The concept of co-working – the renting of desks in a shared space – has been popular in the US for some time.
Over recent years it’s also started to take the UK by storm, reflecting the changing nature of work culture.
BusinessLodge’s Trent House, a new flex-space in Stoke-on-Trent boasts a large, modern co-working area, which is already proving incredibly popular.
But just what do we mean by a co-working space? And who exactly is it for?
The term was coined by Brad Neuberg who started the space sharing movement in San Francisco in 2005. In a nutshell, this refers to a shared office space, popular with freelancers and start-ups, where a person can go to sit down at a desk and work among like-minded people in a structured atmosphere that fosters autonomy – without any of the workplace politics.
What exactly are the benefits?
When working from home it can be difficult to separate your work schedule from the day to day drudgery of family and household chores. It’s all too easy to nip away from the laptop to “just pop on a quick wash” or catch up on your paperwork. In addition, the to-do list left by family can end up making greater demands on your time than you need.
In a shared office there are fewer distractions, so the temptation to undertake a ‘quick’ household task or two is removed.
Additionally, a shared office offers well-designed workspaces, actually created to facilitate productivity. On an ongoing basis, working in the box room of your house at a battered old desk whilst sitting on a dilapidated kitchen chair just won’t do.
The stats say it all. 71% of workers saying they feel more creative in a co-working space while 68% say they are able to focus more.
Over time, working from home can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness and low productivity.
Commercial agent Cushman and Wakefield state:
“In recent years, remote workers have increasingly voiced a significant challenge to this workplace concept: loneliness due to a lack of human interaction. Providing a venue for the exchange of human capital by implementing innovative solutions for workplace interaction has set shared space apart from the idea of working remotely. Nearly 83 percent of respondents in an
Emergent Research survey about coworking indicated that they are less lonely as a result of joining a coworking space, further proving the growing desire to “work alone together.”
The social element of co-working also shouldn’t be underestimated. Trent House is kitted out with trendy chill-out areas and an on-site gym, giving our co-workers the chance to recharge those batteries which in turn promotes both physical and mental wellbeing.
Networking and Increased Knowledge
Let’s face it. Starting a business or going solo can be tough.
Where on earth do you get all of your customers from?
Networking is your secret weapon here, and a co-working environment provides the ideal opportunity to build your network, working side-by-side with others from different industries.
In this way, members can benefit from each other’s expertise, fostering a spirit of collaboration.
Business opportunities aside, you will benefit from always having someone on hand to bounce your ideas off – and there’s also the social side – what better place to get to know someone than over Friday afternoon beers?!
According to Jamie Orr, Founder of Tahoe Mountain Lab; “Coworking is about creating a better place to work, and, as a result, a better way to work. Coworking spaces provide more than just office space. They are community centres, friendly gathering places, think tanks. When you rent a desk or an office, you gain coworkers to bounce ideas off and that support you professionally in a way that you can’t find working from home or in the corporate office. Coworking connects you to a global network of professional peers.”
Often, people who want to start their own businesses have been hindered by initial outlay of office space and the ongoing costs.
This is another benefit of co-working – the costs of utilities, internet and maintenance are shared so each person only pays for what they actually need.
Many of our BusinessLodge co-workers start off with a desk in our shared space and then progress to offices as their business grows. It’s a great, risk free starting point.
It’s estimated that there are currently over 35,000 flexible workspaces in the entire world which represents 521 million square feet of flexible space!
10.7 million of those square feet are in Central London.
And by 2020, 50% of large companies will have some form of shared office space demonstrating that coworking as a concept really is becoming the new normal.