Co-working has grown exponentially in recent years meeting the demand for flexible, affordable office space from freelancers, solo-preneurs, digital nomads, start-ups, professional contractors and small businesses.
Not only does co-working offer a more agile way of working – particularly if you are starting out or planning to grow – you usually benefit from working in a great location, with good transport links and with the sort-of facilities that workers now expect (a cool workspace, decent coffee machine, a receptionist….that sort of thing).
However, there are some less obvious benefits to co-working that explain why this is the future of work for so many people.
You thrive and are happier
Employees who work in a flexible working setting, either with a diverse group of independent professionals and start-ups or with adjustable hours are, on average, 90 per cent happier than those doing jobs in regular offices, according to a study by Regus. Data also shows that three-quarters of workers think that flexible working makes employees more productive. It follows that a happy workforce is a more productive one, so either way it is a win/win for your business.
Work is more meaningful
The lack of office politics (you are not chasing after the same promotion as the person sitting next to you) and the fact that co-working is a culture where it is the norm to help each other out, adds to the meaningfulness of what you are doing – you are part of a social movement, not just turning up for work. Being allowed to get on with what you were employed to do without your boss watching your every move gives you confidence and helps you grow in your role.
You are part of a community
Working from home can be isolating, as can renting a small office. Going into a co-working space where people know your name, ask how you are and are there is a shared sense of purpose from like-minded people helps you feel like you belong. Humans thrive on interaction with others, and the opportunity to chat over a coffee in a relaxed communal space or contribute to professional development events can be invaluable to growing your business.
You have more control
Need to drop the children off at school? The latest appointment at your dentist is at 5pm? Your car needs dropping off at the garage? Whether you need to start early, work late or pop out during the day, co-working spaces allow you the flexibility to work when you need to. And with others around you dropping in and out of the office as they please, without prying eyes questioning why you weren’t at your desk, you don’t have to worry about backstabbing colleagues. After all, as long as you get your job done on time, does it really matter where you are?
Work is separate from home
The temptation to sit in your pyjamas all day working from the kitchen table can often be too much for some. Bring a bit of routine into your working life by settling in at your local co-working space. It doesn’t mean a long commute, and gives you the opportunity to draw on the expertise of like-minded individuals. At least at the end of the day you can physically leave the office – and we all need down time.
You are more productive
It is a lot harder to sit playing games or staring into space because you have hit a creative “block” when there is a buzz of activity around you. Not only is this incredibly motivating, you can bounce ideas of each other and learn from each other. The inspiration and creative spark you can gain through sharing ideas, listening to advice and learning from each other in a co-work space can improve your business too. With 74 per cent of workers saying that flexible working fosters creative thinking, it is no wonder that many people see co-working spaces as the future of working.
You can generate more business
Although co-work spaces are inhabited by a diverse range of professionals, creatives and start-ups, the networking opportunities mean you can often work for each other as well as with each other. Make the most of your ever-changing co-workers and form new partnerships to develop your business, from using a local designer to create your new website, or a distribution company to deliver your goods.
Putting aside the business reasons, the office is where busy workers make new friends – and even find their future spouses. Co-workers, even though they may work doing very different things, tend to socialise together and is a key reason people are members. After all, even if you misread the situation and make a fool of yourself, you can always sit next to someone different the day after!