Co-working spaces: The solution to keeping offsite workers creative and productive

Thought Leadership on Integrated Workplace Management Systems presented by iOFFICE.

Step aside, coffeehouse. Co-working spaces are giving professional nomads a new place to call headquarters. These membership-based office spaces are fully equipped with modern amenities and shared by telecommuters, contractors and freelancers alike. Where home offices may stifle creativity, and coffee shops hinder productivity, co-working spaces provide a unique and social, yet professional and functional environment for conducting business.

According to an infographic created by Wix and Officevibe, an estimated 40 percent of the workforce will be freelancers, temps, contractors and solopreneurs by 2020. Global Workplace Analytics reported this year that work-from-home employment (among those who are not self-employed) has increased by 103 percent since 2005, and continues to climb. About 3.7 million professionals work from home at least part-time, if not full-time.

This shift in the way people work inspired an explosion of co-working facilities across the country, and executives are finding creative ways to use them. In addition to freelancers, contractors and solopreneurs flocking to use these spaces, corporations are setting up co-working facilities on their own campuses to bring employees together in a creative, collaborative environment. Recruiters join co-working spaces to vet new talent. And according to Bisnow, people who work in co-working spaces are 75 percent more productive than those who work in traditional offices — which has inspired some companies to encourage their staff to get out of the main office and into these work spaces.

6 things you should know about co-working spaces

1. You can’t please everyone.

People are very specific about what they want in a work environment, and as much as you’d like to appeal to everyone, it’s simply not possible. Consider the type of professionals you’d like your co-working space to attract. Are they more on the creative side of the spectrum or corporate? Your answer will determine everything about how you furnish, fill and manage the space.

Keep in mind, understanding your target audience doesn’t mean you should strip your co-working environment of diversity. In many cases, professionals are interested in co-working spaces because of the opportunity to socialize and network with different people. Diversity will help create a rich office culture.

2. Community is key.

One of the major differences between a co-working space and a traditional office is a strong community vibe — and this isn’t something that always occurs naturally. People who are interested in co-working spaces are seeking a degree of socialization they can’t get working independently. They may find working around other professionals motivating, or even inspiring, and they see co-working spaces as an opportunity to network and share ideas with other like-minded professionals. If intermingling isn’t happening on its own, management should step in to help foster the feeling of inclusivity.

It may help to implement an application and interview process instead of an open-door policy to ensure each professional resident is a good fit for the culture. You may also want to consider using several tactics to inspire socialization:

  • Distribute a regular email newsletter and feature tenants
  • Hang a photo board (or start an online forum) for tenants to post pictures, articles, ads, etc.
  • Provide educational opportunities, such as seminars or lunch-and-learns
  • Invite tenants to after-work events, such as happy hours
  • Engage with tenants via social media

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