The Future of Co-Working and its Potential Impact on the Way We Work and Collaborate

The Future of Co-Working and its Potential Impact on the Way We Work and Collaborate

Co-working is a working arrangement wherein people from different organizations and departments share a space while working on their respective tasks. The concept of managed offices can be traced back to the early 2000s. The crowd in these spaces consisted of the first self-employed freelancers and entrepreneurs in the emerging web-internet services sector, looking for alternatives to bustling coffee joints, business centers, and home offices.

Since the concept of office on rent has acquired a global outreach, its relevant spaces have evolved to keep up with the ever-evolving demands of all industries.

What is a co-working space?

To put it simply, a co-working space signifies a physical environment designed to accommodate people from different fields who seek out dedicated places to work where they may find themselves more productive than the average office, café, or the comfort of their home. 

The characteristics that set a Co-working space apart from traditional offices or eateries include sharing common facilities and the universality of tools and services available for most sectors. The shared infrastructure allows for comfort, flexibility, and adaptability, which may otherwise not be accessible from home or an office.

It has been observed that co-working spaces are now being used by large corporations seeking to cut down on their office space, dissociate from traditional headquarters, and adopt a more inclusive way of working, all for the same outcome, i.e., increased productivity and better work output.

Co-working spaces are practical tools established, and growing companies may use them when expanding. These spaces allow access to new talent pools without the risk of long-term leases. They’re convenient for new remote workers to collaborate with colleagues without having to commute for long or change too much of their routine.

Reasons for its Development

Although “co-working” as a term caught light relatively recently, the very basis of it has existed for far longer. The evolution of these co-working spaces tells the average person that people have been working alongside one another for about as long as there have been people.

The past few years have seen co-working spaces reconsidered due to the emergence of fast-changing workplace trends. Organizations have had to shift towards a distributed way of working due to employees’ demands for flexibility & autonomy concerning the timings and the manner of using existing office spaces. For example, remote employees want to be out of their homes to improve focus, hold meetings with potential clients, and use specialist equipment.

As a result, the hybrid workplace model continues to become more popular by the day. This model creates a new environment with combined components of remote work and in-office work. To support this unique work style, organizations have been seen discarding the originally fixed cubicles and dedicated desks and swapping them out for standard tables where team members can sit side-by-side or across from each other. These steps transform existing office layouts to encourage collaboration, creativity, team spirit, and equality. 

With its early onset, the recent pandemic forced many of the world’s population to work from home. While this increased productivity for a while because employees saved time on the commute and saved resources that would otherwise be exhausted, it also slowly started to finish the sense of community that comes with working alongside others. The past couple of years saw employee morale dip to its lowest ever. Hence, co-working spaces became popular albeit viable options for remote workers to stay connected and productive.

To add to the diversity of it all, many co-working spaces have also begun to offer virtual memberships allowing members to access essential amenities, like physical addresses, reception service, etc. This was a great way to maintain workflow even during the pandemic.

The pandemic also pushed many organizations to re-evaluate the need for a physical office, especially in the face of the apparent cost-effectiveness of the remote working option.

Benefits of Co-Working

The existence and evolution of co-working spaces have proven to be especially beneficial for independent freelancers since the advent of the concept. Still, today, it plays an even more significant part in a corporation’s strategy to maximize profits by switching to a new flexible work model. Allow us to evaluate some of the main advantages of co-working spaces:

  • Flexibility – Co-working spaces usually don’t require workers to sign long-term contracts to access their facilities. Small start-ups and freelancers can sign up for relatively short leases and flexible pay-as-you-go terms.
  • Community – The innovation of co-working as a concept started with the aim of helping early web entrepreneurs escape the dull constricts of isolation. While these spaces have now evolved to fulfill higher demands and cater to a much more comprehensive range of roles, they’re still social spaces at their very essence. They allow like-minded professionals to connect and build a community and a healthy support system.
  • Swift Networking – Working alongside professionals, whether they’re from your industry or work in a sector you’ve never heard of, allows you to network. When you use a co-working space, you inevitably network and access opportunities that would otherwise never present themselves.
  • Productivity – Sharing a co-working space with focused and passion-driven professionals is guaranteed to boost one’s productivity. The presence of other professionals makes slacking off embarrassing, if not difficult, and the physical commute required inevitably binds one to a schedule.
  • Creativity – The physical presence of people inspires creativity and ideas. We’re more creative when we’re. Whether you need a fresh concept or require an innovative solution to a tricky problem, interacting with co-workers can help a great deal in kick-starting new thought processes and indulging perspectives one wouldn’t likely consider.
  • Affordability – Every business functions with one primary financial aim, i.e., minimizing input and maximizing output. Hence, many businesses consider cost efficiency a factor of considerable (if not prime) importance in their day-to-day functioning. Compared to traditional offices, the sheer affordability of co-working spaces makes them great options for companies incurring heavy losses and small start-ups with even smaller budgets.

Impact of Co-Working

Image Source: DevX

If co-working has gained so much popularity in the past few decades, what has been its real-time impact? Let us shed some light on aspects of its impact that may otherwise go unnoticed.  

  • Co-working spaces give members a sense of professionalism and credibility that traditional remote working does not. For example, most people wouldn’t wear formal clothing or sit at dedicated desks working from home. In a shared space, they’d be expected to present professionally and work with an ethic similar to the office.
  • Co-working spaces help new businesses make a positive impression on potential clientele. In this day and age, a business can exist entirely on the internet and do well too. But, when employees come together to work in a space, potential or existing clients see this as a sign of legitimacy and credibility.
  • Employee morale dropped drastically after a few months of working from home during the pandemic. With the strong emergence of co-working spaces, numbers indicate that said morale has gone up again, and people have begun to gather at a place to work around others.

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What is the future of co-working? 

In the future, co-working is expected to be even more popular than it is today. Why? Because on a hypothetical graph, the remote work trend is still increasing. New start-ups may not even opt for traditional offices from the get-go. They may instead choose a remote hybrid model wherein employees meet at a co-working space once a week to discuss agendas, plans of execution, etc., and work from home for the rest of the week.

As the collective industry of freelancers oversees a rise in its workers, co-working spaces may begin to offer them small office options where they may simultaneously create an exclusive professional and social environment. In addition, time may observe co-working spaces becoming more and more specialized. The following are some newly emerging distinctive workspaces catering to different industries:

  • Open Workspaces – These spaces have layouts of large rooms with no walls or cubicles. Perfect for creative people who like to draw inspiration from their surroundings and enjoy the visual as well as the physical company of others. Open workspaces aren’t a good option for people who prefer privacy while working.
  • Private Workspaces – These spaces consist of a layout that still sports private cubicles and meeting rooms that small start-ups or remote employees of a company department may use without hindrances. They’re also often only accessible to members of a single organization simultaneously.
  • Sector-specific Workspaces – These spaces may include the tools, facilities, and layouts used and preferred by the industries they’re catering to. They won’t be of much use to professionals from other sectors.

How can companies contribute to co-working in the future?

Though co-working spaces have been functioning independently in the near future, there are certainly a few ways in which even corporations can contribute significantly to the development of co-working spaces. Here’s what we may observe in the future.

  • The future may seem like companies providing open co-working spaces in their offices available to professionals of all teams and departments within the company.
  • Companies may also begin to partner with co-working spaces and sponsor co-working events. Ventures like this help introduce people to the concept of co-working and help them find the right community.
  • Service-based companies may also choose to set up their own co-working spaces exclusive to just their clients so that professionals from the client companies may work on their respective projects while overseeing the progress of the services close to the source.

Co-working is a relatively new and unique work that has proven effective in the mainstream corporate world over two decades. The reason behind its speedy and lasting success lies in its versatility. It caters to freelancers and large corporations alike. All the while allowing companies to tap into a pool of unexplored talent on a global scale with minimal resources, reducing operating costs and fostering a sense of community for remote employees. Moreover, as the world progresses, it becomes imperative that more big corporations shift to a co-working model as the emergence of shared spaces has shown excellent results for the collective carbon footprint of the planet, thus it poses to be a hopeful solution to at least a few of the many issues of global warming.

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