Entrepreneurs, start-ups, freelancers, gig-economy workers and even large corporates used to call everything from coffee shops to kitchens to airports an office.
But today, they have a new option to add to the list: coworking spaces, or ‘proworking’ spaces as the the most premium shared work spaces have come to be known. “And there is a lot businesses can learn from their global rise,” said Linda Trim, Director at FutureSpace, a high-end, shared work space joint venture between Investec Property and workplace specialists Giant Leap.
Shared workspaces operate in a variety of ways: at the basic level, people can claim seats for a daily fee, rent out rooms at a monthly or annual cost, or pay for a monthly membership to sit anywhere in the common areas.
But proworking spaces are more like a mixture between five star hotels and luxury business lounges. They offer the best of everything you could want in an office from concierge services, personal assistants and of course the latest communications technology.
“Shared work spaces give the old-school office plenty to envy in terms of cross-pollination between workers, flexible location and community.” Trim added. Here are a few ways the office can learn from the rise of coworking and proworking spaces.
In a proworking space, electrical engineers sit next to marketers and entrepreneurs sit next to programmers. There could be as dozens of different businesses in one shared office at any given time. To inspire similar levels of mingling, offices could start a game of musical chairs. “Instead of the legal department in the legal room, mix them up with accounting for one day a week,” said Trim. “From that proximity they can strategically interact and collaborate.”
She added: “People are happier in bright open spaces with good acoustics, proper lighting and air flow where they’re making social connections – not just a desk to work at.”
People in coworking spaces rate their level of “thriving”—defined as their vitality, learning and work performance—an average of nearly six on a seven-point scale, according to a study in theJournal of Organizational Behavior, far higher than in traditional offices.
One of the major selling points of the coworking environment is the flexibility and location independence that users can enjoy. “To attract and retain a competitive workforce, those features can be adopted in traditional offices too,“ Trim noted.
“In coworking offices that effectively balance focused, quiet space with collaborative space, workers say they feel innovative.”
The depth of proworking amenities can also draw people in: if you have special technology like state of the art video conferencing or just a really good private space that’s reservable, it makes the space hugely appealing. Good coffee and food is a must too.
Some proworking spaces are beautifully designed and are more akin to presidential suites than offices, making them places people want to hang out it in. And while impeccable design is important, one of the most crucial parts of a shared space isn’t as visible.
“Community management is a major component of what makes these spaces come alive and so valuable to users, “ said Trim. “People make invaluable contacts, secure contracts and greater knowledge just from being in a coworking community. And select proworking offices also hold frequent, free educational and learning events which are greatly skills and career enhancing. This topic of these events are often based on requests from the community.”