Co-Working seems to be one of the latest buzz words in business at the moment. Especially if you’re based within a property-related or creative-based industry. Over the last 10 years the flexible workspace industry has seen some very impactful cultural shifts driven by the rise of entrepreneurship and the rise of accessibility as a whole.
Before I dive into why co-working is the new way to work, I’ll quickly explain what co-working is in our eyes at Co-Space. Co-Working is a community driven way to work, heavily adopted by creatives but not isolated to the creative industries. In former years, if you wanted to start a business, you’d have to grow your idea from your bedroom or kitchen table until you could get enough revenue to hire a small office, usually with a very inflexible 3–5 year lease with large costly overheads. Co-Working has completely disrupted this old model. Now, for one fixed low cost, anyone can hire anything from a single desk to a large 50+ person office and beyond, within a much larger space, on much more flexible terms. The benefits of this include transparent business overheads, an inclusive environment, a community and a network, and complete flexibility. You effectively have all the benefits of an office space without needing to pay for more space than you need at any given time. What’s more is you can expand within the space as the company grows and use as much, or as little, of the services offered as you need.
There’s a lot of data behind the benefits of co-working, largely focused around mental health, but the main driver we see is community. That feeling of being a part of something much bigger and not feeling as isolated or alone. Let’s face it, in those early days business is lonely. I remember working from home for just over a year and a half and the highlight of my day was a pigeon visiting my window. We crave that feeling of others being around us, even if we don’t directly engage with them. That ability to look up, see other things happening around us, and then continue with our work. It’s why we see so many people working from coffee shops when the kitchen table does the exact same job.
Co-Working initially took off in larger cities like New York and London, with industry leaders like WeWork (Global) and The Office Group (UK) pioneering the initial model. Since then, smaller unique co-working and flexible office spaces have popped up. Examples range from Work.Life and Fora, to us - Co-Space. I’m personally biased towards Co-Space but I have a deep love for the Flexible Workspace sector as a whole. Since the recent boom in major cities, more regional locations have been affected. Until now, your only options have been working from home, coffee shops, or regional providers like Regus. There’s a market for Regus, but it’s not the same market that looks at co-working and flexible workspaces in my eyes.
One of the biggest barriers to entry when you launch a business is your network, or lack of it. Co-Working opens you up to larger groups of people who have done, or who are currently doing, what you want to do. These connections become unquantifiable. Our working life takes up a large part of our day, in fact it takes up a large part of our life when you think about it. Co-Working offers that home from home environment that makes life that little bit simpler and much, much more enjoyable.
It’s not just start-ups that are adopting co-working either. Large blue chip companies are also getting on board. The working economy has shifted in the last 5 years and is quickly becoming more and more output driven. More and more companies are allowing for flexible working hours and flexible locations, as long as the results are still being delivered. I can’t speak for the entire millennial generation, but I certainly see first-hand a desire to integrate work and life together through flexible working, as opposed to your traditional 9–5 regime. The lines between work life and home life seem to be becoming much more blurred. In fact, I personally don’t believe in work/life balance. Sure, you need time away from the office, we all do from time to time, but for me work life and home life both run in parallel to each other. I take time to focus on each, but no set time frames as such. I deal with the urgent, wherever it comes from.
Whether you’re a company of 5 or a company of 500, we all still want the same things: flexibility, freedom, and above all community. Co-Working provides this. Convenience has become a new form of currency in today’s economy.
Finally, co-working opens many businesses up to a larger pool of talent. Gone are the days of hiring from a 20 mile radius. More and more people are going freelance and keeping costs low through co-working. Thanks to co-working, you’re also able to readily access skilled people around you. Let’s say I need some graphic design work doing. It’s too costly to hire someone in house sometimes, often you just need that quick conversation with someone next to you. Now let’s say I get chatting to someone over at the coffee machine, we all love coffee, right? Next thing we’re chatting about our companies and he/she mentions that they do freelance graphic design work. Hey presto, I’ve just found a graphic designer on my doorstep. The pool of skills within most co-working spaces is typically readily available and the vast amount of talent might just surprise you.
If you can’t tell by now, I’m a huge fan of the flexible workspace sector, and I think we’re only beginning to see some of the bigger shifts in the way we work. At Co-Space, we’re working to help change the future of the workspace by creating design-led, functional spaces for businesses of all shapes and sizes. That’s my plug, that’s all I’ll say, but once you’ve visited a co-working space it’s easy to see why it’s quickly becoming the new way to work.