Did you know Happy Brain Science is connected to a coworking space? We’re part of Hatch Innovation, a nonprofit whose mission is to enable people to build enterprises that improve communities. This guest post about coworking spaces is by David Mizne, Chief Contributor and Editor of the 15Five blog.
Coworking spaces have become increasingly popular in recent years, and if you’re a manager or a business owner, they can also offer major financial benefits. Renting space for your team at a coworking office typically costs less than renting traditional office space due to greater lease term flexibility.
That said, it’s understandable if you’re concerned about the potential impact of a coworking space on employee engagement, even if you have a proven performance management system currently in place. The following information will put to ease some of your concerns, helping you better understand how such an environment will positively impact engagement levels among your workers.
A Few Factors to Consider
Before we delve into the benefits of coworking spaces, it is worth mentioning that they may not always provide the ideal setup needed. For instance, you do not have the opportunity to choose how your office is designed and decorated when you choose a coworking space. This might be a drawback if you want to design your office to highlight internal branding.
You’re also relying on an outside party to maintain the technology and tools at your disposal. If the printer is down in your own office, you can exercise greater control over how and when it gets repaired. That may not be an option at a coworking office.
However, it is believed that the benefits of coworking spaces could outweigh the disadvantages raised above. Read on for the following benefits that they offer:
Benefit #1: The Value of Flexible Work Arrangements
Today’s workers crave flexibility. They enjoy completing tasks according to their own schedules, instead of arriving at the office and leaving work at the same time every single day.
This isn’t merely a theory. A recent study of Indian IT professionals revealed that organizations that provide employees with flexible work arrangements see greater levels of engagement. Additionally, Gallup’s research indicates that workers whose employers offer FWAs (Flexible Work Arrangements) are 43% less likely than others to experience burnout.
This is a benefit many coworking spaces offer. Numerous coworking offices allow tenants to come and go as they please. On top of that, because multiple companies use individual spaces, the culture of everyone arriving and leaving at relatively the same time is far less pronounced at a coworking office than it may be at a traditional office.
Using such a space gives you the chance to offer an FWA, and it can help employees feel more comfortable with such an arrangement. Someone who feels uncomfortable setting their own schedule at a traditional office, where most people would be following an established corporate schedule, may not feel such discomfort at a coworking space, where people arrive and leave according to their own preferences and needs.
Benefit #2: The Importance of Multiple Work Environments
Generally speaking, coworking spaces are designed to accommodate the needs of various businesses. Thus, they often feature multiple types of workstations and environments, including open layouts, dedicated desks, collaborative working areas, designated quiet areas, conference rooms, and more.
This can also have a positive impact on employee engagement. Quite simply, different types of people benefit from different working environments. While some thrive in stimulating offices where they can socialize with peers, others may be more comfortable in quiet areas where they can focus on their tasks. Luckily, coworking spaces tend to offer private areas where people can work free from distraction, while also including dynamic spaces where people can interact and collaborate.
Additionally, some people may prefer variety, performing their best when they aren’t restricted to one type of setting all day long. With a coworking space, your employees have the freedom to choose where and how they complete their daily tasks.
Benefit #3: Access to Technology is Crucial
Access to resources and technology is another benefit of coworking spaces. Instead of purchasing all the necessary tools yourself, you can simply make use of the tools already present at the office. Tools you might use at a coworking space include business-class printers, fast Internet, and basic office supplies, none of which you would need to purchase yourself. That’s not the case when you rent your own office.
This is crucial to both your and your employees’ success. According to Deloitte’s research, employees increasingly want access to tools and technology which allow them to work efficiently, collaboratively, and dynamically. If you’re operating on a budget, offering such access may be difficult in a traditional working environment. At a coworking space, this issue can be less straining.
Benefit #4: Socializing Sparks Engagement
Again, although many coworking offices have quiet sections where people can focus on their work, they also tend to have areas that are designed specifically to encourage socializing. Office managers want to provide tenants with opportunities to converse with each other when taking breaks from their tasks.
This is another reason to consider renting coworking space. According to Alex Pentland, Ph.D., author of Honest Signals: How They Shape Our World, allowing and encouraging workers to socialize with one another boosts both engagement and productivity. While it is true that employees can potentially socialize in traditional offices, as pointed out in the Harvard Business Review, employees often feel as though they are expected to socialize with their coworkers when everyone in the office works for the same company. The “compulsory nature” of the experience makes it feel forced and unpleasant. However, at a coworking space, people don’t socialize because HR or a manager has told them it’s important for all coworkers to feel like “members of a family.” They merely socialize because they want to.
This is also important to keep in mind if you have a remote team. You don’t want your employees to lose interest due to a lack of human contact. Offering them the chance to use a coworking space instead of purely working remotely guards against this.
Remember these points if you’re considering renting space at a coworking office. Doing so offers many practical benefits, including access to technology, reduced spending, and, perhaps most importantly, potentially higher levels of employee engagement. You simply also need to remember the drawbacks that were raised earlier. Weighing the pros and cons is key to determining whether a traditional office or coworking office is right for your team.