It’s hard to ignore the shared workspace revolution that is happening all around us; coworking isn’t just something that happens at the front line of modern urban life. It’s happening everywhere – from cities that never sleep to small towns.
Coworking is here to stay. The reason is simple; it’s a win-win-win. Entrepreneurs can accelerate their business growth, freelancers can carve out the working life that they actually want, and companies can encourage their workers to flourish. Oh, and generally everyone gets more done, and you can save money. Win-win-win, right?
That’s all great, but one of the most important reasons why shared workspaces are emerging all over the place is the tangible benefits they offer. Because let’s face it, somewhere along the line, a lot of company offices forgot this key fact. We are people. We don’t all necessarily thrive sitting in the same fluorescent cubicle day after day.
Coworking enables people to thrive, not just survive, and one major reason for this is the fact that whether we realise it or not, a shared workspace teaches us values that the average corporate office simply doesn’t. No training manual, or (shudder) corporate teambuilding exercise can ever come close to the skills and values learned organically by simply living them.
Encountering different people from different professional backgrounds is always going to mean you’re exposed to more ideas and greater opportunities. Coworking brings you into contact with more opportunity for collaboration. Instead of rejecting a project because it requires a skill you don’t have, a shared workspace becomes a pool of talent where you can seek out your next collaboration.
Collaboration requires another important skill; communication. Without a doubt, a shared workspace enables you to naturally build up your communication skills. Talking to different people, however formal or informal the chat; whether you’re discussing your work, their work, the current political situation or that series you’re both binge-watching, all adds up to better communication skills. For more on the power of collaboration see our blog: More Than Just a Desk.
A shared workspace brings you into contact with more people, sure, but it also requires you to work on you. The temptation to hide away in a company office is very real and working from home is a series of pitfalls and temptations that often leads to very little work getting done (a ten-minute nap, you say?). Coworking means you bring your A-game. There is no-one curled up on their desk asleep and – hopefully – nobody is watching movie trailers in their pyjamas. Everyone is there because they want to be. Everyone is aspiring to be as productive as the example set by everyone else.
If you’re struggling in a shared workspace, solutions are everywhere. There is freedom to move to another place in the office, to shake it off or shake it up. There is an area where people can chat, a kitchen where you can refresh your cuppa, the friendly guy who you spoke to last Tuesday who knows all about the software that has just shut down on you three times in a row. Openness might seem like vulnerability, but once you embrace it, openness really means security, and that is great for your wellbeing. For more on coworking and wellbeing see these top tips.
A modern shared workspace introduces you to diversity in every possible way. Sure, you’ll meet people from all over the place, but when we talk about diversity in a shared workspace, we can open the term right up. Shared working environments attract people from all stages of their working life. From the young entrepreneur with a flourishing startup to the experienced older business owner and from individual freelancers to team players. You’ll meet people who are at the top of their game, and those who are embarking on an entirely new career. Check out our piece on networking for more on this.
In no other place will you work alongside people who are in a completely different industry. Yesterday an architect, today a designer, tomorrow a writer. From each of these people, you will learn something new. That is the true value of diversity in a collaborative workspace.
Yes, we know it’s a phrase that can be thrown about far too much; but hear us out. When people talk about shared workspaces helping with the work-life balance, it’s usually aimed at freelancers and those working from home who find it difficult to draw the boundaries between work and well, everything else. However, shared workspaces aren’t just for freelancers. Increasingly, they are populated by a community from a wide range of backgrounds and working situations. You’re just as likely to find yourself sitting next to an accomplished professional who works for one of the world’s biggest corporations as you are a casual freelance writer.
The benefits to your “work-life balance” come not from separating out your work and your life but from knowing when it’s good to mix them! This is just as true for the employee as it is for the self-employed. People don’t work the 9 to 5 anymore so we each need to find our own unique way to make work an integrated part of our modern lives. That doesn’t mean switching off at 5 o’clock and forgetting all about the work you are passionate about until the next day. It might mean meeting up with another member of the coworking community at a casual social event in the shared space and having a chat about a project you are collaborating on, enabling you to take the next morning off and hit the gym. Pretty balanced, right?
Working on your own initiative, without a supervisor breathing down your neck or a boss in the office next door can be incredibly freeing. If you’re a freelancer, then a shared space can actually increase your sense of independence (more on this here). You might be surprised how much coworking boosts your productivity and helps you to be more creative.
Instead of putting your effort into looking busy, you will be busy making an effort. Because otherwise, nothing happens. The project doesn’t move forward, the job doesn’t get done and you don’t move on to the next opportunity.
In a shared working environment, you’re accountable to yourself. You get back out whatever you put in. You can work with as much creative independence as you want and reach out to the community when you need to. The result is a new appreciation of your own ability, and this leads to the very next value on our list; confidence.
Maybe it’s because of the diversity, or the creative environment; perhaps it’s the relaxed atmosphere, or it could have something to do with the fact that you’re only accountable to yourself. But, a shared workspace delivers confidence in a way that none of us quite expected. The freedom to work at your own pace, to follow your own initiative and carve out a working life that suits you, allows you to express your individuality. You do things your way, and you come to a new appreciation of those around you who are doing the same. Put simply, it makes you feel more self-assured.
Community boosts confidence. You might be doing things your way, but you have a community who have got your back. You have a pool of resources that you can tap into when you need to. The people around you know that you have something to offer them. There is security in this, and that security allows you to be your best self, and nothing boosts your self-esteem like the feeling that you are fulfilling your potential.
You can find community spirit in any office environment. It often comes from sharing the same issues, working together on the same projects, being in the same place for long periods of time. In a shared workspace, community spirit develops differently. You may share a space, but you’re all there for different reasons, and this encourages you to find true common ground. A space that puts social interaction at the heart of how it functions rather than trying to stamp it out, relegate it to a quirky sideline at the water-cooler or force jollity via team building workshops, allowing relationships to build up naturally. These relationships are the foundation of a community.
Community spirit flourishes when each person feels a sense of belonging and having a genuine passion for a place and its people because they have values that extend beyond the purely functional ‘this is where I work’ feeling.
Getting into the Values-Driven Space
If you are interested in a shared workspace, come and get a feel for our spaces and see these values in action. Drop us a message or book a tour and take a look for yourself. There’s no better way to get a sense of what we, at Areaworks, are all about and what a shared workspace could do for you than stepping through the door. There’s a better way of working and we’re here to make it happen.