The old-fashioned office model was driven by necessity and maintained by familiarity. In most instances, it has always been far from ideal. Hours are generally inflexible, conditions are bland and wearying, and set groups of workers sharing a space all day everyday are as likely to develop mutual loathing as they are to coalesce into a cohesive unit.
Today, with ubiquitous digital technology and high-speed internet connections allowing us to stay in touch no matter where we go, most of the reasons that kept organizations in isolated offices have crumbled away — and with the downsides as prominent as ever before, even the most stubborn businesses are starting to consider changing their approaches.
For entrepreneurs and forward-thinking companies alike, an increasingly-popular option is coworking. Through coworking, workers from multiple organizations and fields share office spaces when needed, and everyone gets to reap the benefits — it’s essentially a middle ground between the old office model and the full remote-working model. But why is this arrangement so good? Let’s get more specific.
It’s cheaper than a regular office
Let’s start with the most obvious benefit for the solo worker compared to a regular office environment: it’s markedly cheaper. Instead of having to assemble a team to rent an office together, or rent a small space to work solo, you can simply turn up to a coworking space and pay whatever the fee may be to work there for that day — or arrange a longer-term deal and get an even cheaper price.
Since populations keep growing but available space stays the same (and with the average worker having a fair amount of uncertainty about their financial future), this kind of arrangement is a lot easier to deal with. You don’t need to commit to an expensive space that you may not need, and if you want to work from home for a day, you can do so without needing to notify anyone or have concerns about the safety of your workplace.
It keeps you focused
Back when remote working was still a practical impossibility for most, it held enormous appeal: no more commuting, no more company dress codes, and no more having to deal with irritating colleagues. But when people used to office life started being given opportunities to work from home, they started to realize that the comparison isn’t cut and dry. After all, there are various problems with working from home:
- There are many more distractions (pets, games, etc.).
- There’s no direct in-person supervision.
- The conditions are unlikely to be conducive to productivity.
- The lack of company can make it lonely.
You may well enjoy being at home more than you do being in an office, but you might find that you struggle massively to work effectively from home, and people who care about their jobs will find their diminished workrate negatively affecting their mood and self-esteem. The less you get done on any given day, the more you’ll have to get done the following day, ramping up the pressure, stress, and anxiety. And with no way to get immediate in-person reassurance from anyone that you’re doing well, you can easily get into a downward productivity spiral.
In a coworking environment, you have fairly few distractions, and people around you to keep you feeling professionally motivated. You know that you can leave if you really need to with no major repercussions, so you also feel less trapped than you would in a standard office.
It keeps introducing you to new people
On any given day of heading into a coworking location, you might meet someone totally new. Unlike in a regular office environment, you don’t need to wait for your specific company to get recruiting in order to see some fresh faces — and the people you meet might well be from interesting new industries. Since professional networking is extremely important (particularly for anyone who works as a freelancer or a solo entrepreneur), this is hugely valuable.
The value isn’t solely professional, though. It’s also a great way to make new friends and get to know people you might never have encountered otherwise. Since it’s crucial to have a good work/life balance (working to live, not living to work), this is yet another major point in coworking’s favor.
It gives you a choice of locations
Moving office is usually a frustrating and arduous experience, even in the digital world. You may only need to pack up and move some laptops, but you still need to deal with any paperwork, handle complex fees, and choose areas that suit everyone involved — and you can realistically only have one office at a time (unless your company happens to be massive, of course).
But you don’t actually need to tie a modern business to a specific office. We’re in a time of digital self-starters, ecommerce, SaaS companies, and lots of online businesses up for sale (digitally based anywhere across the globe) to anyone fed up with the 9-to-5 grind and ready for a change. Startup culture goes beyond physical locations — entrepreneurs takes their businesses with them wherever they go.
Accordingly, through coworking, you can simply get up and move yourself to a new office whenever you want. This is great for two reasons: firstly, you can take a working vacation across the country and still get things done, and secondly, you get to feel more content with your chosen workspace because you know that it isn’t something you committed to out of convenience — it’s something you chose from a wide range of options.
So, what will a future dominated by coworking look like? It will be financially, geographically and practically flexible, and maintain all the best elements of the classic office structure without carrying over the worst parts. Something to look forward to!