Coworking spaces are becoming increasingly popular workplace alternatives for business employees, freelancers, and contractors all over the world. New and interactive environments are offering the benefits of improved resources and more creative, lively environments. A new report shows that coworking is so sustainable that the number of people working in coworking spaces is expected to rise to 1.18 million in 2017, a fact that may surprise the many co-working critics and naysayers.
In today’s world many business models are transforming to include coworking spaces as initiatives that better serve their employees. But is coworking really better for working? Considering factors like productivity, community, networking, and cost, let’s examine the pros and the cons of the coworking setting and why it could benefit the future of business.
Pro #1: Interaction and Increased Productivity
Coworking settings differ by location. One space may be a large, open floorplan in a large high-rise building while another may include various floor in a renovated warehouse. In any case, these mainly open environments with a mix of workstations and communal floorplans can be an influential factor for innovative ideas and diversification of work practices. Surveys show that 64% of coworkers are better able to complete tasks and 68% reported that they were able to focus much better on their work. In addition, a Deskmag’s Annual Coworking Study found that 62% of coworking participants increased their standard of work.
Bonus Pro: Increased Creativity
In addition to improved productivity which increased interaction facilitates, increased creativity is also widely reported as a benefit amongst those who use coworking spaces. Individually, it can take a prolonged amount of time to figure out solutions to work problems. However, collaborative work spaces allow budding entrepreneurs to seek advice in their immediate environments. If they can find someone who’s experienced a similar issue, they may more easily find a solution or helpful suggestion. Of noteworthy interest, a Cardiff Metropolitan University report analyzed the value of collaborative spaces and identified that they were valued by their members as unique places to “meet, interact, experiment, ideate, and prototype new solutions” and that they acted as “creative platforms built on trust, concentration, motivation, and knowledge” where people could focus their creative efforts, interests, and skills. Furthermore, these diverse environments can foster a great sense of wide-ranging thoughts on different subjects which an individual member would not achieve individually.
Pro #2: Networking
Interaction in coworking spaces also lead to the essential benefit of networking and expanding one’s work enterprises. Networking is one of the many reasons people use coworking spaces. The coworking environment is like an ecosystem of innovation where you can bounce ideas off of other outside professionals–even ones in different, but relatable work fields. A Knoll study indicates that 82% of coworkers cited an increase in the size of their business network. The study’s statistics also show that networking also benefitted:
- 83% experienced decreased isolation
- 84% reported increased engagement and motivation
- 89% expressed higher degrees of happiness
- 68% indicated improvements in their skill sets
In addition, coworking spaces can allow for works to discover new ideas, acknowledge new talent, target potential markets, and partner with collaborators.
Pro #3: Community
The many benefits of networking may lead to a greater sense of community and purpose in coworking circles. The amount of resources and people allow for more effective learning and peer-to-peer exchanges. Community offers the ability to nurture synergies and add value to everyone who participates in the scheme. Often, people report feeling they have a greater purpose because a other people care about their success and generally wish to help develop their ideas. A 2014 study conducted by The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan shows the most common reason people seek coworking spaces is to belong to a community. In addition, research supports the idea that working social connections can positively impact health and productivity of workers. A Gallup poll concludes that close working relationships propel employee satisfaction by 50% and people with best friends at work are seven times more likely to be engaged at work. As a result, this type of work space can foster an entrepreneurial grassroots movement.
Pro #4: Renting Space = Lower Costs
Supporting your business requires a significant amount of capital. However, if you’d like the advantages of high-tech office supplies, but want to save money on space, a coworking space could be the best option. Shared environments allow the opportunity for lower costs than private offices. A benefit is that business owners will not have to sign long leases and it allows your business and its workers to maintain a sense of flexibility and freedom.
Con #1: Distractions
Coworking offices are supposed to provide improved productivity. However, some people can get distracted easily from their work because they engage in highly social environments. However, excessive amounts noise and distraction can make a case for poor concentration and productivity. Unpredictable environments may result from the wide range of businesses, roles, and people that your workers interact with on a daily basis. Common courtesies may may suffer due to the lack of traditional office behaviors.
If you’re planning to rent a coworking space for your employees, you may want to take a survey to see who does and doesn’t work well in a communal space. Nurturing worker productivity may help you understand your coworkers and their work habits more clearly.
Con #2: Conflict
Some express a lack of connection in their new coworking spaces. Frequent interactions with coworkers of different business may result in employees bonding and maintaining closer relationships with coworkers who are not colleagues from the same company. As a result, these employees may experience disconnection from daily business operations at their own organization. Without constant interaction with employees, opportunities for team building and career development opportunities may suffer.
Con #3: Competition
The risk of security breaches can occur in any workplace setting. However, the risk is much greater when sharing office space with individuals who do not work for the same business. Since, you may not have relationships with everyone who utilizes the space, there may be more problems with privacy. Businesses need to extra careful about protecting competitive data and other assets like intellectual property and confidential company information. Another aspect business leaders need to consider is the opportunity competing business may gain for recruiting your own office staff.
Many Business Celebrate Coworking Spaces
As a business leader, it’s important to weigh the options when deciding whether coworking spaces are the appropriate environments for your business culture. Everyone works differently, and it’s beneficial to make sure each employee is satisfied with his or her workplace environment.
As Millennials become the majority of the workforce by 2025 and 78% of coworkers are under 40, we may start to see the trend dramatically shift in coworking’s favor. In time, improved security and remote communications may mitigate or even negate any cons that are promoted by workplace culture. In the end, we can imagine a more productive world that provides workers with more opportunities, flexibility, and better interpersonal relationships.