A primer on the benefits of coworking

by David Wilson Jones

Coworking spaces are solutions for small start-ups or fast-growing companies. They also cater to remote, independent and self-employed workers and entrepreneurs. Coworking spaces offer a degree of flexibility, affordability and community that regular fixed lease offices can’t, and the diverse range of people they attract can have unexpected boosts and bonuses for businesses of all sizes. As more companies and individuals turn to coworking as a solution for their financial and logistical concerns expect to see a wide variety of spaces open, tailor-made to cater to all aspects of your business.

Productivity and synergy

Whilst there are many perks and bonuses to being a freelancer or a remote worker, one of the downsides is the isolation—if you work from home it’s hard to tap into the energy that is created by working in a team (even if you are collaborating remotely). Aside from that, being in a home environment can be extremely distracting, especially if you don’t have space to set up a home office. Taking a desk in a coworking space can provide a professional, creative working environment, one which bolsters productivity and provides workplace synergy and interaction without sacrificing the independence and flexibility of remote or freelance work.

Cost and flexibility

For a small company, renting an exclusive office space is almost always out of the question. It’s impossible to know quite what the scale of your business is going to be when you’re starting out, and locking yourself into a long term lease on a property is the last thing you want to do. If you need to quickly expand (or streamline), a coworking space provides you with the flexibility to do so, without going into a financial or logistical tailspin. As well as being more efficient for the changing demands of your business, the overall cost of renting part of a coworking space is far less than renting an exclusive office (as much as 70% cheaper in some areas). This is crucial for small or start-up companies, or any business which is looking to reduce overheads but maintains a presence in a desirable or convenient location. Economies where startups are thriving, such as India, are seeing coworking spaces becoming increasingly prevalent as a low-cost solution.

Energy, community and collaboration

Being surrounded by a like-minded group of people in a professional environment means better and more focused work, as well as fostering a strong sense of community (as mentioned above, depending on your circumstances, working from home or in cafes or other public spaces lacks this kind of energy). Collaboration and community are essential components of the coworking experience, and many shared offices offer a range of formal and informal areas within the space, allowing workers to interact and collaborate in a variety of ways and settings. Mixing up your working day and mingling with colleagues from a variety of backgrounds and areas of expertise offer fresh perspectives, ideas and motivations for your own work.

Facilities and convenience

Coworking spaces are a relatively new, innovative and intuitive feature of the working landscape. As the market expands, facilities being offered improve and diversify, and membership of a coworking space can mean access to such amenities as games rooms, relaxation areas, gyms, sleeping pods, cafes and bars. Surveys show that one of the main sources of worker happiness is the working environment, so with the increasing popularity of coworking spaces, you can expect competition to keep driving the standard of available facilities up. Many shared offices are part of larger chains, which increases the likelihood of finding a friendly, familiar, welcoming place to work if you are traveling to another city. Membership usually means you can show up, plug in, sit down and get to work straight away – keeping productivity and quality of work high, even on the move.

Contacts and networking

Shared office space also means access to the knowledge and abilities of your fellow co-workers. We’ve already touched on the subject of collaboration, but many shared spaces offer this in a more direct way, encouraging workshops, seminars and presentations on a variety of topics and with a whole host of presenters. Likewise, bonding over breakfast, lunch or coffee in a coworking space can mean more than just friendly socializing (although that’s great too), it can boost motivation, encourage engagement and create a team environment. Studies suggest that there is no better route to worker happiness than forming friendships at work.

The market for coworking spaces is expanding, with more and more workers turning to it as a flexible, cost-effective solution. As we’ve seen, there are numerous benefits to be found in a shared office space without the financial anchor of a leased office. The modern working landscape thrives on innovation, collaboration and out-of-the-box thinking, and coworking spaces provide this in a unique way—as well as creating a buzzing, energetic and positive working environment for all kinds of professionals.

Image credit: Photo courtesy of Eloise Ambursley.

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