Co-working is the shared working environment phenomenon that’s been popular among start-ups, creative agencies, and freelancers in cities across the world for over a decade. Since its initial emergence from the hip creative communities of Berlin and San Francisco, co-working is now an established practice in the modern working world and is particularly popular with entrepreneurs and small businesses. But what are the real benefits of co-working that have made it such a successful format? We take a look at 5 key insights behind its popularity to see how this can benefit businesses in the long term.
1. Cohesion with modern work habits
Co-working spaces and collaborative office environments are largely used by millennials. Their rise in prevalence is down to their popularity with business owners who employ people in this age bracket. Workers in this demographic often prefer or are more accustomed to a non-standard working structure. That includes working outside normal business hours, occasional off-site business and working from home. The transient, open nature of co-working spaces accommodate this need for flexible working schedules. It’s likely this trend is only set to continue given that by the year 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce.
2. More productive employees
Co-working spaces are proven to help with employee motivation, productivity, and overall feelings of empowerment. The open-space approach encourages a more inclusive, collaborative environment where boundaries between colleagues and departments are broken down. This can reduce elements typical of traditional office setups such as hierarchy and office politics. It can also make it easier for employees to get to know people outside the immediate vicinity; 91% of co-working employees said they had better interactions with colleagues in a recent study by Officevibe. Employee motivation and a sense of ownership, in turn, lead to increased productivity and a sense of genuine contribution to the business.
3. Networking and growth possibilities
Renting a co-working space provides you with the perfect place to host your own events. This can range from training forums, networking events, or simply post-work team building activities. Networking events or industry-specific forums can serve as the perfect way to bring in client prospects and to consolidate relationships. This is also much more cost effective than renting a separate venue or bar. In addition, co-working spaces open up opportunities for businesses to exchange services and expand with like-minded business owners. One burgeoning marketing agency could offer services to their co-working neighbours who are launching a new payments system, while an entrepreneur may encounter a like-minded counterpart who becomes a future investor.
Co-working spaces are typically occupied by those in creative industries such as digital marketing, design or PR – where ideas are currency. The open-plan environments allow for quick and easy collaboration with people nearby, yet it’s the non-standard set-ups of co-working spaces that can get the creative juices flowing. Workers are able to migrate from desk spots to sofa areas, meeting rooms and “break-out spaces” designed to break away from typical working routines and let those ideas fly. In fact, a survey by Deskmag dating back to 2012 states that 71% of participants said they felt more creative in their co-working space.
5. Employee comfort
Co-working spaces, as well as being relaxed and flexible working environments in general, typically feature large kitchen or café areas which provide a laid-back, homely atmosphere. Employers who occupy co-working spaces are also known to provide food and other perks for their employees, allowing for employee money saving as well as further feelings of employee satisfaction. Snacks or trips to the fruit bowl during the day can also be a great way to boost motivation and productivity when employees return to their desks. A survey by Glassdoor showed that such perks and benefits were amongst their top considerations when accepting a job.
With the co-working trend set to continue to be a staple for entrepreneurs and small businesses, we can expect to see more spaces, and the collaborative culture that comes with them, take over our working environments in the near future.