As the concept of employee and place of work begins to change and become more fluid, there has been a global rise of ‘coworking spaces’, which serve as transient spaces where individuals and companies can work alongside a variety of professionals. Whilst these spaces provide flexible physical locations without traditional constraints, do they actually work? Do they really promote cross-sectorial cooperation and innovation? Are they conducive to entrepreneurship?
Different studies and interviews of those that use coworking spaces and founders of these spaces have revealed key messages that point to what makes these innovative spaces different to traditional office environments. With reported higher levels of satisfaction and productivity, ongoing research has highlighted the following reasons for their attractiveness:
- People who use coworking spaces see their work as meaningful.
- They have more job control.
- They feel part of a community.
In an environment where collaboration and assistance are the norm, work takes on new meaning, stands out and can even be a valuable asset to another space user. The spirit of collaboration can exist in traditional office spaces, yet can also be accompanied by office politics and internal competition. By working with ‘strangers’ from a range of professions, this can help strengthen each individual work identity, add value to each unique contribution and ultimately eliminate the sometimes counterproductive aspect of internal competition.
When it comes to job control there is no denying that the world of work is changing and the once accepted 9-5 schedule with rigid policies, pushy bosses and no room to manoeuvre is being replaced by the need for autonomy and ultimately flexibility for workers. Coworking spaces allow for necessary but minimal routine and structure without traditional constraints. These spaces are normally available at all hours, meaning that working days can vary depending on when long hours and days are needed, to when a few hours are sufficient. This allows for healthy balance between professional responsibilities, family obligations and other social needs, through the flexible schedule a coworking space promotes.
Finally, the sense of community these spaces create is another strong factor in their attractiveness. Autonomy and flexibility are aspects that can be achieved from a home office, yet this can be isolating and result in decreased productivity. In contrast, the coworking spaces offer both interactive and individual work stations, giving users different working style options as well as the chance to socialise and expand their personal and professional networks.
With the ever changing workforce and working styles, . Taking into account the figures, the studies, the interviews and the ongoing research, there are definitely some benefits to coworking spaces, but can these benefits be translated into entrepreneurial success? Entrepreneurs often think outside of the box, so perhaps working spaces that fall outside of the ‘traditional box’ of structured and rigid office spaces are what these pioneering and innovative minds need to build their networks, launch their ideas and ultimately bring innovation into our daily lives.
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Interested in coworking spaces and what it is like to run one? Read through the Promoting Enterprise interview with ‘The Library Group’ CEO and founder Anne-Sofie van den Born Rehfeld on Instagram! Find out about her entrepreneurial journey and what led her to set up and run her network of coworking spaces in Brussels.