Co-working is a fast-growing trend.
Initially, it was the domain of start-ups who’d outgrown their bedroom-based offices and needed a flexible, affordable space for their growing business. But over time the popularity and number of co-working spaces has blossomed, with more and more professionals wanting to decide for themselves how and when they work, so that they can spend more time with family, waste less money on travel and operate from an environment that inspires and motivates them.
Co-working spaces today house a diverse blend of freelancers, entrepreneurs and other independent professionals, all working in a communal setting. It’s easy to see why they’ve even caught the attention of larger corporations, who are looking to downsize their office space and reduce overheads.
Often they’re membership based, and care is taken to build a curated, non-competing community of likeminded individuals, who complement each others’ skillsets. Bespoke, for example, set inside San Francisco’s flagship shopping centre Westfield, is specifically focused on bringing together retail-tech entrepreneurs. Campus London, designed by Google, offers seven floors dedicated to start-up success. Innovation Warehouse in London is a community for entrepreneurs working on high-growth start-ups, where members have easy access to mentors and investors. Meanwhile Huckletree positions itself as a creative and supportive space for eco-friendly businesses particularly.
Every co-working space has its own benefits and vibe, but there are some common reasons why it’s become a popular way to work…
The opportunity to thrive
The reality of home-working can sometimes be quite a lonely one, lacking in structure and social contact. Co-working, on the other hand, offers a supportive, motivational environment where individuals have greater potential to flourish and achieve their full potential.
According to a recent study, people who belong to co-working spaces report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in traditional offices.
There’s a culture of collaboration and community
Generally speaking, co-working spaces tend to house no directly competing individuals, and so there’s no company politics or internal competition to worry about. Instead, it’s an open and non-pressurised environment, where individuals are encouraged to collaborate and share ideas and knowledge, and where it is the norm to help each other out.
According to Deskmag’s second annual Global Co-working Survey, 84% of people who choose to work in co-working spaces do so for the interaction with others.
Google’s Campus London. Photo Credit: Flickr @MaryG_MU
One’s own sense of work identity is stronger
Unlike a company-owned office, co-working spaces by their nature offer a vibrant blend of companies, sole traders, freelancers, projects and new ventures. Working amidst a range of businesses can help to make an individual’s own sense of work identity stronger, and it can therefore be easier to find pride and meaning in what they do. Members of the co-working community often take interest in what others are working on, which creates opportunities for individuals to discuss their own expertise, and define their right to be there.
A better work/life balance
Working from a home office can be great, but it can sometimes take its toll on family life. Hard as one might try, it can be difficult to ‘clock off’ and relax at the end of a working day, when deadlines and workload are mounting. Likewise, if a longer working day is called for around a pressing deadline, it can be tricky to work without distraction when family life is calling through the office door.
Co-working spaces are normally accessible 24/7, so individuals can decide how and when they want to work, around family life, without any repercussions. It can be much healthier to keep work outside of the home.
Opportunity for innovation
Co-working spaces can very often house a hotbed of talent. For example, White Bear Yard in London has been home to Stripe, mopub (acquired by Twitter), Rapportive (acquired by LinkedIn), BuzzFeed, Etsy, Transferwise, General Assembly’s first London campus and many more successful businesses. It goes without saying that a vibrant community of skilled individuals, potentially combining access to mentors and successful business people, is likely to prove fertile ground for innovation and opportunity. Few will connect with a life-changing individual in their living room, but there is ample occasion for this to happen in a co-working environment.
White Bear Yard, London
A dedicated professional space to meet clients
One of the biggest drawbacks to home working is the lack of suitable meeting space to bring clients to. A coffee in Starbucks isn’t always the most appropriate place to meet. If a start-up business, for example, is hoping to create the impression they are larger and more established than they are, it can really help to have a professional meeting space to invite potential new clients to.
Do you work in a co-working environment? If so, has it helped you to find greater sense in what you do for a living, or opened new doors? We’d love you to share below…