What is coworking?
The term "coworking" has become increasingly popular recently, even if the pandemic caused the trend to collapse briefly. In Germany, we are now at the peak of interest. But what exactly is coworking?
Fundamentally, coworking is nothing more than working with other professionals in a shared space. This can be a shared office, a workspace or even just a café (which provides an office infrastructure).
There are many reasons why self-employed people and businesses choose coworking. For some, it is a way to save money on office space. For others, it's a way to meet new people and network. And for some others, it is simply an alternative to working alone at home.
No matter the reason, there is no doubt that coworking has become an important development lately. Even in the face of the pandemic. It is estimated that there are now about 19,400 coworking spaces around the world. Let's dive into this new concept of working. In doing so, we will show how companies and businesses can benefit from this scenario.
What impact did the pandemic have on coworking?
The pandemic has forced almost everyone to work from home. This has led to an increase in the number of remote workers. Coworking spaces are becoming a viable way for these workers to connect with others and stay productive. As a result, these facilities are growing in popularity as they promote a sense of community and collaboration that is often missing when working from home.
Many coworking spaces also offer virtual memberships that allow members to access the amenities of the space, such as a physical address, reception service or phone service. In fact, the concept of virtual coworking emerged long before the pandemic and apparently spread quickly during that time.
The pandemic has also forced many companies to re-evaluate their need for office space. Coworking spaces can be a more flexible and cost-effective option for businesses that no longer need traditional office space. And commuters and the environment in particular are pleased to see businesses taking advantage of coworking in this regard.
Why are coworking spaces important to master the future?
The rise of the new work paradigm makes it necessary for companies to adopt new strategies and methods to remain competitive. Coworking spaces provide an ideal setting for companies to experiment with these new strategies as it is done in a safe place. The improved networking and creativity gives businesses a competitive edge, which they so desperately need in this age of sophisticated technology. In addition, these venues offer a variety of amenities and services that can be tailored to the specific needs of each business.
What are the advantages of coworking?
Okay, so what are the benefits of coworking? Let's take a look at some of the most popular reasons why businesses, freelancers and self-employed people choose coworking.
Coworking spaces offer a number of benefits, including the following:
1. Cost efficiency & effectiveness
One of the great benefits of coworking is that you can save money on office costs. Coworking spaces are often cheaper than traditional office space, as they offer freelancers and businesses access to a variety of amenities and services at a fraction of the cost. If you are a freelancer or small business owner, renting your own office can be expensive. Coworking spaces and desk rentals are quite affordable here and allow for maximum flexibility.
2. Network catalyst
The networking opportunity is another significant plus of coworking. Coworking spaces allow businesses to network with other like-minded individuals and businesses. When you work in a shared space, you are bound to meet new people with similar interests. This can be a real opportunity to make new contacts and find potential employees. Meeting new people who have different interests and with whom you get on well can be an even greater potential.
3. Unpredictable cooperation
Coworking spaces encourage collaboration between companies, which can lead to the formation of new partnerships, relationships, new ideas and even new business models. Companies also use coworking spaces as a tool for regional development that harnesses the power of networking, especially in rural areas.
4. Playground for creativity
The relaxed and casual atmosphere of coworking spaces can lead to more creativity and innovation. This goes hand in hand with new, unforeseen and exciting collaborations between people who normally do not cross paths or work together.
5 Increased productivity
The social and collaborative environment of coworking spaces can help businesses increase their productivity. When you are surrounded by other professionals, you can often concentrate and get your work done better. And when you need a break from work, you have the opportunity to talk and share with others in the coworking space. And maybe this will give you new inspiration and motivation.
In addition, coworking offers great flexibility in many respects. Coworking spaces can be rented on a short or long-term basis, giving companies the flexibility to expand or reduce their capacity as needed. Professionals simply decide how often they want to be in such an environment. And if they intend to travel, coworking spaces in other cities are often available to them.
7. Sense of community and belonging
Coworking spaces often have a strong sense of community that can help businesses feel supported and connected. This sense of community is one of the most attractive features of coworking for many people. When you work in a shared space, you are part of a community of like-minded professionals. This can make work more enjoyable and motivating.
There are many benefits of coworking, but these are some of the most popular. Coworking spaces often offer other amenities that are difficult to find in a traditional office, such as on-site childcare, a fitness centre or simply favourite cafés or restaurants nearby. In addition, coworking spaces often organise events and workshops by and for the coworkers that promote their professional development.
What are the challenges that companies face with coworking?
Coworking spaces present a number of challenges to businesses in the new work era. As with any new venture, there are always challenges that businesses and the self-employed have to face. Here, the challenges of coworking are primarily the same as the benefits: Cost, community and facilities.
Although coworking spaces are often cheaper than traditional office space (especially for freelancers), companies still need to consider their budget when choosing a space. Coworking spaces can be expensive, especially for organisations that need a lot of space. This is a challenge for companies on a tight budget.
2. Lack of privacy and quietness
A coworking space often lacks privacy and quiet spaces. This can be a burden for businesses and people who need to focus on their work and not be interrupted.
The laid-back and casual atmosphere of coworking spaces can be a distraction for some businesses, as it can also be difficult to focus on work and not be interrupted. After all, there can be quite a few distractions in a coworking space, from other people working around you to a high noise level.
4. Social interaction
The same goes for the social interaction that coworking spaces offer. For some companies, this can be more of a challenge than an advantage, as they may prefer a more traditional office environment.
5. Scheduling conflicts
In coworking spaces, scheduling conflicts can occur, e.g. when two companies or professionals want to use the same meeting room at the same time. This could be a constraint for those who need to use the space at a certain time.
6. Limited resources
Coworking spaces also often have limited resources, such as access to printers or meeting rooms. This can also be a challenge for companies that need to use these resources on a regular basis.
When choosing a coworking space, companies must make sure that the facilities and services meet their needs. Otherwise, they might be forced to compromise on their needs.
8. Cultural Fit
It is important that companies make sure that their corporate culture fits the coworking space they have chosen. Otherwise, they might feel out of place and also uncomfortable.
How to use the advantages and minimise the disadvantages
Choosing the right space is crucial to getting the most out of it. In larger cities, you have the luxury of having multiple spaces, which increases the likelihood that you will be able to access them conveniently. But that doesn't mean you have to settle for what's offered in areas with fewer coworking spaces. Just ask the operator if you're missing something and how you can solve the problem together. Constant feedback can only improve these places.
How can coworking be used to increase productivity?
Make sure there are dedicated work areas within the coworking space. This helps to avoid distractions and allows employees to focus on their work. Some coworking spaces offer private offices or meeting rooms that can be used for more focused work sessions. In addition, many coworking spaces have community managers who can facilitate collaboration and networking between members.
What is the future of coworking?
The future of coworking is likely to be even more popular than it is today. This is because the trend to work from home will continue to grow, and coworking allows companies to still be present in an office environment.
As more and more people also work as freelancers or start their own businesses, coworking spaces will offer them a place where they can work professionally and socially at the same time. In addition, coworking spaces will become more and more specialised. We can already distinguish between these types of coworking spaces:
- Open Workspaces
- Private Workspaces
- Sector-specific Workspaces
Open workspaces are synonymous with the 'traditional' type of coworking space. This means that they are generally open to everyone. Private workspaces are the opposite and often only for members of a single company. Industry-specific workspaces offer a great opportunity to share a space for people with common interests and experiences.
Among the most selective coworking spaces are incubators and venture capital spaces. These places are designed to attract and fund businesses by providing them with the support they need to develop. In exchange for participation, venture capital firms usually give start-ups they accept into their programme a reduced rent or capital.
How can companies contribute to coworking in the future?
There are a few ways in which companies can contribute to coworking in the future. One is to provide coworking space in their offices. This can take the form of a designated coworking area or allowing employees to work from home occasionally. Another option is to sponsor and support coworking events and initiatives. This can help introduce new people to coworking and help them find the right community for them.
Businesses can also promote coworking as a way of working and collaborating. This can encourage more people to try it out and find out if it is for them. In this way, businesses can help coworking become more mainstream and accessible to all.
Furthermore, organisations should also consider the needs of freelancers and so-called "lone workers" when it comes to coworking. This includes access to the necessary facilities and resources, as well as creating an inclusive environment that welcomes all types of workers. In this way, companies can create an inclusive space that is truly beneficial for all, regardless of whether they are employed by the company or not.
Conclusion - why coworking will prevail
Coworking is a not-so-new but different way of working that has far more advantages than disadvantages - for businesses and freelancers alike. It allows companies to tap into a global pool of talent, reduce their operating costs, foster a sense of community and collaboration, and gain flexibility. It is also good for the environment as it reduces the CO₂ footprint. Overall, coworking is a great option for companies looking for an innovative and productive way to work. Put simply, it is simply beneficial for all parties involved.