Working from home has its ups and downs. On the one hand, a home office is more flexible, saves time and money on commuting, and allows digital nomads to roam where they are happiest. But on the other hand, it can be harder to form workplace connections and flourish without a space to gather as a team.
If you want to create a dynamic, collaborative environment that sparks innovation and a sense of community, consider tapping into the power of coworking.
As you navigate the remote work landscape, you’ve likely come across the coworking movement. Coworking spaces have been cropping up left, right, and center — but what exactly is coworking, and why are businesses globally singing its praises? Let’s demystify the concept.
What is Coworking?
Coworking is a contemporary workstyle concept that's gaining traction in our increasingly mobile and virtual office world. It revolves around shared workspaces that are communally used by individuals from different organizations or professional backgrounds. These coworking spaces typically offer an array of amenities like Wi-Fi, office equipment, meeting rooms, and coffee bars, similar to a traditional office.
Who Uses Coworking Spaces?
Coworking spaces are particularly appealing to remote workers, freelancers, entrepreneurs, small teams, and businesses that don't necessarily require a dedicated office. Instead, it provides a professional environment to operate from on an as-needed basis.
In a coworking space, your team members can show up with their laptop and get right to work, without worrying about overhead costs or setting up utilities. It's a plug-and-play solution, offering an on-demand, flexible workspace that adapts to your company’s needs.
History of Coworking
The term "coworking" was reportedly first used by Bernie DeKoven, a game designer, in 1999, to describe a digital, collaborative work methodology.
It was in 2005 that one of the first coworking spaces was opened by Brad Neuberg in San Francisco, aiming to combine the freedom of independent working with the community and structure of an office environment.
Since then, coworking has snowballed into a global movement, with thousands of coworking spaces cropping up in cities worldwide. Technology advancements, the rise of remote work, and the desire for flexible work arrangements have all contributed to its burgeoning popularity.
Features of Coworking Spaces
Coworking spaces offer a variety of flavors to cater to the diverse needs of today's workforce. From big players like WeWork, providing spaces in cities around the globe, to smaller, niche spaces specializing in specific industries or clientele, the spectrum of coworking environments is broad and dynamic. Common features include:
- Phone booths: Need to take a private call or video conference without disturbing others? Coworking spaces typically provide phone booths for just that purpose.
- Wi-Fi: High-speed, reliable Wi-Fi is a given in any coworking space. It's the lifeline of digital work after all.
- Dedicated desks: While the notion of coworking often implies a shared, fluid workspace, many coworking spaces also offer dedicated desks that your team members can make their own.
- Conference rooms: Formal meetings, brainstorming sessions, or client pitches — whatever the need, coworking spaces usually come equipped with space for group work.
- Quiet areas: To balance out the hustle and bustle of communal work areas, coworking spaces often feature quiet zones designed for focused, distraction-free work.
- Additional perks: Free coffee, tea, snacks, and sometimes even beer on tap! Many coworking spaces offer these perks to make the workday a little more enjoyable and keep your team fueled.
Remember, while these features are typically found in various types of coworking spaces, each space has its unique vibe. It's all about finding the right fit for your team.
Advantages of Coworking for Your Business
Coworking spaces, in essence, are more than just a shared office space. They provide many advantages that can cater to the varied needs of your employees and your business. Here's a snapshot of some general benefits:
- Flexibility: Coworking spaces offer flexible plans that allow you to upsize or downsize as needed.
- Networking events: They present an excellent opportunity for team members to network, collaborate, and learn from a diverse pool of professionals.
- Cost-efficiency: They eliminate the overhead costs of setting up and maintaining a traditional office.
- Improved work-life wellness: They provide a dedicated workspace away from home, helping create a clear work-life boundary for remote workers.
- Team identity: A dedicated space within a larger coworking environment helps establish a stronger team identity.
- Space customization: Some coworking spaces allow customization of dedicated areas, so you can align the space with your brand identity.
- Combats loneliness: The social aspect of coworking spaces helps people overcome loneliness and improves wellbeing.
In a nutshell, coworking spaces, be they shared or dedicated, offer a flexible, cost-efficient, and productive workspace solution. It promotes networking, collaboration, and a more balanced work-life dynamic.
Should You Invest in a Coworking Space?
It can be challenging to decide whether to invest in a coworking space through memberships for your team. But your decision can be informed by factors like:
- How are performance levels among your remote workers?
- Are your employees thriving in their current work environment, or could they use a boost?
- Is isolation or lack of structure proving to be a hurdle?
- Do you have teams in one city, so you can explore a team-level membership? Or do you need distributed memberships for dispersed teams?
Gathering feedback from your employees can help you answer some of these questions. After all, they're the ones who'll be using the coworking spaces! Consider running an employee survey to gauge their interest and uncover any specific needs they may have.
On the more practical side of things, you may also need to assess the pricing of coworking spaces. While they can be more cost-effective than traditional offices, it’s important that the potential benefits justify the expense for your budget. At the end of the day, investing in a coworking space should be a strategic move that propels your workforce forward, enhancing productivity, collaboration, and overall satisfaction.
Building Coworking Relationships Through Wellness Activities
A shared coworking space does more than just offer a productive work environment—it opens up a world of opportunities to strengthen relationships and foster wellness among your team. Imagine leveraging the community aspect of a coworking space to host wellness activities. Perhaps you could organize weekly yoga sessions, run mindfulness workshops, or even host nutrition classes right in the shared kitchen.
Moreover, these onsite wellness activities can be a seamless extension of your broader wellbeing program. They can complement any virtual wellness initiatives you may already be running, ensuring that your coworking members are not missing out on these important benefits.
In essence, coworking spaces can become a conduit for delivering holistic wellness to your team, nurturing both their professional growth and personal wellbeing. If you want to learn more about how to build stronger, healthier teams every day, reach out to a Gympass wellbeing specialist today!
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The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.