Businesses are increasingly embracing coworking spaces for various practical reasons. The flexibility makes it easy to keep productivity on track throughout multiple locations, and the ability to simply stop using a coworking space (and thus not paying anything) during periods of downtime is invaluable.
It’s the personal benefits, though, that really tip it over the edge. If you build your business model around coworking spaces (and use them correctly), you’ll find that it will greatly empower your employees. And the better equipped they are to flourish as workers and as individuals, the more value they’ll return to the company.
So what specifically about the coworking model makes it so outstanding from the perspective of an employee, and how can you make best use of it to support your team? Let’s find out.
It can give them locational flexibility
Particularly in busy cities, commuting is just as much of an annoyance as ever before. The advent of services such as Uber has done nothing to combat congestion, and few are fortunate enough to live and work in places that allow them to rely on public transport. Needing to reach a specific office (potentially in an awkward location) can greatly complicate an employee’s life.
They may need to choose between accommodation that’s disconcertingly expensive and an arduous commute that can extend their working day by several hours and eat into their leisure time. And a problem like that will invariably come to affect the business — the faster they tire, the faster their productivity will drop, and the more likely they’ll be to look for work elsewhere.
If you give your employees options for coworking spaces, giving them the freedom to find a space close to where they live, it will earn you a lot of goodwill and give them more control over their schedule. Whether they put the extra time towards work or use it to bolster their contentment, it will ultimately benefit you as well.
Time tracking tools like Clockify can help project workers and team members share time logs and workloads in increasingly transparent ways. Not being in the same room as each other may actually increase transparency and accountability, not the other way round.
It can help them to network
Networking is as important in the professional world as it is personally. The more people you know, and the more relationships you can lean on, the more options you’ll have when you need support or advice. It’s also excellent for finding new clients — if you can get to know someone and build a rapport with them, they’ll be more likely to want to work with you.
When you have a standard company-exclusive office space, there are no networking opportunities to pursue. While it’s good that your employees can get to know one another better, the progress will be wholly insular. In a coworking space, though, your employees can rub shoulders with other professionals from various industries (greatly preferable to using business networking apps like Shapr, as useful as they can be).
This is great for them because it will give them some insight into how other companies and industries work, and simply be enjoyable from a social standpoint, and it’s great for you because it will inevitably nurture leads that you can pursue at your leisure. If you develop a new product, for instance, your employees may well have some connections through which you can market it.
It can support side projects and training
To stay valuable and expand their responsibilities, employees need to keep being challenged in their roles. Complacency is the death of innovation. And if you want to really push your employees, you’ll need to encourage them to pursue projects outside of their main duties (ideally a mixture of creative projects and training exercises).
The beauty of the online world is that it provides a staggering range of choices for personal and professional development, and you don’t need a complex infrastructure or intimidating levels of investment to find something that will prove effective and engaging. Let’s look at a few examples of projects you can choose for an employee:
- Pitching organizational changes. It’s always useful to get feedback from employees about how the company is running, but they’ll often feel pressured to agree with you (it’s hard to speak out against an intimidating boss). Because of the freedom allowed by coworking spaces, an employee can relax enough to research some ways to improve the business and subsequently pitch them — and if it goes well, their knowledge will increase and you’ll boost your operational efficiency.
- Running a joint venture. A great way to make an employee feel more invested in your business is to literally invest in a business alongside them. That way, they can run it with your occasional input, and you’ll both benefit. Consider ecommerce: you can run a store from anywhere, dropshipping allows fast setup with stock-free fulfilment, and you have the option to build from scratch or buy and rework an existing store (if you do the latter, aim to find a store registered in your area — working mainly from a Seattle coworking space, for instance, you could find a store within the state to avoid legal complications).
- Completing an online training course. Training in a regular office can be tough for an employee, because they’ll be distracted by their colleagues and probably feel under greater pressure to strive for 100% productivity (with training an investment in the future, it typically feels like a very low priority). In a coworking environment, people can feel more comfortable running through various online courses, steadily expanding their skill sets.
But the list doesn’t end there, and you can easily get more inventive with your ideas. Why not come up with something they’ll need to network to complete, like some kind of industry survey? That way, they’ll forge connections while developing their abilities.
It can minimize intrusive supervision
Something employees are often reluctant to admit is that they find it difficult to work optimally when they feel like they’re being watched at all times. In a traditional office, even when the boss is out of the room, it can still feel like the space is carefully monitored. This ultimately distracts employees more than anything: when they’re reluctant to take breaks, they’ll get less and less productive (even as they continue to appear to be getting things done).
With coworking spaces, this issue can all but disappear. You’ll still see your employees in person, no doubt, maybe even on a frequent basis — but on a more even playing field. Instead of seeming to loom over them, you’ll feel more like a colleague that comes and goes, and they’ll know that they have the choice to work elsewhere if they need to relax and focus. Along the way, you can monitor their performance with non-intrusive software, ensuring that you still get all the information you need to assess their work.
Some employers might be worried about their team members using that freedom to stop being productive, but if people are only getting their work done because they fear being reprimanded, that’s a sign that you’ve hired poorly (or that there’s something wrong with your company). You hired your employees because you rated their abilities, so trust them. You’ll likely find that they work harder and more effectively as a result.
Overall, coworking is a fantastic opportunity for employees, allowing them to spread their wings, take charge of their workloads, and become more valuable to your business. If it isn’t something you’ve tried yet, then what are you waiting for?