Co-working environments and the rise of the digital nomad

Co-working environments are no longer the sole domain of freelancers and moustachioed hipsters who think they’ve landed on the next big app idea.

April 11, 2017

With the relentless march of mobile technology and workplace trends that increasingly emphasise collaboration, businesses both large and small are discovering the competitive advantages of short-term leasing in co-working spaces, rather than entering into a standard long-term fixed lease.

The workforce is changing – and changing fast. By 2030, it’s estimated that millennials will make up 75% of all active employees. This generation have never known a world without technology touching every corner of their lives, so why do businesses still expect them to perform at their peak using pre-digital work-modes?
Here are some of the top advantages that co-working offers for both employers and employees.

The benefits for businesses

Most business owners’ first concern when considering a co-working arrangement is price. With office spaces in trendy business hubs commanding exorbitant sums, many are attracted to the idea that co-working spaces could save money on rental and management fees. While this may be the case, the cost reductions associated with co-working are not always so easy to pinpoint. Often, savings don’t come down to by-the-metre rental, but through flexibility and scalability.

What will your business look like in five years? Or maybe just two? It’s impossible to say, especially in turbulent economic times. Your team might grow or shrink, but one thing that won’t change is the amount you’re paying to lease your offices, often on a five or ten-year lease agreement that doesn’t take into account a simple fact: businesses change. Unlike fixed leases, co-working spaces allow for drastic changes to the scale and makeup of your workspace, depending on your needs, whether it’s one desk or 20. This is especially attractive to new start-ups and solopreneurs, whose profits in the early days can quickly be gobbled up by high office rentals.

Co-working also holds potential to save businesses money when it comes to hiring and retaining top staff members, who hold workplace flexibility and a better work-life balance particularly dear (yes, it’s those millennials again). Offering staff an engaging, flexible and enjoyable working environment lessens staff turnover, improves productivity and increases staff satisfaction – a win-win situation in which both employee and employer thrive.

The benefits for employees

In an annual survey by Deskmag, people in co-working environments were revealed to be more creative, confident, and productive – showing co-working’s great potential for informing workspace design for years, or even generations, into the future. And while working from home is generally most companies’ first foray into the flexible workspace environment, it’s not always ideal for the employees. For many, a work-life balance doesn’t include bringing work into the home and family environment, where stresses and distractions can be as frequent as they are in a standard office. That’s where co-working spaces help strike a happy medium. Co-working spaces are normally accessible 24/7, so individuals can decide how and when they want to work, around family life, without any repercussions.

Another of the things employees love most about co-working is the atmosphere of networking and collaboration they foster. A shared office space brings together the most unlikely workers. A copywriter may find himself sitting next to a fashion designer, software engineer or architect. While the advantages of such a setup may not be immediately obvious, one thing is certain: innovation happens when new perspectives collide, and sharing a workspace with workers in various fields offers insights and viewpoints you’d never find in the traditional office. A shared space also makes outsourcing faster and more efficient, offering the ability to collaborate on projects, without the need for long-distance calls or travel.

Does your employer encourage innovation and flexibility through co-working spaces and other flexible working options? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.