Published 14 June 2017 Category: Workplace

Autonomy in Serviced Office Spaces

What makes serviced office spaces – defined as membership-based workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal setting – so effective? And are there lessons for more traditional offices? Here are two humanistic reasons how they differ from a traditional office setting, a coffe shop or home setting and even a conventional coworking space.

First, unlike a traditional office, serviced office spaces consist of members who work for a range of different companies, ventures, and projects. Because there is little direct competition or internal politics, they don’t feel they have to put on a work persona to fit in. Working amidst people doing different kinds of work can also make one’s own work identity stronger. Secondly, people in serviced office-coworking spaces also find ‘meaning’ from working in a culture that aspires to including community, collaboration, learning and sustainability.

They have more job control
People have a lot more choices when it comes to working in a serviced office setting. They can decide whether to put in a long day when they have a deadline or want to show progress, or can decide to take a long break in the middle of the day to attend to other aspects outside of work. They can choose whether they want to work in a quiet space so they can focus (think serviced offices – mature and more productive), or in a more collaborative space where interaction is encouraged.

And while coworkers value this autonomy, they equally value some form of structure in their professional lives. Too much autonomy can actually cripple productivity because people lack routines. Coworkers having a community to work in helps them create structures and discipline that motivates them. Thus, paradoxically, some limited form of structure enables an optimal degree of control for the more thoughtful worker.

They feel part of a community
Connections with others are a big reason why people pay to work in a serviced office space, as opposed to working from home for free or from a coffee shop (and there are risks here). Importantly, however, socializing isn’t compulsory or forced. Businesses can choose when and how to interact with others. They are more likely to enjoy discussions over coffee, and when they want to be left alone elsewhere in the building, they are.

So what are the implications for traditional companies? Even though the coworking movement has its origins among freelancers, entrepreneurs, and the tech industry, it’s increasingly relevant for a broader range of people and organisations.

In reality, people need to be able to craft their work in ways that give them purpose and meaning and autonomy in serviced office spaces give them control and flexibility in their work environments with productive results.