With the likes of big cities becoming more expensive to set up and maintain the cost of business premises and the rise of the gig economy, entrepreneurs and business owners are having to find different ways of establishing a permanent, or semi-permanent, home.
One such widely utilized and successful method of doing this, which has exploded in popularity over the last couple of years, is ‘coworking.’ In 2017, there were over 542,000 people in coworking spaces in the United States, and this is forecasted to increase to 1.08MM in 2022, according to Emergent Research.
What is coworking?
An abbreviation of ‘communal working,’ coworking – or, put in plain terms, the sharing of workspace between unconnected companies – can provide a host of benefits for a range of different types of business.
Why coworking spaces work
- Facility cost – Coworking is an attractive alternative to purchasing office space or rent a business space in a major city. For example, because of New York’s huge property costs (a 600 sq ft space in New York could set you back $53,000 for a year), coworking opportunities are booming and competition is becoming rife. Coworking facility providers, such as Cornerstone Office Search, have seen a huge increase in demand over the past couple of years, with the majority of business coming from SMEs, who would rather focus their time and bulk of their expenditure on building their companies, rather than having to worry about running it.
- Shared amenities – In addition to lower cost than business renal space, coworking professionals share the costs of the likes of WiFi, service charges, and sometimes even refreshments, doubling up on an office with other companies will certainly help keep the overheads down.
- Flexibility – Moving into a space that has been specifically designed for these types of businesses allows new entrepreneurs the freedom of not having to establish and maintain a traditional office space, or face the challenges of a lack of flexibility with leases or termination charges. Options can range from taking up just one desk on a daily, or even hourly, rate if required, a fixed desk, private office space, or even a work/live space, where the rents of an office and an adjoining flat are combined, whilst also offering the delight of no commuting costs.
- Business networking – This access to different people may harbor opportunities for business partnerships or help which can result in a potential new client.
- Image-boosting – Coworking can really change the image of a company. As mentioned, small businesses may struggle to afford permanent office spaces, but being able to move away from using a home address as a business address will certainly show more professionalism when conducting business. Even if you aren’t using your co-working space permanently, using that address will mean customers are none the wiser.
On top of that, in the eyes of millennials, working out of a lively and communicative shared office can be the deal-breaker when looking for a job. It’s been suggested that most younger professionals list workplace quality as a key factor when job-searching, even claiming they’d trade other benefits if it meant working within a better environment. Moving away from the linear ways of working’s past may be just the ticket to attracting a wave of young and enthusiastic applicants.
Is coworking worth it?
Perhaps one surprising benefit of co-working, however, is that of feeling less lonely. This ‘loneliness’ is said to be attributing to the world’s growing ‘loneliness epidemic’, which has poor implications on one’s health.
By 2020, 40% of the workforce will be freelancers, temps, independent contractors and solopreneurs, and for many of these people, they can miss out on the human interaction and social aspects provided from being in an office. Coworking members report much higher levels of ‘thriving’ than traditional employees, with the community, socialization and interaction with new people offering a chance for new rapports. This socialization has even been shown to boost employee’s productivity and creativity.
Research from Hubble has shown that levels of thriving in co-working spaces are much higher on average than those found from employees who work in regular offices; results that are perhaps a little unexpected.
Not only is this potential productivity boost a positive, depending on who you move in with, you are opening doors that could lead to beneficial networking. Stumble across a company in the same market or sector and they may be able to help with creative cooperation and ideas, and the potential for encounters with companies that can help with business growth.