are extraordinary at imitation. We are master imitators and it is because of this that it is in the benefit of corporate companies to work in close proximity to smaller startups in order to become more agile in their operations.
Last but definitely not least, the talent available in coworking spaces is unparalleled. The first type of talent I’m referring to is from the partnerships some coworking spaces have with highly specialised and prestigious universities. OneCoWork’s knowledge partner, Harbour Space, supplies many of our Members with highly skilled students undergoing training in software development, data science, UX Design and Fintech. This direct access to this source of talent is truly unique to cowork spaces and is a huge pull factor for startups and large corporations alike.
The second type of talent acquisition is exterior talent. Companies need to offer the most talented, the most in-demand people something different, something they can’t get elsewhere to encourage them to work for them over someone else. A coworking is a hugely attractive benefit a company can offer their employees. It is for this reason that a cowork space can be an irresistible magnet for highly reputable talent.
The future of “coworking” isn’t looking good but the future of communal work spaces with inspirational design, kitchens equipped with unlimited tea and coffee, lounge areas flooded with natural light, book exchanges found at the top of strategically designed staircases, weekly networking events and, last but definitely not least, bathrooms with funky wallpapers? The future is bright!
Ben Nachoom is cofounder of OneCoWork, an award-winning, Barcelona based coworking space. He and his team are currently in the process of opening OneCoWork’s second space, a 6 storey building, right in the heart of Barcelona, Plaça Catalunya.
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Hubert Grealish says
Also slightly reiterating on the work joys of bridging the gap between productivity and contentment in the workplace, I would add the role of ‘serendipity’ is powerful as well.
some of the great solutions and ideas come from the odd coffee or chat with a friend or of course a cowork buddy.
Hope we can continue to learn and grow in ‘community as well as cash’!