Published 19 October 2017 Category: Business Insights, Workplace, Entrepreneur, Startups

The Evolution of Co-working

The first image that typically comes to mind when thinking about a co-working space, is an open plan office space filled with energetic young entrepreneurs working, brainstorming or playing ping pong. However, co-working is much more than this generalized image. Co-working enables people from different educational and career backgrounds to come together and share thoughts and ideas.

Co-working started as a community of freelancers who typically worked from home but wanted to meet other like-minded individuals to feel less isolated. Eventually this idea picked up and it became the way they worked; freelancers would rent a space to work alongside one another.

Over the years, the concept has evolved to be more than a place where young entrepreneurs gather and share ideas. Co-working helps foster a sense of community among its members, giving way to collaborative opportunities and better networking. But always working in open-office layouts can cause teams to have lower productivity and satisfaction. As a result, co-working has now become synonymous with flexible office spaces, providing both collaborative areas and closed office layouts.
 

Communities, Networks and Collaboration Opportunities

Co-working spaces, first and foremost, make it easy to for you to interact with those around you, and encouraging you to get to know more people. Working alongside one another for a period of time can help groups of people bond over their shared working schedules, and often, the work they do.
As time goes on, the group may form their own network. Each member then benefits from the sharing of insights and advice, and in some cases, some businesses can gain new contacts, generate new leads, and meet new suppliers. With the right networking tactics, businesses in co-working spaces may attain new clients as a result of their co-working network.

In addition, co-working helps cultivate meaningful collaboration opportunities, allowing people from very different backgrounds to come together and work on something they are passionate about. Quite a few startups were born in a co-working space, including Instagram and Timehop, solidifying the power of getting like-minded individuals together.
 

Changing the Way Corporations Work

With the benefits of co-working firmly established, over the recent years, multinational corporations jumped on the flexible workspace bandwagon. The option for short-term commitments was seen as an imperative way to stay agile in an unpredictable economic environment. Over and above this, collaborative workspaces were found to be especially valuable to foster company culture, which generated tangible benefits such as higher employee satisfaction and better staff retention.

As such, co-working spaces have evolved from being external spaces outside of a company, to collaborative setups within the organization’s physical space. However, since several studies found that open layouts have hindered work performance and employee satisfaction, organizations have moved onto a different model – combining co-working and traditional closed office layout.

Large companies have redesigned their spaces for this, providing private workspaces, open plan offices and communal lounges. This enables them to cater to people who have different working styles and a myriad of different working needs, encouraging everyone in the company to work in the way that works for them, which has been proven to increase productivity, improve employee satisfaction and boost retention.
 

Adoption by SMEs

While large organizations have the benefit of space and resources to conduct office redesigns, SMEs don’t. As such, startups and medium-sized organizations have had to look elsewhere to reap the benefits of co-working, towards co-working space providers.

Serviced office space providers like Compass Offices typically have several co-working spaces in addition to private offices and meeting spaces that can foster the ideal environment for collaboration and networking within the team. And with flexible rental options, businesses can choose the right space for the time they need it, helping them stay nimble.

Overall, the shift from traditional offices towards flexible workspaces including co-working can bring more benefits to a company and its team. And every company should take the steps to incorporate co-working and flexible workspaces in the way they work.