Over the past several years, work environments have been redefined in many ways. Changing workplace demographics and generational needs have transformed traditional work spaces into more communal and productive places.
In particular, coworking spaces–defined by shared or communal membership-based workspace settings where diverse groups of remote contractors, independent professionals, and freelancers work together–have become a popular and common trend in today’s work culture.
Research shows that coworking is more productive than traditional work environments. Due to factors like meaning, job control, and strong communities, coworking is helping to facilitate effective models for the future of more productive and healthy business workplaces.
Coworking spaces are the fun and inspiring alternatives to the traditional office experience. Many business leaders and workers believe that work should not be limited to space or place, but by the individual and their abilities. As such, the culture of these work hubs offers the flexibility, diversity, and utilities to make for more productive and creative work environments. In fact, Deskmag’s Annual Coworking Study shows that 62% of coworking participants saw their standard of work improve.
Curious to know why coworking spaces are harbingers of productivity? Harvard Business Review assess three important factors that may offer higher work productivity:
Many people who use coworking spaces think of their professions as meaningful. Generally, freelancers and independent contractors pursue work that is close to their hearts or interests. Purpose is a big part of what motivates and helps keep workers happy. Some ways coworking space helps facilitate purpose is through:
- Less competition — Coworking spaces house people from various industries and projects. As a result, there is less chance for competition and infighting because everyone is focused on their own work. In fact, it may even make a worker’s identity stronger. People are frequently given the opportunity to share and describe what they do.
- Helping/Learning — Surveys also show that satisfaction in coworking spaces may be tied to a culture of helping others and learning from them. A unique set of skill sets from many different industries may provide beneficial learning opportunities to expand ideas for community members.
- The Coworking Manifesto — Lastly, members of over 1,700 coworking spaces sign and adhere to the coworking manifesto. The manifesto is a set of values that promotes meaning because they can aspire to community, collaboration, learning, and sustainability. In many ways, being apart of a social community allows for them to have more purpose in their everyday workspace.
Coworking spaces also provide members with more opportunities for job control. They can decide their schedules because many spaces are accessible 24/7. It allows for more life/work balance which is desirable for many Millennials.
Different setups like quiet work stations or collaborative spaces like shared tables allow interaction and sharing ideas and opinions. Many coworkers value this freedom, but it also offers them structure if they need it. Often, the incentives of community helps to form structure and discipline for attaining goals. Small forms of structure allow for optimum job control for workers.
Community has been shown to stimulate collaboration and innovation. Likewise, data proves that direct communication fosters fluid conversations that lead to impactful decisions and effective problem-solving. One of the main motivators for joining a coworking space is the opportunity for socialization. However, the important aspect of community is that it’s not forced. Members have the freedom to choose when to interact with other workers. They can decide when to take advantage of communal space to communicate with others. Some research shows that even if members interact less with people, they still feel a sense of community. There is an understanding that if they need to communicate with others, they have the opportunity. In fact, surveys show that 64% of workers are able to complete tasks better in coworking settings.
The Future of Work Spaces
It is likely that traditional companies will have to leverage the relevance of coworking space specific to their industry’s demographics. Businesses like Amazon, Google, and Twitter have already utilized flexible workspaces in a meaningful way. Many companies are making co-working a part of their business strategy and this trend should continue. Offering flexibility and community for workers can help to create an environment that gives them additional purpose and meaning.
Corporations have increasingly started to offer better designed work environments (quiet and collaborative areas) designed specifically to facilitate connections between coworkers. This has been supplemented by offering networking, training, and other social events. This should lead to a future where the workplace will be healthier, more purposeful, and ultimately more productive.