Co-working has moved beyond the disruptor stage to become an established way of working. The number of spaces continues to ramp-up globally with membe
Co-working has moved beyond the disruptor stage to become an established way of working. The number of spaces continues to ramp-up globally with membership rates growing at around 40% per year. But in this new environment, how can we all work in harmony and feel the benefits? We spoke to Richard Morris, UK CEO, Spaces to discover how.
“Co-working spaces provide workers with all the social interaction of an office without restricting them to fixed hours and routines. These are environments that are specifically designed to allow flexibility, with employee wellbeing being a key priority when it comes to aesthetic design decisions and the inclusion of communal areas such as cafes, bars and activity-led breakout areas. They also have the added advantage of providing a ready-made pool of potentially valuable new business contacts.
The way in which co-working space is being consumed constantly shifts and evolves, with many professionals choosing to take space on a semi-regular or even permanent basis. Forward-thinking business leaders are looking at empty desk-space in centralised offices and understanding the wasted expense. They are listening to workers struggling with the daily cost and frustration of commuting. And they are positioning in a more agile fashion in order to attract the cream of the job-seeking crop – location no longer being a handicap to securing the best employees. This flexible approach provides a foundation to further explore the possibilities of tailoring working programmes to individuals in a way that simply isn’t feasible under a fixed structure.
Of course, the very point of such environments is that there is no such thing as normal – working patterns can shift to suit the individual. As the structure of the typical working day continues to evolve, businesses are becoming better at managing by results rather than face-time, enabling individuals to work when and where they want.
Given this ‘anything goes’ environment, it is interesting to monitor the language used to discuss co-working. Commentators talk about the vibrancy of such spaces, and the buzz of creative environments that enable kindred spirits to network. They talk in terms of collaboration – individuals bouncing ideas off each other. So far so good – and so exciting.
But this approach is one of many. Members of co-working environments are not duty-bound to break every hour for brainstorming sessions around the coffee hub. First and foremost, these are environments geared towards productivity, towards getting the job done. The first thought of any professional must surely be – will this space enable me to complete tasks to the best of my ability?
That’s why the best spaces offer a combination of working areas to suit different temperaments. While some professionals may prefer the social interaction of working around a communal table, others may prefer a more private booth or a quiet corner. Similarly, different tasks call for different types of space, including areas for brainstorming and collaboration and spaces for quieter work. The ‘co-working culture’ embraces all of these ways of working and more.
Business leaders or individuals may make the mistake of equating co-working solely with entrepreneurial extroverts, believing that these spaces are suited only to certain jobs and tasks. But this is very far from the truth and potentially damaging if such thinking results in the option of working more flexibly being sidelined and the associated business advantages being ignored.
In fact, the co-working culture encourages individualism as much as social collaboration. It encourages people to work in ways which suit their own temperament, match their own productivity patterns and fit their schedule on any given day. Indeed, the co-working culture is best described by what it is not. It is not conforming to an office dress-code, it is not shoe-horning working hours around set times and routines; it is not the same old 9-5.
Whether energetically collaborating one day or being quietly industrious the next, co-working space provides an environment for professionals to be themselves. This freedom is resulting in some truly inspired performances.”