Coworking spaces are at the forefront of a new way of working, capturing the imagination of businesses across the world and inspiring a move away from traditional fixed rental office properties. Projections estimate that there will be around 20,000 dedicated coworking spaces worldwide by the end of 2020, and the sector is expected to continue to grow at a rate of 20% a year into 2021 and beyond.
Wondering what the reason for this extreme growth is? It’s fairly simple – the benefits of coworking spaces for both businesses and coworking operators are too great to ignore. From cost-saving to ensuring employee wellbeing, prioritising flexibility to creating chances for collaboration, coworking spaces offer advantages that a traditional fixed office space can’t match.
Knowing, in detail, what the benefits of coworking spaces are is essential as someone on the business-side of the sector as you’ll have to pull from these benefits when you’re designing and marketing your service. So, whether you’re a business owner considering adopting coworking spaces as the norm post-COVID-19 or a traditional office space operator thinking about transforming your property to meet new demand from occupiers, these are the main benefits of coworking spaces that you need to know about.
One of the most obvious benefits of using a coworking space over a traditional centralised office is that employees get more control over their way of working. Especially after being forced to work from home for months during the COVID-19 lockdown period, some employees might find that their home environment helps them get more work done.
Flexible office spaces are great because they give employers the chance to offer their employees the best of both worlds. If they feel like they’ll be more productive at home, employees are under no obligation to turn up to the office. However, if they need a change of scenery for a productivity boost or have to be around colleagues for collaboration purposes, they can travel into the coworking space.
Unlike with a regular fixed office space, where employees are expected to turn up every day to get their work done, choosing a flexible office means that employees can choose the way of working that suits them.
The flexibility benefits of coworking spaces also come with financial benefits, as the way you pay for the space changes from a fixed model to a variable one. Instead of paying a flat rate for a conventional private office that might have more space than you need every day, choosing a coworking space means that you only pay for what you need, and only ever when you need it.
Eliminating the idea of sunk costs in the office space means that there’s no waste when employees don’t turn up to the office, if they feel they’ll be more productive at home. That frees up employers to allow working from home on a much more relaxed basis, as they’re not losing out by not taking full advantage of the space they’re paying for.
Coworking spaces come with other cost-efficiency benefits, too. Most notable among them is the saving you can make in secondary costs related to having a private office space, like paying for amenities, cleaners, internet, utilities, and insurance. These are all costs that are rarely bundled into the price of a regular office space but come included in most coworking office space costs.
Coworking spaces attract lots of diverse businesses and freelancers, by their very nature. That means they present users with the chance to casually meet with other businesses in a professional setting, which is in direct contrast to the closed-off nature of a private office.
The kinds of casual meetings that coworking spaces facilitate might only function as friendly introductions, but they can lead to longer-term relationships or even direct business opportunities. This is a value-add coworking spaces offer that isn’t talked about often but is important to consider.
Lots of coworking spaces also run dedicated networking sessions or socials, where you can really get to know the businesses you’re working alongside and discover how you can help each other.
Wellness and work-life balance
Employee wellness and work-life balance are both trends that are gaining momentum in the commercial world, with schemes like unlimited holiday, flexible working hours, and employee assistance programmes all being championed by leading businesses around the world.
While a lot of the benefits that employers offer employees to boost their wellness are active, having been chosen deliberately by the employer, coworking spaces can offer employee wellness benefits in a more passive sense. Whether it’s a partnership with local gyms or leisure centres, the provision of community yoga sessions, or even just having showering facilities on-site, there are plenty of ways that coworking spaces can help to improve the wellbeing of their customers.
These benefits can, in turn, have positive impacts on employee satisfaction, happiness, productivity, and retention, so they benefit the employer, too.
A traditional office is very much a one-size-fits-all approach to housing employees, and if some of them aren’t motivated by a conventional office environment, their productivity will suffer. Coworking spaces alleviate some of those issues by being optimised for productivity and providing a range of working environments that cater for varying working styles.
Whether you prefer being in a social setting to work or would rather get peace and quiet in a more private area, it’s likely that you’ll find a space that suits you in a coworking office. These settings usually combine communal hot-desk areas for when you’re feeling social and more private work-spots for when you need to get your head down.
Coworking spaces also offer productivity benefits over working from home if you believe in the ideas behind equity theory. This theory suggests that your effort levels and productivity in a work setting are influenced by how hard the people around you are working. Working from home removes any sense of how hard your colleagues are working, beyond the superficial, whereas coworking spaces are a hub of very visual productivity.
It only takes a single Google search to find hundreds of articles about how to combat the loneliness of working from home – proof in and of itself that loneliness from homeworking is a very real problem.
Just as a traditional office would, coworking spaces help to combat that loneliness by providing a social setting where no-one works in true isolation. A water-cooler or kitchen-counter conversation with a colleague or fellow coworking space user is only ever a short walk away, meaning if you need a break from your desk, there’s somewhere to go for a chat.
No long lease
One of the greatest benefits of utilising coworking spaces, especially in uncertain times like those that we find ourselves in now, is the ability to avoid being locked into a binding long-term lease or contract for your office. By using a coworking space, you leave yourself completely free to move to a new office, decrease the amount of days you use the space, or switch entirely to homeworking whenever you want.
This is the opposite of what you get with a traditional office, where you might find yourself locked into a five-year lease with a pricey break clause. The lack of flexibility that leases on private offices offer is limiting even in normal circumstances, but it’s particularly damaging when a second COVID-19 lockdown situation is still potentially on the horizon.
If you travel a lot for work, you’re probably used to using coffee shops as temporary bases in new cities and towns. Although they do work as an ‘in-a-pinch’ solution, you probably also know that they’re not the best places for encouraging productivity.
A conventional office space can’t travel with you, which is why you might find yourself in coffee shops more often than you’d like to be, but if you use flexible office spaces, you’ll never be far from a space that you can use as your base for the day. Some coworking operators even offer national or global passes that allow you to use their facilities wherever you go.
This is going to be an increasingly important benefit as the coworking sector continues to grow and spaces open in more and more accessible locations.
Chances for collaboration
We’ve already mentioned the networking-building benefits that coworking spaces offer through exposure to other businesses and individuals that use the communal space, but they also provide direct collaboration opportunities.
By working in the same space as tens of other businesses, freelancers, and professionals, you open yourself up to the possibility of valuable collaboration with experts in fields you know nothing about. That might mean that you can trade services for mutual benefit, get pro bono help from a new friend, or simply ask a fellow hot-desker for advice.
There’s a community aspect to coworking spaces that makes collaboration like this open and accessible in a way it’s arguably never been before.
The final benefit of coworking spaces for employees is that they’re literally designed to encourage creativity, productivity, and effective working habits.
It often seems like office design in conventional private offices hasn’t changed a huge amount in recent decades, and certainly not enough to match the changes that have occurred in the way we work. Coworking spaces, on the other hand, being relatively modern as a concept, are generally designed to incorporate all of the modern features needed to make your time in work more valuable.
From conference caves to breakout areas, recreational zones to on-site bars, most coworking spaces will include some areas where you can unwind, relax, and recharge your creativity.