Entrepreneurs find opportunities to collaborate, network and increase their productivity at co-working spaces that have popped up everywhere.
Coworking sites are shared open-plan areas where people work independently but communally. Members include telecommuters, freelancers and other independents weary of working from a coffee shop or home, as well as entrepreneurs looking for collaborators. Costs vary depending on the amount of use.
It’s About Relationships
Other businesses are taking notice. The Global Workspace Association—a service industry group for business center and executive suite owners and managers—has added coworking facilities to its membership rolls, and some hotels now offer space for co-working.Co-working purists say those sorts of spaces aren’t the real deal. Survey participants cited many reasons why they worked in a public setting. Some wanted a network of people to talk to. Others found the ambient noise helpful or said that watching passersby helped them focus. Still others needed to escape distractions at home. Some co-working operators say members tell them that being around other independent workers motivates them.
Collaboration and Productivity
People clearly are more productive when working around others. Independent workers—especially those with families—can benefit from working away from home because doing so establishes a clear boundary between their professional and personal lives.
Coworking sites have a number of ways to help facilitate seemingly chance encounters. Happy hours and lunches to introduce new members are one means. Many co-working sites cropped up around the time of the Great Recession, when new college grads couldn’t find work, and workers who had jobs were losing them. Co-working spaces seemed like a good place to network at the time.
No More Traditional Employment
The Intuit 2020 Report forecasts that during this decade,“Traditional employment will no longer be the norm, replaced by contingent workers such as freelancers and part-time workers. The long-term trend of hiring contingent workers will continue to accelerate with more than 80 percent of large corporations planning to substantially increase their use of a flexible workforce.” By 2020, contingent workers will comprise more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce, Intuit forecasts.
The Intuit report also sees work shifting from corporate offices“toward an in-my-own-place, on-my-own-time work regimen.” Many of these workers will need a place to do business. That bodes well for co-working companies.
Community as Selling Point
Co-working isn’t for everybody. Members tend to be men in their 20s and 30s who work in digital and tech-related fields. Even with pervasive technology that enables people to communicate all day without speaking to one another, workers will continue to seek face time.“Technology changes the way we act. But there is still this innate need for affiliation, for interaction, that technology doesn’t solve. I think it’s such an important need, and it won’t go away.”