There is something very special about coworking spaces and it is about time that we all realize that coworking is much more than just a buzzword or a passing trend. Coworking is here to stay. So, what can we learn from coworking spaces? And why are people so madly in love with them?
Although the term “coworking” did not exist back then, we already saw its origins when the first hackerspace, C-base opened, in Berlin in 1995. Similar to other hackerspaces, the community-oriented C-base, offered a physical location where people could meet and work. The space embodied three key coworking principles.
1. A collection of like-minded people with similar interests and values
2. Emphasis on community
3. Space available for coworking and events
Even though the world today is quite different than what it was 22 years ago when C-base was born, what people value in their daily life has remained the same. We still like to surround ourselves with people we can identify ourselves with and we are still social creatures that value a strong sense of community.
Some things just never change – do they?
Coworking undermines turf-battles and emphasizes collaboration and friendships
Compared to corporate employees, who in many instances still are expected to show up in the office space within normal working hours, many of the people who make use of coworking spaces have the freedom and flexibility to work wherever and whenever. Having the choice to work from home daily, what is it that drags people to coworking spaces anyway?
Something tells us that it might lay in the values the coworking spaces are built upon.
In coworking spaces, people work independently with less hierarchy. Workers are accountable for their own projects, progress, and working methods. These conditions prevent “social idleness” and counter-productive behaviors such as hierarchical competitions. Compared to the corporate offices and because of the limited direct competition and internal politics, people don’t feel they must put on a work persona to fit in. Coworking spaces give them room to just be themselves.
Coworking creates a sense of community
To feel part of a community is a big reason why people choose to work in coworking spaces. Research has shown that people who work from home for long periods of time, not only eliminate the boundaries of work and private life, leading to excessive working hours, distractions, conflicts in private life and constant tension – but also experience higher degrees of social isolation and loneliness. This has proved to have a negative effect on professional performance.
To avoid finding themselves without professional and social security, people search for places where they not only can perform their work but also be a part of a strong community.
Beyond anything else – coworking spaces are more about the human element and less about performance and its associated stress. This represents a fundamentally new interpretation of work. Today, work enjoyment, meeting people, and exchanging ideas are becoming the basic values around which the most time-intensive activity of our current society revolves.
Coworking spaces are associated with freedom and independence
The thing about coworking spaces is that people actively choose to be there. People make use of coworking spaces just when they are in the mood of having the impulsive coffee discussions, meet new people, teamwork, network and go somewhere else when they want to be left alone.
Freedom and independence are increasingly becoming important for the new generations of workers. Freedom to some extent can however also be associated with being alone and not having anyone to share everyday uncertainties and struggles with.
A coworking community combines the best of both worlds.
Coworking spaces make it possible for people to enjoy their increasing freedom without losing social security.
What we can learn from coworking spaces
The rising popularity of coworking spaces is not only a result of a higher number of independent workers. It also has something to do with our state of mind when going to work.
What we expect our workplace to facilitate today is much different than what it was a decade ago. To learn from coworking spaces and how they continue to live up to the worker needs it is therefore crucial that we manage to:
- Focus on creating work experiences rather than just spaces
Don’t get fooled by the design. Even though we must focus on creating open spaces that enhance networking, creative thinking, social interactions and collaboration – the workplace is about much more than just the layout. It is the hospitality, the service and the human interaction that are a few of the many reasons why people want to come to work.
- With trust, you can set your employees free
We can learn much from the trust found within coworking communities. If we always trust our employees to do the best they can, then why not give them the freedom to perform their work in whatever environment they prefer. Therefore, put efforts into turning the workplace to a space for both formal and informal social interactions. A place where employees do not only come to perform their work but a place where they can enjoy themselves outside of work.
- Make coworking a real option
Why not consider coworking as a part of your company’s strategy? Give people alternative places to work. Spending time away from the office at a coworking space can spark new ideas, improve your employees’ networks and even help you to connect with new talents.