Opinion

Why your company should be using co-working space

Escape the office. Pioneering companies are taking out co-working space for staff. Here's why
By
Jane Sartin
All firms from startups to multinationals can thrive in coworking spaces

Once a nation of fixed location office-dwellers, an estimated five million people will be based in coworking spaces in 2024 – that’s an increase of 158 per cent on the current number.  

Coworking spaces are seeing a massive increase in popularity and have become much more mainstream in our post-Covid world. No longer the preserve of start-ups, big businesses are increasingly embracing coworking. IWG, who run workspace under brands including Regus and Spaces, is just one example of a coworking space provider seeing this – having signed deals with Standard Charter, Cisco, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, Staples and Salesforce, workers can now access IWG’s network of almost 3,500 centres in more than 120 countries. Currys has also provided its corporate workforce with WeWork All Access passes, enabling them to visit over 50 WeWork locations across the UK.

So, what is it about coworking spaces that appeals to these big names?

Flexibility

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of coworking spaces is that of flexibility. Coworking spaces offer people the option to come and go as they please. Office hours can flex to suit your workers’ schedules with many coworking spaces having 24/7 accessibility options.

Coworking spaces also offer a great solution for employers who want to hire outside their region. This means a much wider talent pool and the opportunity to reach truly exceptional talent. Employers can give their remote employees memberships to coworking spaces without having to relocate staff.  

Networking Opportunities

Coworking spaces are the perfect places to meet new people and network. Many coworking spaces will even host specific networking events and activities for workers to attend. For example, FlexSA members' BE Offices offer a range of community activities, from fitness classes to holiday-themed celebration events. Coworking spaces are designed to enable collaboration and creativity and lend themselves perfectly to innovative thinking and solutions.  

Kat Patterson, MD of Art of the Possible Agency, based in Chiswick Works (part of workspace operators  X & Why) said, “I love being based in a co-working space at Chiswick Works because there’s always a real buzz and you’re constantly surrounded by a diverse mix of people.” If you want to look into getting a board of people, now would be the time to explore board governance.

A huge range of people with all sorts of jobs and talents use coworking spaces, which means workers can interact and learn from those with different experiences and skills. Being around people and feeding off of the buzz of the environment can be inspiring. A recent study in Harvard Business Review found that working alongside people doing different jobs may help to enhance workers’ identity. This also means a reduction in loneliness and a sense of human connection for workers.

Ian Bates, Founder of Firehaus, based in The Engine Shed in Bristol, added: “Coworking is like karma. What goes around, comes around. Whether planned or spontaneous, conversations about what you're doing and how can naturally lead to deeper engagement, building trust and relationships. We love it for that – meeting people we'd never normally bump into, learning new things and helping them too.”

Cost-Efficiency  

Coworking spaces ensure you only have to pay for the space you actually need. Flexibility also applies here as the kind of agreements available in coworking spaces mean you don’t have the pressure or rigidity of long-term traditional leases.  

Patterson explained that where she is based there is a price cap - “It works for me as my agency’s growing fast.”

Built-in amenities like internet connectivity and cleaning staff also reduce overhead costs when you compared to having to open offices of your own.  

Increased Wellness

The data shows that coworking makes people happier and healthier. In a recent survey of 650 “co-workers” of shared workspaces, 89% reported being happier and 83% less lonely.

As well as the various other benefits feeding into better wellness (such as the sense of community created by networking opportunities), coworking spaces often include wellness-specific areas. Wellness spaces are often integrated areas in a coworking space that are designed to offer workers a space to re-energize and re-focus. Whether it be dimmer lights, lots of plants or soft furnishings, there are many there are lots of added features to co-working spaces designed to enhance the worker's experience.  

Increased Productivity

Coworking spaces are designed to optimise productivity. A good coworking space will be made to suit a variety of different working styles and requirements with everything made to fit that particular purpose you can be assured that your environment facilitates efficiency and enables employees to work effectively.  

Cut down the commute

Covid-19 led to a lot of conversation surrounding commuting to work and the potential time it wastes. A 2017 study from the University of the West of England found that "every extra minute of commute time reduces job satisfaction, leisure time satisfaction, and mental health."  

The 15-minute commute became the standard for many post-pandemic.  Coworking spaces offer a great way to save time and money by cutting down workers' commute.  

Re-engage with your local area

In a prominent recent report, Mark Dixon, Founder and Chief Executive, IWG said, “Just when local cities and towns seemed to be dying, Covid-19 may have come along and saved them. The realisation of the 15-Minute Commute will be one of the most dramatic and long-lasting legacies of the pandemic. What were previously sleepy dormitory towns are set to become vibrant centres for work and community life.”  

This shorter commute time is also linked to the idea of being able to re-engage and re-discover your local area. Flexible Space Association members can be found all over the UK, and with coworking spaces in various locations, workers are given an opportunity to work outside of the major cities, thus being able to get involved more with local community.  

The advantages of coworking spaces are unmatched and companies have a lot to gain from experimenting with flexible workspace.  Now is a fantastic time to find a coworking space that works for your business and its workers. With long leases coming to an end, why not try something different before signing anew and see what you have to gain from co-working?  

Written by
Jane Sartin