What Coworking Really Does To Your Team
Things to keep in mind when considering a coworking space
written by Valentina Sokolova
This is a guest post by Kayla Matthews.
Coworking is using an office or work environment with others who are self-employed or remote workers. Much like the traditional office space, this means sharing facilities, equipment and more.
While coworking spaces used to be dominated by lone freelancers, large multinational corporations like IBM, Facebook, AT&T and more have started placing remote employees in coworking offices around the world. Because of this growth in popularity, coworking spaces have seen an increase in workers, with one provider, WeWork, seeing a 370 percent increase in its customer base in the last year alone.
There’s a lot of benefit to these professional collaboration spots, from networking opportunities to sources of inspiration. But it’s not all positive. There are also some unfortunate downsides, such as an effect on employee focus due to poor design.
The Positives of Coworking
A lot of people, especially those who don’t typically work around others, can benefit from coworking.
When you work around other people, especially those with different backgrounds and skill sets, you have to break out of your comfort zone. This can be beneficial, giving you and your team a chance to look at problems and solutions in fresh new ways. A co-worker may inspire you to think of your job in a way you’ve never considered. Likewise, a co-working space with like-minded individuals, such as a group restricted to graphic designers or writers, can foster a community for exchanging ideas and reaching goals. Overall, coworking can put you around people who will push you to work harder and be more productive.
All coworking spaces are unique, filled with a diverse group of workers from a variety of backgrounds and expertise all working in close proximity. This is a great opportunity to meet and introduce yourself to established professionals, entrepreneurs, skilled freelancers and more. Seek out people who are goal-oriented and eager to network and collaborate with others. Be open to talking about ideas and hashing out problems you’re stuck on. The more you network and connect, the more opportunity you have to use those connections in the future.
One study found the mindset created by a coworking environment made 64 percent of entrepreneurs more productive. Workers also felt more confident and focused, leading to an atmosphere conducive to clearing to-do lists. In a space where everyone is busy working on their own projects and you have no one looking over your shoulder, it’s easy to find the motivation to get work done. And, when you need to take a break or get fresh air outside, you have the flexibility to do just that.
The Negatives of Coworking
While coworking comes with a lot of benefits, it's not always an idyllic paradise. All spaces are different, managed in different ways and filled with different people. If you find yourself in a spot that’s not for you, you could face some of the common downsides to coworking.
In some coworking spaces, especially ones in large cities home to tech and telecom giants, it can get crowded and noisy during certain hours and days. With more people, there’s typically more noises and distractions. But you can avoid distractions without having to find a new space. If the atmosphere starts to buzz with chatter, consider breaking out the noise-canceling headphones. Or, suggest the use of a white noise machine to the community curator, which can help workers focus.
With the proper design, workers can thrive in coworking environments. But a poorly designed space can affect motivation and productivity. When looking for a space for you and your team, look for one with plenty of natural light. Natural light in an office space has been shown to increase mental alertness, engagement, and productivity. Other positive design aspects to seek out include a variety of seating options, meeting rooms for conference calls, fast and reliable internet and a community curator to answer questions and ensure everything runs smoothly.
One common concern with shared coworking spaces is the lack of privacy. You work in a space with people from all types of companies, sometimes even competitors. To get the most out of your coworking experience, search for a spot with glass dividers instead of walls or open spaces. Bring your own laptop to prevent others from accessing any online accounts due to accidentally saved passwords. And always gather up all of your materials and take them home at the end of the day.
Unfortunately, using a coworking space isn’t free. There’re typically monthly fees associated with using the office and the equipment inside. This means you will have to read a lease and determine if it’s worth signing, which can be a hassle. To ensure you have a positive experience, look for a space that’s up-front about pricing and will fit in your budget. Spaces vary in cost, so do your research ahead of time to know the current market value and what you can expect to pay. As a bonus, look for a space with convenient amenities like an outdoor courtyard, coffee bar or yoga studio.
Your Transition to Coworking
Coworking spaces are becoming a growing trend for entrepreneurs, small business and even multinational corporations. And it's not hard to see why. There are a lot of benefits to utilizing professional collaboration spaces, from networking with new connections to boosting productivity levels. But there can also be downsides to the experience, mainly arises from poor design and lack of privacy. With coworking spaces becoming more crowded, more and more workers are concerned about the possibility of a negative experience.
If you're searching for a coworking space for yourself or your workers, keep in mind the right space will be roomy and full of plenty of natural sunlight. You should also find a space with privacy options like transparent cubicles or meeting rooms. A positive coworking experience can ultimately better performance, increase focus and enhance creativity.