Can Offices and Coworking Co-exist?
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During pandemic many employees were obliged to work from home. And many of them managed to succeed in it. But human connection is one of basic needs so completely remote work is not a cure. At the same time it is hard to work on the background of a constantly distracting family. The classic “if you’re at home, then you don’t work” with all that it implies: household chores, constant requests and other very important things that need to be done right now. But even without household members, you have to spend time at least on preparing lunch, dinner and snacks. Return to a good old office might be the way out. But if that is impossible a coworking space is a comfortable spot where no one interferes and there is everything you need to work productively. And it will cost less than coffee shops or cafes. Though, we need to know a little more before trying. And what exactly is the future of coworking spaces?
It all began in 1995 when a German hacker created a space shared with other 17 computer engineers to exchange ideas and meet like-minded people.
In 1999 Bernard DeKoven, a video game designer, introduced term of “coworking”, but rather as a way of work than space sharing.
In 2002, two Austrian entrepreneurs set up a hub in old factory premise with professionals from different field gathered to work at the same location.
Finally, in 2005 Brad Neuberg presented coworking space in San Francisco as we know it today.
The popularity of this format began to grow for several reasons:
– flexibility – easy to move in and out in a short period of time;
– increased demand from small teams (from 3 to 20 people);
– an increase in the number of small events – lectures, meetings, trainings;
– a limited number of high-quality locations of “classic” offices;
– check-in speed – on average, it is no more than two days from the date of registration of the application;
– the popularity of the “sharing” economy among the new generation of entrepreneurs.
What is it like to use a coworking?
Coworking is a huge work and educational space where events are constantly taking place. This gives employees the opportunity to develop in the profession and related fields, while saving the manager from spending on third-party trainings and courses. And you do not feel obliged, because listening to an interesting lecture in a beautiful creative space with a cup of coffee is much more pleasant than spending half a day at a corporate seminar held in a strictly formal setting. It turns out that specialists are always aware of trends and new technologies in their field and can implement them in a timely manner. Working in a single space, joint dinners, going for coffee and going to events sooner or later flow into constant communication, friendship or partnership.
In the office the manager is often in a separate closed room and rarely takes part in the affairs of employees. And if an entrepreneur has several projects, then he has to constantly travel to meetings or switch between different offices. Coworking, on the other hand, unites everyone in one area. The “boss-subordinate” border is being erased, everyone works as a single team, exchange ideas, and consult with each other. It is easier for the head of the company to track the processes, indicators and success of employees and to be aware of everything, if necessary.
It is much more profitable to rent a space in a coworking area, where everything is already included: from the Internet and coolers to cleaning and an office manager. Perfect for a new company or startup that is equally likely to take off or close in a couple of months. You can completely immerse yourself in work, coworking takes care of all the organizational issues. At any time, you can expand or leave without losing money – nothing restrains you, because you have no obligations in front of a landlord.
Common benefits of coworking spaces
To make it more structural there are several features of coworking, which make them preferable:
The need for communication
Coworking has an office bustle. Someone is on the phone, someone is holding meetings or brainstorming sessions, and someone is discussing the past weekend. After several years of working at home alone and in silence, remote workers come to the coworking space, primarily for communication.
Often people of similar / identical professions gather in coworking spaces. Yes, they can work for different companies, but nothing prevents them from exchanging experience.
A sense of the team
In small coworking spaces, people get used to each other. And it feels like you are working in one team, with no bosses or leadership, only colleagues.
However, the main advantage of coworking spaces is mobility. So, when additional employees are recruited for a project in a short time, there is no need to look for a new office or premises – the coworking space will be an excellent alternative to the classic rental.
In coworking spaces, compared to classic office spaces, there is a great deal of variability in the choice of services and the possibility of reducing costs due to the fact that only the space is rented and only for the time that you really need.
Here you can get the service of an unfixed workplace, when the first applicant gets a free seat, or you can rent a permanent working time at a convenient time. The advantage of coworking spaces is precisely the opportunity not to bear the full cost of renting an office, but to use only the minimum required area.
Coworking spaces also have their downsides. Among them are:
- high cost for large teams.
- there is less privacy and confidentiality compared to a classic office.
- stereotype of “prestige” of your own separate office.
Why big companies use coworking
Among the main reasons why big business chooses coworking spaces:
- Delegation – coworking takes over the maintenance of the space, selection of location, design, procurement, construction and finishing works.
- Financial savings – there is no need to spend a large amount at once on repairs and rent.
- Shortage of premises with good location.
Large companies have appreciated the beauty of agile offices and creative workspaces where motivated employees enjoy working and growing. Coworking spaces in different cities and countries are a great alternative to branches when scaling up and entering foreign markets. And a convenient way to bring a remote team scattered around the world to a unified schedule and well-coordinated processes. We recommend trying this format for large companies, aspiring entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups and creative people. The rhythm of life will become more dynamic, the days brighter, meetings, ideas and events, and work more productive. Many people dream of harmoniously combining work and personal life, achieving success in both areas, and coworking is a chance to finally find a balance.
Thematic coworking spaces in the USA and Europe
Just so you know, the global market also offers coworking based on activity fields to simplify collaboration.
For example, Green Spaces in Denver, designed for charitable, community or environmental projects.
Designers, journalists and students prefer to create at The Coop in Chicago. There is a personal chef and thematic lectures and exhibitions.
RocketSpace is an elite business accelerator for IT startups in a coworking format.
English TechHub is another startup accelerator working in partnership with Google, Adobe and ZenDesk. The coworking space often hosts events where investors get acquainted with projects
There are also separate coworking spaces in the US and Europe for writers, designers and women entrepreneurs. Plunging into the environment of like-minded people working in the same field, you grow rapidly, immediately learn about new trends and mechanics in your industry and always have the latest information. Working among professionals and successful projects means always being one step ahead of colleagues, closed at home or in offices and rarely spending time on training and professional development.
What is the future of offices and coworking spaces?
Even before the pandemic, we saw a trend towards the development of a sharing culture in various spheres of life. Coworking spaces are part of this trend. The pandemic has led to the fact that many of those who had not previously considered the format of teleworking for themselves, changed their attitude towards telecommuting. And those who found themselves in self-isolation with their loved ones realized the need for a separate comfortable workplace, because being 24 hours a day in one confined space without the ability to change the landscape is quite exhausting psychologically. In addition, not everyone has the opportunity to create an isolated workplace in an apartment. Having a coworking space near the house could be the best solution in such a situation.
And since the role and importance of freelancers and startups in the global economy is growing every year (this trend is already obvious), their preferences that become a priority. Therefore, the evolution of coworking spaces will continue to meet the growing level of customer demand. Where it will lead is very breathtaking to observe. But offices will continue to exist, at least in the nearest future.
In addition, office costs can be optimized so that its monthly rent will be cheaper than in coworking spaces. For example, by application of hybrid model companies have already managed to save tons of money while preserving the office space. Yes, this is definitely a great way to work remotely, and its audience will only grow. But we would be extremely careful in predicting an avalanche-like growth in demand for them and especially, total extinction of old offices. However, future of shared office spaces looks pretty bright.
Impact of the pandemic
In fact, a coworking space is an office with a service and more comfortable rental conditions, therefore it is sometimes also called a service office. Flexibility here – in the special conditions of the lease agreement, which allow you to easily reduce or increase the area, prematurely terminate the lease term. The office adapts to the needs of the business. In the face of uncertainty and crisis, this flexibility generates great demand from tenants.
Of course, the issue of health safety is very relevant now. There is, for sure, the risk of catching an infection, both in the office and in the coworking space. Another thing is that you can try to reduce these risks. Cleaning the area and sanitizing equipment is especially vital. If all the preventative measures are applied the health threat is lower.
The epidemiological situation, quarantine measures and economic consequences forced businesses to rationally approach spending. Some companies moved to smaller offices, others left offices for something more flexible or went fully remote. The stabilization of the epidemiological situation, the restoration of business activity and the return to work will contribute to the popularity of flexible offices. Basically, having gained experience in remote work, many companies will not abandon it and will move to a flexible hybrid work format and employee rotation. This option will provoke an increase in interest in flexible venues, both in business centers and in coworking spaces around the house.
This format was in demand even before the pandemic, but in the current realities, the demand for them will increase significantly. Many large companies, having successfully reorganized to remote work during the period of self-isolation, are seriously thinking about reducing the leased office space and transferring their divisions to permanent remote work, work in coworking spaces, in order to reduce rental costs. Even though we cannot predict precisely the future of coworking spaces after Covid-19, we guess they will have a giant impact in business world.
Predicts how the new offices and coworking will look like
As for coworking spaces, they will grow more and more taking more leading positions for business owners and individuals. Looking at current trends, we may assume luxurious and comfortable interior with everything necessary for an efficient work with consideration of flexibility. Though, some will offer industry-specific spaces.
The rest of the coworking space will be a cozier version of the office. There is no dress code, passes, coffee and smoke breaks on schedule and fines. You can come there in a comfortable sweater and sneakers, sit next to your beloved cat, and put a thermos with tea and a huge packet of cookies on the table next to your laptop. You can work on a sofa, in an armchair, on the terrace or by the pool (awesome if you have a chance to), and hold planning meetings, appointments or negotiations in a specially equipped meeting room. At any time you can have lunch, drink coffee or take a walk to restart your brain.
Even today around coworking spaces usually grow real townships, where you can spend the whole day. In the morning there is work area, where you periodically change locations. After work you can go to a lecture, event or party and immediately have dinner, and then have a couple of cocktails at the bar. And, of course, the atmosphere. In terms of atmosphere, coworking leaves the office, the house, the cafe, and even the Starbucks far behind. Most likely, developers will proceed to emphasize this.
In recent The Spaces article design and technology experts have shared their predictions on the future of offices. Among the most realistic tendencies are:
Green and sustainable
Due to climate change worries a lot of companies will be more supportive into environmental initiatives. It is not only about alternative energy, but also about balance with nature.
Comfortable to work in
This consists of several points: first, more equality at the workplace; second, satisfaction of life needs by provision of access to gyms, and social life and even spots to rest.
From the automation of many processes and to the smart buildings, technology will keep on improving our workflow in the future.
Flexibility of place and people
Distributed workforce and rational space usage will serve companies to gain the maximum efficiency. Limitations will be blurred.
We also need to mention influence of Coronavirus. Coworking spaces were popular before the health crisis. They had and still have their own core of consumers who will not refuse such a service even after all restrictions have been gone. After the boom and the closure of some coworking spaces, the market grew steadily. As many people work in coworking spaces as in offices, and sometimes even more, from an epidemiological point of view, there are no advantages here. And the rotation of visitors in them is greater. So whatever location is used, the focus should be on safety measures.
Why do we still need offices?
There are companies which are not ready to give up on traditional offices for many reasons. Some businesses need a specific building which will represent their brand. Or they associate office with high status. For others there is no point in coworking space as all employees need to be onsite. Or team is stable enough to rent an office to work in because they simply do not need to contact with other professionals. For some companies coworking is not suitable. The specifics of the business activities of some companies do not allow them to switch to a flexible form of work. For example, banks. Also, companies which do not need coworking, are those which need to constantly communicate with clients personally.
Anyway, office still has several important benefits. The main advantage is that you don’t have to share your office with anyone. An employee of the company has no problems with access to the meeting room. You can easily avoid background noise. There is no need to constantly hide your own ideas / developments from prying eyes.
Another advantage of the office is the maximum guarantee of confidentiality. It is extremely important if the main value of the company is intellectual property. Other positive aspects of an office over a coworking space:
- Convenient control of personnel activities (discipline is above all).
- Corporate cohesion.
- The ability to set your own rules for using the workspace for employees.
Some still prefer offices as a fixed place to work in with colleagues from the same organization. Offices are necessary for real-life meetings and socializing. Additionally not everyone wants to pay for coworking from own pocket.
What do the statistics say?
As we witnessing the influence of Coronavirus in many areas lets divide our data into pre-Covid-19 and now.
On January 2020 it was estimated over 3 million coworkers globally. 44% per cent of which are women.
Asia-Pacific region possessed the biggest amount of coworking spaces (more than 11,000). China planned to have over 5,000 coworking spaces by 2022.
When it comes to remote employees, some people still consider them as freelancers temporary working for a company. However, statistics shows that 28% of individual respondents in coworkings are employed for the same company more than 10 years. That reflects quite a high level of loyalty for workers who seems to be flexible and independent.
By 2020 50% of big companies thought to have coworking spaces. Probably, because 90% of employees are happier to work there and 84% even reported to be more productive.
64% have managed to finish their tasks on time while being in coworking spaces.
In 2019 it was forecasted that the annual growth of coworking spaces development would be 20%.
Today according to Coworking resources annual growth rate from 2021 is likely to be 21.4%. Approximately 5 million people will be working in flexible workplaces by 2024.
The rest of indicators keep on increasing. This means that we have adapted to the situation and coworking is definitely here to stay.
Well, we can say that coworking and office have their own pros / cons. The company must independently decide which is better. If this does not work, then you need to consult with specialists. Anyway both office and coworking spaces are evolving and offer better solutions for your business. And both of them tend to focus on flexibility required by modern world. Unable to tell an exact future of coworking we claim it to be promising.