Good things come to those who collaborate. Which is why businesses are breaking out of their partitioned cubicles or their cavernous, open-plan workspaces. They're turning instead to the collaborative coworking space.
Not up on the lingo? A coworking space is a membership-based space where employees, freelancers, creatives, remote workers and others come together to work, bounce ideas and share expertise. The idea is to get people away from their desks and shake things up with a new environment, new collaborators and new ways of thinking.
Sounds great, doesn't it? But it's not just some idealistic vision. Coworking spaces work. According to the HBR, users thrive in coworking spaces. Far more so than in a standard office environment.
A Little More Talk and a Lot More Action
Coworking spaces aren't just for startups. Big hitters like HSBC, Microsoft, GE, SalesForce and Dell all use them. So why are coworking spaces the holy grail of enterprise productivity?
A few reasons. First, coworking spaces provide an environment for people of different backgrounds and skillsets to come together to work on projects they care about. There's dialog, discourse and sharing of information and expertise. The result? Work becomes meaningful.
Second, coworking spaces give you flexibility and freedom. They're set up to facilitate a wealth of different ways of working - and offer the power to change it up as needed. You can brainstorm together in a booth, sketch out a plan on a communal table or code quietly in a corner. That means greater autonomy and ownership over your work.
Finally, coworking spaces are inherently participative and communal. They're about people coming together, building connections and sharing ideas. Vibrant and community-led, they go beyond the 9-5, becoming home to talks, seminars events and "unconventions" where members share their expertise.
It's More Than "Warm Fuzzies". It's Good for Business.
Everything above sounds great in theory. But as a business owner you know that actually setting up a coworking space costs more than theoretical dollars. So what's the ROI?
Well, if you're PricewaterhouseCoopers, about $850m. With an 80% millennial workforce, failing to meet specific generational needs can lead to massive churn. And that churn is costly. PwC has crunched the numbers, finding that turning its offices into millennial-friendly coworking spaces is the solution.
Its newly flexible spaces, combined with remote working policies, meet millennial needs for establishing an equitable work-life balance. Plus, with fewer employees in the office and many "sharing" hot desk space, space requirements are drastically reduced. It's a win-win.
It's not just employees who can benefit from coworking spaces. CapitalOne's Cafes are designed as a space for customers to work, relax or meet with financial advisors about banking and financial planning products. They break down traditional provider-client barriers and deliver a service-oriented approach that's baked right into their business model.
What's the goal? To entice millennial customers who are wary of big banks and swayed by tech-forward, personal approaches.
Coworking is so sought-after it's become a standard amenity offering for multi-tenant commercial developments. It's the business model for cafes like San Francisco's Workshop. It's also an end in itself, as evidenced by massive coworking successes such as WeWork, currently valued at $16b.
Making Ideas Happen, or Building A Coworking Space.
So you're sold on the idea of coworking. Now you just have to make it happen. But before you get a sledgehammer and start taking down those office walls, plan it all out. A successful coworking space isn't just an open-plan office (which employees loathe). It's about creating dedicated spaces that facilitate different types of working. Think brainstorming, meetings, conference calls and distraction-free quiet time. Some private space is a must.
Depending on the size of your space and workforce, your coworking space may simply involve repurposing existing office and boardroom spaces for collaborative working. Alternatively, you may want to look at hiring additional space at an existing coworking facility in your area. Employees can work remotely from this company-sanctioned hub, getting away from the main office space while still working within the overall company environment.
Most importantly, bear in mind the purpose of a coworking space. It's not merely a remote office. Workers should feel that what they're working on has some personal or social value.
So make your coworking space mission-driven and people-first. Encourage work on personal or community-first projects and create conditions that promote talks, events and other programming. This helps build your community, grow your knowledge base - and position your company as a thought leader in its field.
Developing an enterprise coworking space but need some help? StellaPop can help!
Our team of move management and real estate specialists has spent 15 years working with every sized company and organization to understand their office needs, space challenges, and how to accommodate them through the complicated process of moving their business to a new workplace.