Co-working, the concept is that of a shared office space where a freelancer or a small business owner can hold office without having to pay the large overhead costs of renting a traditional office space, but still having a professional workspace that can provide a physical address for business mail, a phone, steady Internet connection, and coffee.
In the past decade the rise of the co-working space, which started in Germany, has become evident in many industries and business circles. What started as a temporary office space where freelancers or small businesses could work in a relaxed office environment has become a work philosophy. Now, not only do people and startups choose co-working, rather, they prefer it. Here is why:
1) It promotes collaboration
Every co-working space has a specific vibe or environment that the community develops as the community grows. Since the culture develops organically, those who work there often feel relaxed and happy to come to work. The layout of many of the best co-working spaces also reflects this attitude, often with an open floor plan where everyone can see who is in and who might be free for a chat. In this kind of workplace, ideas come naturally, meetings can be done by the kitchen or over a beer in the lounge, and workers help each other spontaneously. This further promotes the sense of community that traditional offices have a difficult time providing due to cubicles that block people out and a lack of space for spending time with a colleague.
2) Flexible hours
What many traditional businesses cannot offer their employees is the ability to take charge of their own time. Stuck in a nine-to-five cycle, most people understand that they are being paid for their hours and not the work done. A shared office space changes that. The hours are friendly–some spaces are open 24 hours a day–and they provide a flexibility that allows people to choose and define their own work-life balance. No more stressing out about running an important errand at lunch hour!
3) Avenues for learning
Many of the best co-working spaces offer their members weekly events and workshops that provide them with professional growth and development. Sometimes a professional hired by the space comes in, and other times it’s one of the co-workers themselves giving a seminar or crash course in their expertise. The variety in lessons and activities, and the openness of the workshops appeal to many freelancers and small business owners because it provides them with avenues to learn a new skill or meet someone with a skillset they might need.
4) More meaning
As trite as this sounds, many co-workers feel they have more meaning in their lives. This could be because they are choosing their projects, and so are naturally working on the type of projects they love and will give their life purpose and meaning, but it could also be because of all the other factors that make them feel like the work they do is truly valued by the people who receive it.
5) Helps companies stay lean
Ever since Eric Ries wrote The Lean Startup, it has not only become a way of life for many small businesses and startups, but many corporations have taken on its principles as well. Businesses who adopt these ideas also benefit from switching to a co-working space or promoting a co-work environment in their office, understanding that overhead goes down with less space and happier employees.
Co-working or having a temporary work space ties in with the shared economy, a concept that millenials completely embody. From shared housing (AirBNB), shared bicycles and cars (Uber, GrabCar, ZipCar) to a shared workspace, the ideas and practices behind co-working fit in with the growing workforce and the new wave of entrepreneurs. Knowing that this is now becoming the norm, some more traditional businesses have benefitted from switching to a co-work environment, whether it be more flexible hours, a four day work-week, a five hour work day, and more.