Published 08 September 2017 Category: Business Insights, Entrepreneurs, Workplace

Co-working: Form Or Function?

Millennials have begun reimagining the workplace to better fit their needs. One way this generation is bucking tradition is by co-working, a relatively recent phenomenon that allows freelancers and entrepreneurs to enjoy the benefits of working in a fully-stocked group office, without surrendering the benefits of being an independent worker.

It’s a wonderful, mutualistic relationship at first glance: co-working startups are finding success by offering their communities a fun, affordable, and collaborative space to work (and usually, a host of incredible amenities).
But there’s a problem brewing just under the surface of the co-working world, and it has to do with productivity and long-term sustainability.

At their best, these spaces are alive with synergy and the collaboration of strangers who become colleagues. At their worst, co-working spaces can be well-meaning but distracting productivity killers. Countless perks (hello, bocce ball court), interesting people, and the constant bustle of creative minds at work can make it tough to stay on-task.

The New Workspace or The Latest Hangout?
These are exactly the kinds of problems that are having critics asking if co-working spaces are becoming more of a hangout destination than a space to actually get things done.

First, it’s important to consider that all spaces are not equal. While some are known for primarily catering to executives, others focus on creative individuals offering their services on a freelance basis, or on founders building companies. Compass Offices is an amalgamation of both, preferring to offer co-working, virtual, serviced office spaces and meeting rooms to people across the board.

Amenities, Productivity, or Both?
If a freelancer finds a great co-working space with amazing amenities and a great group of people, it’s love at first sight. But look further down the road: if little distractions prevent this person from doing their best work each day, they’ll notice the drop in productivity and could become discouraged.

A lot of co-working spaces focus on the thrill of amenities. But when it comes down to it, work still needs to be completed. It’s true that established companies like WeWork have forecasted growing, continued interest in co-working (and resulting boosts in their own profits), but not everyone is equally optimistic. Without a renewed focus on client productivity and the work part of co-working, amenity-centered spaces face an uncertain future.

Differences aside, all co-working spaces are filled with customers who have tasks that need to be completed. So how do these distinctly different spaces ensure their customers a distraction-free, productivity-geared environment? Many don’t, and if that doesn’t change, the long-term sustainability of the co-working industry could be bleak.