Over the recent years, the workplace environment has significantly evolved. You’ve seen trends like remote work, adaptation to the Generation Z workforce, flexible work schedules, work-life integration, robot acquisition, gig mentality, upskilling, and many others. As for the setting, many workers are opting for shared workplaces instead of the traditional private offices.
In 2010, only 21,000 people worldwide were handling their jobs from coworking spaces. By 2020, this figure had risen to 2.26 million. And from 2021 and beyond, the strong upward trend is predicted to continue. There are undoubtedly good reasons for such widespread adoption. But still, every good thing may come with downsides too. In this article, you’ll learn the benefits and challenges associated with shared workplaces. (1)
The kind of workspace has a significant impact on one’s success at work. In a 700-person study by the University of Warwick, it was proven that contented staff are more productive than unhappy ones. (2)
Now, the levels of happiness aren’t equal across all workplace settings. For instance, private offices that accommodate only one staff member each are associated with gloom, whereas open-plan offices that host dozens of employees help impart a joyful mood. Here are the benefits of shared workplaces:
When working at home, you’re likely to get lonely and restless, and this may lead you to watch the TV, eat out of boredom, chat with friends, or take a siesta. Such interruptions add up to a significant amount of lost time during your work shift. And the same might be true for solitary offices, where you might be tempted to doze off on your desk or make a short visit to your workmate in another office to catch up with them.
However, for shared workspaces, you’ll most likely be in the company of others. As you see others working on their respective assignments, you’ll automatically feel the urge to work hard too. Your mind has no time to wander. At times, your “fear of missing out” encourages you to keep up with others who seem to get more work done than you. When you’re surrounded by productive people, you can easily complete tasks and deliver them to your supervisors ahead of time.
Better time management
With a shared workplace, you always know at the back of your mind that you’ll not be behind your desk forever. Usually, you book your workstation for a specific duration, after which someone else might be in line to take over from you. Thus, you work as hard as you can to complete your tasks within this time block.
That’s unlike other settings like working from home. There’s a tendency to work at an extra-relaxed pace, knowing that you have the whole day and night to work. You may end up spending so many hours on a task that would’ve taken only one hour to finish. In this same sense, a private office may encourage a slower working pace, given that you’re the only one using the space, and you don’t have the urgency to complete tasks so that you pave the way for someone else.
Most coworking premises operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That accommodates both the day and night workers. If you live in big cities in the US, such as Seattle, you agree that nightlife is fast gaining popularity. Aside from the club-going elite, you see many other offices and retail outlets open for business throughout the night.
So, whether you’re a night owl or an early-morning worker, you won’t miss a coworking space Seattle that caters to your needs. Also, you can book a shared space for as little as two hours, and that’s what you’ll only pay for.
If you’re an entrepreneur looking to improve your business skills, you need to work around other people to see how they run their businesses and probably learn a tip or two. For instance, you can listen to them as they speak to clients and note their tone of conversation, word usage, and the presence or absence of verbal mannerisms. A shared workplace offers you this opportunity.
In many cases, you’ll share a room with people from other companies. As you interact with them, you get a deeper insight into how other companies run their businesses or how employees keep their excellence at work. Learning tips from other businessmen or professionals can help you gain ground in your entrepreneurial and career ventures and move on towards success.
Additionally, it’s an excellent opportunity to network. Think about giving out your business card to every person who sits next to you, keeping in mind that they’re different each day. In about two months, you’ll have your business made known to nearly 100 people. Couple this with your random chats with the people you meet within the shared offices, and you’ll succeed in the big networking game.
Business experts champion networking as a way to create awareness about one’s existence, gain professional mentors, and expand knowledge by considering other people’s viewpoints. (3)
If you lease an office, you’ll most likely have to pay upfront rent for a year or more. On top of that, you’ll have to purchase required office furniture like desks, chairs, cabinets, and equipment like computers, printers, telephones, scanners, and the like, not forgetting an internet subscription. If you’re just starting out on your business venture, you may not have all the cash to sort out all these expenses, especially if you haven’t partnered with investors yet.
Several renowned companies, such as Orange, Sprint, IBM, and Facebook, also use shared workspaces for their many employees as they expand their operations. And cost saving is one of their reasons for this approach to business, among others, like testing new ways of working and generating new contacts. So, you can borrow a leaf from them and rent a coworking workspace too. (4)
Luckily, coworking spaces come fully furnished, and you only have to pay rent for shorter periods, even weekly-nothing like upfront fees or several-month deposits. Furthermore, many providers offer incentives, such as high-speed Wi-Fi, free printing and scanning, free coffee, and full kitchenettes. And that’s an excellent opportunity to keep the costs down.
Healthy work-life balance
Many workers nowadays, especially the millennials, want a healthy work-life balance. In actual fact, about 50% of the current workforce are considered millennials. They expect and demand more flexible schedules than their predecessors. (5)
If this applies to you and your boss grants you the privilege of working remotely, consider hiring a coworking space. You’ll only have to show up during those hours you’re comfortable with, rather than sticking to a strict 9 to 5 routine. And during your shift, you can split the work hours as you please. Perhaps three hours of work followed by one hour of working out.
Despite the many pros of sharing a workplace, there are still some challenges that you might face with such an arrangement. The main ones are as follows:
In a typical workday, you’ll have some employees with a light workload while others have a lot on their plate. The less-occupied ones may spend a greater part of their work doing non-work-related stuff, such as chatting with friends online or having a one-on-one with fellow staff. If you’re the busy one on such a day, you may find distractions unbearable. You may spend quite some time on a piece of work that you’d have completed in a few hours were you alone and focused.
Coworking spaces usually don’t offer complete privacy. If you’re working on confidential documents, those seated behind you may accidentally peer on your computer screen and compromise the privacy that such documents should be accorded. Also, your conversations over the phone might be overheard by those sitting near you, yet you wouldn’t want to risk the security of confidential information that you may be sharing with the call recipient.
In addition to that, the mere fact that a stranger might be intentionally eavesdropping on your personal or business conversations is in itself bothersome, causing discomfort and lack of security.
And when you’re hosting a guest, there’ll be less privacy for a visit, given that all your coworkers present on that particular day will spot the guest as they come in through the central entry point and also unintentionally monitor them throughout their stay with you on the premises.
It may happen that your nature is the exact opposite of your desk mate. Perhaps they like office chitchat, yet you prefer keeping to yourself. Or even if all of you are talkative, you may not entirely fit in the kind of conversations the rest wants to have. In the worst-case scenario, you may share an office with a verbally or sexually abusive person. Such compatibility issues may result in stress and other health conditions, like high blood pressure. (6)
Fortunately, no one restricts you to working somewhere you’re not comfortable with. If you experience any problems at your coworking space, you can always look for a more conducive one.
No customization options
If you hold meetings with potential clients, you always want to give them a lasting impression of your brand. In the traditional business setting, you can achieve this by having elaborate posters on the walls or even designing furniture and other fittings in your brand colors. Such magnificence improves customer experience, which is essential in winning new customers and retaining the current ones. (7)
For shared workspaces, you have no freedom to customize the interiors to propagate your brand identity. Thus, you may not be able to impress customers who meet you on such premises in that approach.
Should you rent a shared workplace?
You now have concrete points supporting and disapproving shared workplaces. At this juncture, you’d want to scrutinize the nature of your business in light of the pros and cons of coworking spaces highlighted above.
If the benefits outweigh the challenges, go ahead and rent one near your residence. But if the cons seem overwhelming, you may want to explore other alternatives, such as working from home or leasing a private office. The idea is to choose an option that works well for you and not just flowing with the current or jumping on the bandwagon. Once you settle in your preferred type of workplace, make a point of striving to be as productive as you possibly can and seize all opportunities in front of you. That’s how you drive towards success in the business world.
- “Number of people working in coworking spaces worldwide from 2010 to 2020,” https://www.statista.com/statistics/554315/number-of-people-working-in-coworking-spaces-worldwide/
- “Study: Being happy at work really makes you more productive,” https://fortune.com/2015/10/29/happy-productivity-work/
- “What Is Business Networking?” https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-business-networking-and-what-are-the-benefits-2947183
- “Why Companies Are Creating Their Own Coworking Spaces,” https://hbr.org/2018/09/why-companies-are-creating-their-own-coworking-spaces
- “Millennials Want A Healthy Work-Life Balance. Here’s What Bosses Can Do,” https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellevate/2020/07/23/millennials-want-a-healthy-work-life-balance-heres-what-bosses-can-do/?sh=3e8622147614
- “Problems and Issues at the Workplace,” https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323700827_Problems_and_Issues_at_the_Workplace
- “The Motivational Benefits Of Art In The Workplace,” https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2014/07/31/the-motivational-benefits-of-art-in-the-workplace/?sh=2eb158bc182f