Working amongst other businesses and like-minded professionals in a shared workspace, has been steadily growing in popularity with the rise of the millennial generation and their quest for more flexible and collaborative working options. But coworking workspaces are no longer solely reserved for startups or freelance workers; businesses of all shapes and sizes have quickly realised their advantages.
Shared workspaces initially attracted remote workers, freelancers and startups, largely because they offer a collaborative place where professionals can network and share ideas, whilst feeling part of a community. However, these benefits are no longer exclusive to these types of businesses and coworking spaces are now utilised by a diverse range of businesses, of all shapes and sizes. Companies who are making use of shared workspaces are also finding huge strategic benefits for their growing enterprises, including cost-saving and new business opportunities.
If you’re teetering on the edge of a shared workspace but are still not sure about the benefits they can provide, we’ve put together some of the key advantages of coworking.
For employers, finding and retaining top talent is vital for success and shared workspaces can be appealing to prospective employees for a number of reasons. Firstly, shared workspaces provide employers with an opportunity to establish a flexible working culture. Since many office centres are open 24/7, employees can work from the office at a time that suits them. This supports a healthy work-life balance which is great for productivity and retention, as well as attracting new workers.
According to a study carried out by Recruitment International, a third of UK workers would prefer flexible working over a pay rise, and 70% of millennials want flexible working options to be included in any jobs they apply for. These statistics are hard to ignore and employers seeking to recruit the best talent should ensure they have a flexible working culture in place.
Remote workers and freelancers can also benefit from the flexible working culture that shared offices can provide, by having the freedom to choose their own hours and work from a convenient location.
Secondly, the fun atmosphere and creative culture found within a shared office space, which is largely due to the vibrant mixture of people and businesses working closely together, is high on the agenda for potential recruits. A British Land survey found that being in a location that had a ‘buzz’ around it was high on the wish list for 90% of millennials and 82% of Generation X, thus highlighting the importance of choosing the ideal co-working space for your organisation. By providing workers with an attractive work environment, they are also more likely to be committed to the company and stay longer which also helps to decrease hiring costs.
Perhaps one of the main benefits to business owners is the financial savings that can be made with a shared workspace. With traditional owned premises, organisations have to pay for everything separately; from rent and utility bills to office equipment and kitchen essentials.
Shared workspaces are usually available to rent through flexible packages that combine all the costs associated with running your business. This makes the solution much more convenient and cost-efficient. Many serviced offices also provide amenities and kitchen facilities such as tea, coffee and snacks for free, saving employers the hassle of going out and buying these separately. Some spaces even provide extra benefits such as free meeting room use in several different locations.
However, it’s not just the overheads where money can be saved. With many coworking space packages being adaptable, businesses can ensure they are only paying for what they need; whether that be occasionally using hot desks on a pay-as-you-go basis or utilising a more permanent and private office space where buying a full-time membership might be more cost efficient.
Shared office space also gives businesses the opportunity to easily scale up or down, dependant on their growth. For example, a startup might begin by employing five staff members, but due to rapid growth, they need to quickly increase their staff base. By operating from a shared workspace the business can simply amend their agreement and rent more desks, without needing to move to larger premises.
Networking and Business Opportunities
Networking is a big part of modern business, and by operating from a shared office space, workers have ample opportunities for meeting new people. Building and fostering relationships can be advantageous for a number of reasons; from gaining a new opinion on a project, to starting conversations that can lead to new business and strengthen connections. By nurturing these connections, coworkers can also experience the comradery and close working with others that they may not ordinarily be accustomed to, particularly if they are freelance.
Many coworking spaces also organise guest speakers and regular networking events where professionals can gather to learn more about each other’s business, develop new skills or simply build new connections and friendships.
The perks of networking can be enjoyed by any type of business; whether you’re a freelancer just starting out and looking to build your client base, or if you’re a small-medium enterprise looking to expand your company into a new market. With shared office space, you never know who you might bump into in the kitchen!
Collaboration brings creativity, and having the freedom to join forces with people from different backgrounds or with alternative skill sets can be hugely beneficial for inspiring ideas and problem-solving.
With several different businesses under one roof, helping others and nurturing innovation has become the new normal. Being able to lean on others for support is particularly beneficial for remote or freelance workers. When working alone, it’s hard to bounce ideas around and sometimes projects will stall if just one person is working on it; but with shared office space, remote employees have a strong support system of peers willing to help and advise where needed. Lending a helping hand can give people the quick boost of creativity needed to get their project off the ground, therefore improving both productivity and innovation.
A Happier Workforce
Employee wellbeing is essential to business operations and the collaborative atmosphere, coupled with the open-plan layout often found in a shared office space, can have a real positive effect on an employee’s health and wellbeing. A study by Bupa found that workers in open-plan environments tend to be 32% more physically active than those working in private offices, therefore showing a strong correlation between shared workspace and improved wellbeing.
With coworking solutions becoming more popular, and a greater emphasis being placed on looking after our mental health, shared workspaces are no longer just offices. Some centres now provide fitness classes, wellness rooms, coffee shops and yoga; making networking a much more natural occurrence – whether it’s chatting to someone in a communal break-out space or meeting new people at a yoga class.
With shared offices providing a number of benefits that aren’t always found in traditional office premises, they go some way in ensuring happy staff are at the heart of a business; from communal spaces that inspire conversation and social stimulation to open-plan light spaces that provide a positive effect on brain function and increased productivity.