Workplace Strategy Insight: In these times of innovation, coworking is emerging as the new office.
Coworking has been the preferred office of choice for the independent worker since the community office trend began to emerge in 2006, catalyzing the disruption of the traditional workplace strategy model. Since then, the coworking phenomenon has grown at an accelerated rate in parallel with rise of the independent workforce. Today there are 50 million+ people in the USA working independently who office from home, a coffee shop, or a coworking space. Work has truly become an anytime/anywhere affair. As the coworking industry continues to mature and the corporate environment innovates, the two worlds are forming a symbiotic, albeit experimental relationship. Companies and employees have both begun to hear the buzz around coworking and have been curious how they may ‘do coworking.’
Even so, most company employers don’t know how to integrate coworking into their workplace strategy and most company employees are not aware that HR department rules on workplace flexibility are quickly evolving, making it common practice for companies to encourage mobile working.
As more companies test out coworking it’s causing the industry to evolve to support them. In fact, as reported in the latest 2016 research by Deskmag, this is the first year on record where company employee members (51%) outnumbered independent worker members (49%) at American coworking spaces.
How companies can test out coworking as part of their workplace strategy
Option One: External Coworking Strategy
Sponsor company employees to work in existing coworking spaces. Companies that have embraced ‘external coworking’ include: G.E., PwC, The Guardian, AirBnb, Pinterest, Red Hat, Automattic, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Merck, Heineken, KPMG, among others.
Picking the Right Coworking Spaces
Picking the right coworking space to match the specific needs of your mobile employees can be a challenge. Different spaces are tailored to different uses. As many cities have numerous coworking options, picking the right one can be a project in and of itself. As the awareness (and demand) for coworking has increased among large firms, it has become common for some spaces to create membership models specific to company needs. Some companies choose to send all their mobile employees to one coworking space in private offices. And some companies allow each employee to choose where they want to work.
Embracing a Culture of Experimentation
Coworking for companies should be looked at as an experiment One of the things that makes coworking spaces so appealing is their no risk, short term obligations. All coworking spaces offer month-to-month memberships. Ask your employees if they would like to have coworking as an option and if they say yes, offer to buy them a short term membership to test it out.
Option Two: Internal Coworking Strategy
Instead of sending your employees out to external coworking spaces, some companies opt to build their own internal coworking solution. Companies that have embraced an ‘internal coworking’ strategy include: Macquarie Bank, BankWest, Rabobank, Microsoft, ERA Contour, Achme Insurance, KPMG, GLG
Start with a Pilot Coworking Space
Take between 5,000-15,000 sq ft of space and repurpose it into a coworking space.
Empower it with data-driven Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
While testing out your pilot coworking space, you must find a way to measure the impact. How do you measure an increase in employee productivity, creativity, innovation, engagement, among other things? These are the KPI’s that will dictate whether or not you should expand the pilot to an entire floor, your building, or company campus.
Why/how does coworking work?
Data demonstrate that engaged employees are more productive employees than their disengaged counterparts, and the data on employee engagement is abysmal. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, less than one-third (31.5%) of U.S. workers were actively engaged in their work, meaning well over half of American employees were not psychologically committed to making positive contributions to their organizations. These figures, according to Gallup, have only declined recently.
To the contrary, data from coworking spaces underscore that engagement, productivity, and energy are ‘through the roof.’ Two recent Harvard Business Review articles speak directly to this. Coworking spaces bring together the 3 P’s of the ‘Open Organization’- people, place, and purpose– where employees work according to their own rhythms on work that is meaningful to them.
It’s all about culture.
The coworking ethos has become the workplace culture of choice in the sharing economy. Yet, the culture of most large firms does not reflect the culture that Millennials are co-creating and want to be part of. Workplace strategies and HR policies are evolving, though, as innovative company leaders embrace the modern workforce and the future ahead.
Interested in digging in further?
Read our white paper, Why Companies Need Coworking.
Ready to get started?
Get in Touch to learn how the transition can work for your company.