Thanks to our recent situation with COVID-19, many people are forced to work from home, some, forced to quit work altogether. The ones who were given the opportunity to work from home are faced with multiple challenges such as, watching their kids while they work, working in their kitchen due to the lack of an extra room to turn into an office, or dealing with their roommates, who are also working from home and trying any way to tune out their Zoom calls while you write up a huge report. The list could literally go on.
What about those who have lost their jobs? They are faced with a couple of choices such as starting their own business, doing contract work that requires meetings with new clients, and even going back to school, but virtually.
Regardless of where they fell, they have many obstacles to overcome if they stay at home. Insert coworking.
What is a Coworking Space?
We are privy to the fact that people may not even know what a coworking space is, so let’s break it down.
Coworking spaces are where workers of different companies share an office space, allowing them to save money and have convenient use of common tools, such as office supplies, utilities, potential collaboration, and in some cases refreshments and mail acceptance services.
Up until about 5 years ago, Coworking spaces were run out of coffee shops, extra rooms in libraries, and other spaces that they could turn into a workspace for the short term. Now they have become intentional and are making a major contribution to help out companies in need of a more long term solution.
They are outfitted with super-fast wifi speeds, fun design choices that make you feel like you are in Silicone Valley, free beverages, private or common workspaces depending on your preferred way to work, and the opportunity to collaborate with likeminded people that can turn into friendships, mentors, or business partners.
Employees are Missing Structure
This is no small detail and so many remote workers crave it! Our home is a place of feeling comfortable where clothing is an option and Netflix is just a few clicks away.
Structure and routine are the building blocks to being and staying productive, which is music to any employer’s ears.
Coworking spaces are normally accessible 24/7. People can decide whether to put in a long day when they have a deadline or can decide to take a long break in the middle of the day to go to the gym. They can choose whether they want to work in a quiet space so they can focus, or in a more collaborative space with shared tables where interaction is encouraged. They can even decide to work from home, without repercussion, if they need to meet a repairperson or deal with a family member who’s in need.
The bottom line, you are more in control of your workday and that’s the kind of work-life balance we all need. Let’s also not forget to mention that any excuse to get out of your house these days is crucial to our mental health. Coworking spaces work very hard to keep everything sanitized and stations socially distanced, so you won’t have to worry about staying safe.
Some Common Myths About Coworking Spaces
Myth: They are only for startups and entrepreneurs.
Truth: While they make excellent options for companies looking for a cost-effective way to run their business with no commitment, coworking spaces are for everyone. Could you imagine discussing sensitive information in a coffee shop where anyone can hear you? Maybe you have the opportunity to work with your dream client on a career-changing project, now you have the chance to wow them in a professional setting. Stay at home parent? Some coworking spaces offer learning pods for kids or perhaps you can allow a couple of hours of serious work while a family member takes over. If you are distracted by your kids playing or the daunting chores, you are less likely to keep focused and perform your best.
Myth: Coworking spaces are only for people who like socializing and can be a part of a community.
Truth: A lot of coworking spaces offer the choice of working in a communal space or a private office.
Myth: My company has an office so I don’t need a coworking space.
Truth: Co-working spaces appeal to professionals in more traditional offices who enjoy a change of scenery. In fact, a lot of companies offer discounts for coworking spaces if you choose, or go out of town.
Co-working spaces can also help businesses through difficult transitions in staffing, location, and renovations. Companies use co-working spaces to host business meetings with visiting partners. They can also provide a workspace solution for short-term employees and contractors or vendors who need a place to work when in town.
Myth: If I commit to a coworking space, I have to go in 5 days a week.
Truth: Thankfully this is up to you but we commonly have people who come in a couple of days a week for a change of scenery or a couple of hours a day during the workweek to host meetings and get work done.
Perks of Having Community in the Workplace
Connections with others are a big reason why people pay to work in a coworking space, compared to working from home for free. Each coworking space has its own vibe, and the managers of each space go to great lengths to cultivate a unique experience that meets the needs of their respective members.
At MESH Cowork in Bakersfield, CA, Tabari Brannon, one of the co-founders, makes sure to know everyone by name and make their stay as comfortable and meaningful as possible. With so many options available for workspace, it’s important to create that sense of belonging and friendship with all of your members.
Let’s look at it from a different perspective. Say you’re an entrepreneur, parent, startup company, etc- being able to swap ideas or simply vent about your struggles or accomplishments can be so helpful for some.
Socializing isn’t mandatory or forced. Members can choose when and how to interact with others. They are more likely to enjoy conversations over coffee in the café because they went there for that purpose and when they want to be left alone elsewhere in the building, they are. And while the research found that some people interact with fellow coworkers much less than others, they still felt a strong sense of identity with the community. We believe this comes from coworkers knowing there is the potential for interactions when they want or need them.
Why People are Thriving in Coworking Spaces
Companies know that culture is becoming more and more important at work and also giving your employees flexibility for more work-life balance.
Michael Kenny, the Managing Partner of San Diego-based Co-Merge, stated
“In the past few years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the use of the space by enterprise employees. We have seen teams come in to use various on-demand meeting rooms. Users from global companies are using utilizing coworking space not only to allow their distributed workers to get productive work done but also to attract employees who demand flexible workplace and work time.”
Spending time away from the office at a coworking space can also spark new ideas.
Going to the same office day after day can start to wear on someone and studies have shown that employees become more productive in new spaces, even if it’s for 1-2 days a week.
Why Coworking Spaces Aren’t Leaving Any Time Soon
Here are a few reasons why coworking spaces are here to stay.
1. They Save Money
Getting locked into long-term leases in a permanent office space can be a huge financial expense for businesses. With coworking spaces 331 percent cheaper than permanent office space, the cost is a driving force behind the dramatic growth.
2. Coworking Spaces are Flexible
Signing a lease for one location with a long-term commitment can deter business growth. In some cases, it doesn’t make sense for a business or freelancer to work from the same location every day. Customer meetings are hosted in different locations, while others may not have a permanent home base and work from different cities—New York one week, California the next week. Instead, with tens of thousands of office locations around the globe, coworking spaces provide the flexibility these businesses need.
In addition, users of coworking spaces only pay for the space they need and use; those with permanent offices pay for the entire space. And when the full capacity of the office space is reached, further expansion of the workforce becomes a real problem.
3. Recruiting and Retaining Workers is Streamlined
Workspace flexibility is something that employees increasingly cite as a critical factor they consider before accepting a job. They want the ability to work remotely and from locations that shorten their commutes. More and more people are finding it more relaxing to work from home or someplace near home to lessen their environmental footprint. This makes it easier to recruit and retain top-quality workers—something that is particularly difficult during a pandemic.
4. Business Opportunities Galore
Coworking spaces are full of potential customers and partners. The relationships coworking space users form offer everything from new revenue possibilities to collaboration.
5. They Offer Professional Addresses
Coworking spaces typically come with virtual office addresses. With first impressions playing an important role, having access to a secure professional address in locations that are the envy of other small businesses, is huge.
6. Meeting Rooms are Key
Meeting rooms in permanent offices often aren’t big enough or have that professional feel. Meeting rooms, which are included in a coworking space, can be used for employee meetings or with partners. Rented meeting rooms also come with the presentation and communications tools needed for a successful business transaction.
Coworking spaces truly are revolutionary when it comes to creating a space where people can thrive and create meaningful work. We here at MESH Cowork go out of our way to make sure everyone is comfortable and all of their coworking needs are met.
We’re curious if this got you thinking of joining one, let us know in the comments below!