“Coworking spaces will become even more important and more popular in the post-pandemic world, not just for entrepreneurs and freelancers (the stereotypical users of coworking spaces), but especially for large companies,” writes Travis Howell in an article for the MIT Sloan Management Review.
Buffer’s 2022 State Of Remote Work report echoes this sentiment. Of the 2,000 remote workers who took part in Buffer’s survey, 41% said they would prefer to primarily work from multiple locations, like a coworking space, if the pandemic were to end today.
Just over half (52%) of Buffer’s respondents were employees, while 42% described themselves as independent consultants or freelancers. It’s clear that coworking’s influence extends way beyond the sphere of the self-employed, with an increasing proportion of the world’s employees experiencing the benefits it has to offer.
Source: 2022 State of Remote Work, Buffer
Big business coworking is nothing new, but since 2020 it has been gaining momentum.
Take Spotify, for instance. In response to its employee survey, and to give staff the “perfect balance of flexibility, employment security and job fulfilment”, it let its workforce work from wherever they want - including from home, HQs or a coworking space.
This approach proved successful from a staff retention perspective. In fact, Spotify reported a 15% decrease in attrition rates compared with 2019.
Speaking to Insider, Spotify’s Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, Travis Robinson, said: “this is an opportunity to scrap the idea that big cities are the only places where meaningful work can happen because we know firsthand that isn’t true.”
Tech giants aside, SMEs are also getting on board.
Owl Labs, which employs around 50 people, provides its employees with a stipend that can be used towards a membership at a coworking space of their choosing. Coworking stipends can help small-to-medium businesses cut down on their real estate costs and avoid getting tied into longer-term office leases.
Spotify isn’t the only business letting its employees ‘work from anywhere’.
A change is as good as a rest, as the proverb goes. New environments can help spark inspiration and nurture new ideas. In other words, physically getting employees out of the box (i.e. their home) can get them thinking outside of the box too.
Owl Labs conducted a survey to find out how its employees work in different environments. The percentage of workers who say they’re more productive doing these activities in coworking space, as opposed to in the office or remote, are as follows:
Getting consensus: 24%
Team meetings: 21%
Managing others: 20%
Meeting new people: 20%
Creative thinking: 17%
Coworking spaces tend to be more laid back than corporate offices – and more fun.
But they’re also kitted out with exemplary meeting rooms, the latest business amenities and new technology, making them hives of productivity and appealing to clients. Good first impressions count, especially when competition is rife and budgets are tight.
An article for Harvard Business Review highlights how successful communication can be driven by the following three factors, all of which coworking can help facilitate:
Engagement, where employees collaborate within their team
Exploration, where employees collaborate with people outside their team
Energy, where employees collaborate with and draw inspiration from both groups
Brainstorming over video in an under-heated or cramped home isn’t the same as meeting colleagues in a comfortable work environment that has been specially designed to support collaboration. Over a cup of nice coffee!
Some people are more productive when working from home. Others are at the top of their game when they’re in the office, or splitting their time between the two.
Either way, working from home every single day can be isolating. In 2022, James Rice, an SEO and Growth Marketing Professional, shared his biggest remote working challenges with Clockify. Loneliness was one of them.
His advice was to “try a coworking space and interact with people online or in person, and “try to get together with your colleagues face-to-face as much as possible and participate in video conferences.” Coworking spaces are set up to support those organic interactions and shared experiences that can be so good for our mental wellbeing.
Home WiFi can be unpredictable. But employees tend to experience less ‘downtime’ in coworking spaces that are wired with superfast WiFi. In fact, coworking spaces provide many of the tools the average desk-based employee needs to succeed, from reliable internet, meeting rooms and printing facilities, to snacks and coffee.
Coworking spaces can benefit employers and employees monetarily too. Here are some of the ways coworking can cut costs for both parties.
Zero maintenance or dilapidation costs
Everything included in the rent (utilities, cleaning, internet, etc.)
Money saved on commute
No need to heat home during work hours
Free tea, coffee and biscuits!
Most coworking spaces are accessible 24/7 to full-time members (of course, we’d never condone anyone actually working in a coworking space 24/7). This means that as long as their employer agrees, the employee can choose working hours that suit their homelife, safe in the knowledge that they have a comfortable space to work in.
According to findings from a GCUC survey, 69% of coworkers said working in a coworking space enabled them to learn new skills while 68% found that they improved their existing skills after joining one. Employees in coworking spaces can practise the skills they gain in their work, helping their employer’s business to thrive and grow.
Research by Zoro shows that 72% of professionals think having more work benefits would increase their job satisfaction. Meanwhile, FlexJobs data reveals that 83% of millennials think work-life balance is the most important factor when evaluating a potential job.
A dedicated workplace, as we know, can help people establish a better work-life balance because it helps to keep work out of the home environment. Coworking memberships also come with a range of perks, from local discounts to regular social events.
With monthly rolling contracts available, coworking requires little commitment from employers and employees alike. So, if an employee needs to work from home for a couple of months due to a family situation, they can do so and return to their chosen coworking space when they’re ready. Likewise, if the employer’s coworking budget runs out, they can pause their membership stipends until they source the funding.
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