If your business operates out of a traditional office environment, take cues from the nontraditional setting of co-working space.
The numbers are in and co-working spaces are winning: 71% of people who join a work space see an increase in creativity and 62% report an improved standard of living.
As remote workers are becoming more and more the norm, these numbers are reason enough to get back into the office—working from home can be lonely, distracting and monotonous. Virtual offices and co-working spaces are ideal for some industries, yet impracticable for others — but that doesn’t mean your company isn’t able to benefit from co-working practices.
If your business operates out of a traditional office environment, the following areas can guide you towards modeling the workplace after a co-working space and reaping the benefits of a nontraditional setting.
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Embrace the Water Cooler
Employees can accomplish more together than any one person alone. In co-working spaces, neighboring employees from different companies in a range of industries act as great resources by trading skills, giving advice, and sharing insights. Building strong cross-industry business relationships is mutually beneficial, and can lead to innovative ideas that would have never been conceived single-handedly.
In your company’s office, this same principle can work internally. Seeking out people you don’t work alongside everyday — people in other departments or on a different floor — is a great way to re-contextualize the project you're working on. Isolated groups who keep to themselves run the high risk of falling victim to group think.
Anyone who has different experiences than you is bound to have different thoughts about (and solutions to) a particular problem. By encouraging employees to reach out to the person in the next cubicle, everyone gains access to the company’s collective expertise, knowledge, and skill set. In turn, this fosters creative problem-solving and boosts camaraderie between co-workers — thereby influencing a deeper loyalty to your company.
Allow for Flexibility in the Workday
According to DeskMag’s 2nd Annual Global Co-working Survey, two out of three employees who work at a co-working space maintain flexible work schedules. The types of jobs held by employees in a co-working space typically allow greater flexibility than the traditional office, but the benefits of a flexible schedule can be realized at any workplace.
By recognizing that people vary in productivity depending on the time of day, companies can get the most productivity out of employees. Even a small amount of flexibility in personal work hours can lead to increased efficiency from employees.
Allowing workers to arrange their day to accommodate daily tasks — taking children to daycare or making a visit to the dentist — shows your employees that you care about them as people and demonstrates a high level of trust within the employer to employee relationship.
Friendly competition is a fantastic way to clear your mind. More than that, it is a way to recharge your batteries and to prime employees to compete while working. Co-working spaces foster this type of behavior to maintain a fun, light environment. Every traditional work space needs that spark of excitement to avoid a toxic work environment.
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To bring the fun culture of a co-working space to your office, encourage employees to take a few 15 minute breaks throughout the day to get up out of their seats and enjoy themselves. After all, employees who are physically active for 2.5 hours during the workweek are better satisfied with the quantity and quality of their work.
Strategic video games are good for team-building, but they keep everyone in their seats staring at the same computer screens they spend all day on. Exercise is linked to productivity, and employees should voluntarily play a game on their feet. Hacky sack, NERF basketball, or (if it’s nice outside) a game of Frisbee are all low-impact yet highly rewarding activities. Give your employees an “adult recess” of sorts to be kids again. You’ll soon see an improvement in communication, coordination, and creative thinking.
Open Office Floor Plan
More business are discovering that a cubicle is where productivity goes to die. The open offices of a co-working space give employees space to move around and work in different areas throughout the day. If a group of employees want to give and receive feedback on a project—having a dedicated open space encourages this type of collaborative effort.
Completely open floor plans can sometimes be huge, distracting places where productivity plummets and workers lack privacy. However, mixing open areas where employees can collaborate, along with the option of private work areas, results in the best balance of sharing without sacrificing production.
In the end, it’s about trusting your employees and giving them the freedom to administer their own work schedules.
As the work space evolves, fostering a communicative, flexible, playful, and employee-approved environment is the only way to succeed in today’s competitive market. By encouraging both a flexible schedule and workplace setting you will not only reap the benefits of great productivity, but your employees will also be healthier and better satisfied with their careers.