One of the most significant social changes to arise from the Covid crisis is the way we work. In fact, let’s not call it a change—it’s a revolution.
Apart from a long-time-coming move towards more flexible hours and remote working—twenty years from now, people will think it was absurd that, given our online connectivity, we spent five days a week in an office with other people—many residents of the post-Covid universe will also be asking, “Instead of working in a big office space with other people (and, if you’re the business owner, paying a hefty rent for a building that’s often no more than a quarter full), why don’t I simply rent a space just for myself?”
All hail the co-working space—somewhere for the business owner, entrepreneur or start-up whizz to go to escape the distractions of colleagues and/or working from home, and Get Stuff Done. You have a desk, Wi-Fi and coffee—what more do you need?
Apart from the increased focus and productivity that inevitably comes from having your own space, there are several benefits to a co-working environment. These benefits are so profound that in 2015 the Harvard Business Review (HBR) surveyed several hundred people who regularly use co-working spaces and concluded there are three “substantial predictors” that suggest co-working can not only make your more productive, it can make you thrive.
1. You see your work as more meaningful
Part of what drives any successful person is the excitement of starting something new or seeking novel ways to solve problems. However, once that problem has been solved or that new venture has been established and things have settled a bit, the daily routine of commute-office-work-meeting-lunch-work-meeting-commute can put you in a rut. You can lose inspiration and motivation. On the bad days, it may even lead you to question what you’re doing.
A co-working space removes you from that routine by placing you in a different environment with people from other industries. This can not only inspire you to find a new mission or refresh your original one, it’ll also expose you to different ways of thinking.
According to the HRB, “Aside from the type of work they’re doing—freelancers choosing projects they care about, for example—the people we surveyed reported finding meaning in the fact that they could bring their whole selves to work …
“… unlike a traditional office, co-working 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 …
“… meaning may also come from working in a culture where it is the norm to help each other out, and there are many opportunities to do so; the variety of workers in the space means that coworkers have unique skill sets that they can provide to other community members.”
2. You have more control over how you work
Yes, working from home is great, but it can be full of distractions. Whether it’s your partner needing a favour, your children begging for play or simply the allure of a deck chair and a cold drink on a summer’s day, it’s very likely that your attempts to work from home will at some point be thwarted.
A co-working space is somewhere to go to when you simply can’t focus. This is especially true if the space offers 24/7 access. Feel the need to dash to a quiet workplace at 8.43pm on a Wednesday? Or maybe it’s the weekend but you’ve got some pressing matter to attend to but the house is chaotic—all you need do is get in your car (or, if it’s close enough, walk or cycle) and you’re soon in an environment free of noise and distraction.
And not only that, according to the HRB…
“While co-workers value this autonomy, we also learned that they equally value some form of structure in their professional lives,” it said. “Too much autonomy can actually cripple productivity because people lack routines. Co-workers reported that 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 independent workers.”
3. You feel part of a community
We all know it’s lonely at the top. Whether you’re a burgeoning entrepreneur who’s risked it all to go after your dream, or an established business leader in need of some respite, a co-working space can become a place to interact and connect with people who can relate to your journey or simply exchange thoughts and ideas with, free from the prying ears and gossip of a large office.
And even if you’re an introvert who simply wants to come in, do their work, and leave, a good co-working space will have its own vibe, it’s own culture, and there will be no pressure to take part in anything, and no judgement should you wish to keep to yourself. However, should you be in need of guidance or, as mentioned, someone ‘anonymous’ to talk to, a co-working space offers an opportunity for these sorts of interactions, whatever you’re personality and favoured way of working.
So concluded the HRB: “Socialising [in a co-working space] isn’t compulsory or forced. Members can choose when and how to interact with others. They are more likely to enjoy discussions over coffee in the café because they went to the café for that purpose—and when they want to be left alone elsewhere in the building, they are.
“And while our research found that some people interact with fellow co-workers much less than others, they still felt a strong sense of identity with the community. We believe this comes from co-workers knowing there is the potential for interactions when they desire or need them.”
- Evolve is opening a co-working hub in its premises in Ashley Cross. We are very excited about sharing this beautiful space and hope to inspire and evoke that community spirit by bringing like-minded people together. Click here to found out more.