Co-working has overtaken the conventional workplace, enabling people and businesses from diverse backgrounds to work together in a common space.
In 2015, nearly half a million Americans worked in more than 7,800 shared work spaces, a number which was expected to climb to 37,000 work spaces by 2017.
So why are people and businesses favoring co-working spaces? One reason driving the rising adoption of co-work spaces may be growing awareness of mental health issues in the workplace.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), a negative work environment may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and a lack of productivity. WHO identified poor communication, low supervision, limited participation in decision-making and inflexible working hours as some of the reasons contributing to workers' mental health.
Many traditional offices foster the above factors (poor communication, etc.) through their office layout and structural management. These offices tend to have less interactive positions, encouraging email communication rather than face to face interaction. This also restricts idea-sharing and supervision.
However, due to the number of people and resources available in co-working spaces, health issues are minimized and productivity levels are increased, which helps drive performance.
Smart furniture company Modoola conducted asked five businesses what helps them boost performance. Below is what they said:
- Co-work spaces allow entrepreneurs to be part of a community. At its core, co-working seeks to create strong communities and foster synergies, adding greater value to everyone who participates. The dynamic energy of these places and unique work culture helps reduce the sense of isolation that entrepreneurs experience when launching and growing a business.
- They can improve well-being and performance. The increased interaction and support of other entrepreneurs can also result in a healthier mind and body, helping to motivate employees and push performance. In a study conducted by Deskmag of 1,500 co-workers in 52 countries, 86 percent of individuals reported a decrease in their sense of feeling isolated. In addition, 75 percent reported an increase in productivity and 92 percent said the size of their social circle had increased since joining a co-working community.
- Co-work spaces drive creativity and innovation. Unlike many conventional offices, creativity flows in co-working spaces. This allows for constant collaboration with individuals who bring new perspectives to projects, which could help you gain a competitive advantage in the market. While co-working can be seen as a sharing environment, it is also a learning environment. In a co-working environment, you are surrounded by a variety of workers with unique skills and talents that can, in turn, help broaden your skillset.
- Co-work spaces provide valuable growth opportunities. The diversity and culture of co-working provides businesses with the opportunity to leverage external expertise from different industries. It also offers valuable opportunities to connect and network with local talent. Further, co-working spaces are one place to look for guidance, as they regularly offer networking events, training programs and social events.
What if you don't currently have a co-work space?
What can you do if renting a co-work space isn't an option? How can your business achieve a better work environment? How can you and your employees reap the benefits that come from a shared space environment? With people spending a large proportion of their time at work, it is important to ensure that they are working in a healthy environment. To provide the same dynamic environment that co-working offers, encouraging collaboration is vital, and can be achieved through providing appropriate furniture, regular breaks, team-building activities and a positive working environment.