Why Coworking Is The Future of Work
The traditional workplace has just about had its day. Boasting numerous benefits in terms of profitability, sustainability, employee satisfaction and performance, coworking is clearly the way of the future.
Technology means many of us no longer need to travel to a central repository of information and hub of collaboration — what has traditionally been known as an ‘office’ — in order to get our work done. We can access the info we need anywhere, anytime, and are able to easily, effectively communicate with our colleagues despite occupying different physical spaces, whether they be across town or on the other side of the world.
In 2019, most professionals spend at least part of their day working from a ‘virtual office’ of one sort or another, using an electronic device at a café, while in transit, at home, or ever more frequently, in a coworking space in Singapore. It makes sense. Why tether yourself to one location when technology has made it possible to work wherever and whenever you find it most convenient?
Having the majority of workers commute to and from the same part of a city, at the same time of day, puts both infrastructure and the workers themselves under a huge amount of stress. There’s also an enormous environmental impact that results from fleets of private cars and public transport ferrying armies of workers great distances from their homes to their workplaces and back again, with most of the traffic concentrated in peak times. Meanwhile, a globally-interconnected marketplace and workspace make the traditional nine-to-five redundant — when your clients or colleagues are dotted across the globe, the hours of the ‘workday’ become way more elastic.
Companies are increasingly realising that coworking spaces provide an effective solution to the demands of the new working environment — and the desires of the modern worker. Basing individuals or groups of employees out of shared office spaces closer to their homes allows them to commute short distances on foot or by alternative, greener means of transport such as bicycles — while still remaining in touch with colleagues and linked in to central information systems technologically.
Working in or near their residential neighbourhood benefits staff by reducing painful, tedious commutes and the congestion and pollution they cause, and gives people greater freedom to attend to family and personal matters. Workplaces in close proximity to home are a particular boon to entrepreneurs and employees with parental responsibilities, especially women, who continue to bear a disproportionate share of the caretaking load.
So why not simply work from home? Well, the biggest issue is, people find that home-working can be a lonely and isolating experience. They crave the human interaction and fellowship that a shared workplace provides — although they increasingly shy from the overly structured, stifling environment of a corporate office.
One of the key benefits of a coworking space is that it lends a true sense of community (one of the key tenets of the coworking movement) while avoiding the office politics and rigid structure — a fixed location, fixed desk, fixed hours, fixed individuals to interact with — of a traditional, single-company workplace. Studies show that workers thrive in this more flexible setting, feel greater freedom and are inspired by the unforced relationships they develop and interactions they experience, at their leisure, with professionals from disparate fields.
But it’s not just workers that benefit from coworking. Companies, small and large, now recognise that utilising coworking spaces can provide vast economies of scale, cost savings and sustainability benefits. The traditional high-rise office block sees a huge duplication of resources — everything from multiple staplers right up to a surfeit of printers and numerous individual (hugely expensive) IT infrastructures. Coworking allows tools such as these to be shared and the financial outlay spread across users.
The flexibility of coworking spaces means that when scaling up or down, a company can be nimble and not incur the costs of replacing, expanding or contracting a fit-out, while at the same time, avoiding the penalties that can be levied for breaking a standard, long-term office lease. The cost benefits of using a coworking space come into starkest relief for small companies with around four staff — many boutique businesses like this report cost savings of 25 percent per annum by using a coworking space rather than a small, individual office.
Saving companies money, saving workers’ time and frustration, and in many ways, helping save the environment, coworking is a huge problem-solver — and the way of the future.