Studies show that people who work in co-working spaces are on balance more satisfied, better performers and find more meaning in their work than those working in traditional offices.
So what’s so special about co-working?
“Co-working spaces attract diverse groups of people such as entrepreneurs, remote workers, independent professionals and people from large companies who work together in a communal setting,” says Linda Trim, Director at FutureSpace, a high-end workspace joint venture between Investec Property and workplace specialists Giant Leap with two offices in Sandton.
“This seems to be create a special alchemy of contentment.”
Trim cites a study in the Harvard Business Review by researchers Garrett, Bacevice and Spreitzer which found that people working at co-working spaces were not just more satisfied and productive than those in regular offices, but were also much more engaged in shaping their future and the company's future.
“But perhaps the most important factor that the research uncovered was that these people where thriving at work because they saw their work as more meaningful than those in regular offices,” says Trim.
So why are there such differences?
Firstly, unlike a traditional office, co-working spaces consist of members who work for a range of different companies, ventures, and projects.
“Because there is little direct competition or internal politics, they don’t feel they have to put on a work persona to fit in. Working amongst people doing different kinds of work can also make one’s own work identity stronger," says Trim.
Secondly, meaning may come from working in a culture where it is the norm to help each other out, and there are many opportunities to do so. The variety of workers in the space means that co-workers have unique skill sets that they can provide to other community members.
Meaning may also be derived from the essence of co-working: community, collaboration and learning.
“It’s not simply the case that a person is going to work, they’re also part of a global social movement,” Trim adds.
Co-workers often say that having a community to work in helps them create structures and discipline that motivates them.
Thirdly, they also have more job control. Co-working spaces are normally accessible 24/7. People can decide whether to put in a long day when they have a deadline or want to show progress, or can decide to take a long break in the middle of the day to go to the gym, says Trim.
“They can choose whether they want to work in a quiet space so they can focus, or in a more collaborative space with shared tables where interaction is easier.”
Even though the co-working movement has its origins among freelancers, entrepreneurs and the tech industry, it’s increasingly relevant for a broader range of people and organisations.
“In fact, co-working can become part of your company’s strategy, and it can help your people and your business thrive. An increasing number of companies are incorporating co-working into their business strategies,” says Trim.