The Rise of the Coworking Space

By: Rae Steinbach

The all-in-one coworking space has become very popular in recent years. Once the domain of small teams and startups, they’ve now attracted big businesses like Microsoft, Dell, and GE.

There’s reason to believe this trend will continue. With more and more people working remotely than ever, coworking spaces offer employees the flexibility they need to be productive without the restrictions of a traditional office.

Luckily, this shift signals a positive change in society’s approach to work in general. The increasing popularity of coworking spaces may simply be indicative of broader shifts that will benefit both employees and employers in the long run.

Coworking Spaces Suit Freelance Employees

First, experts point out that the gig economy trend is no passing fad. Some estimates claim freelancers will outnumber full-time employees in the workforce by 2027. However, freelancers still need access to some of the amenities that traditional offices provide. Coworking spaces fulfill those needs.

Additionally, the recent financial crisis forced some to take on freelance positions as they waited for the job market to improve. This is another way in which coworking spaces provides clear advantages. They ensure that workers who need to adopt a freelance lifestyle in between jobs can take on any project, even one that requires access to office resources. Even if someone plans on returning to a full-time position as soon as one becomes available, they can use a coworking space to get projects completed efficiently in the meantime.

Remote Benefits for Businesses

Employees aren’t the only ones who’ll benefit from these changes. Given that more people are working remotely, businesses have the opportunity to find the best candidate to fill a role. Until recently, they were limited to applicants who either lived near the office or were willing to relocate.

That’s no longer the case. The rise of remote work means businesses can truly hire the ideal candidate for a position, regardless of where they’re located. Thanks to coworking spaces, they can also ensure the person they hire has full access to the resources they need to thrive in their position.

Smaller businesses can also take advantage of coworking spaces. These are typically more affordable and flexible than leases for traditional ones. Thus, new startups can save money by making use of a collective workspace during the early stages of growth.

A New Work Culture

The main way in which coworking spaces signal a positive change in our overall work culture relates to worker empowerment. Coworking spaces put more control over staff welfare into the hands of the actual employee.

This can manifest in several ways. For example, a freelancer may still want some form of human contact during the workday. Those who shift from full-time positions to freelance roles often cite isolation as being one of the major drawbacks of such a lifestyle.

Coworking spaces address emotional and mental health needs by giving staff the opportunity to work in a dynamic environment where they’re surrounded by others. This can also be helpful for those who still want some degree of human interaction during the day, but don’t enjoy complying with the restrictions of a traditional corporate office. Coworking spaces offer the advantages of an office without the regulations that can impact a worker’s job satisfaction.

Coworking spaces also give workers more flexibility. Many employees and freelancers may have the opportunity to work from a coworking office that’s relatively close to home, cutting down on their commute.

Since coworking spaces typically allow members to access them freely during business hours, employees in flexible positions can exercise a greater degree of personal choice over exactly what hours they keep. Freelancers and remote staff can also choose to go into the office on days when they feel it’s necessary, while opting to work from home on days when they’d rather stay in.

The culture of these spaces also represents changing attitudes towards employee welfare. Because no single business is in charge at the office, there isn’t a corporate entity enforcing rules for employees within the space.

Obviously, coworking spaces have their own sets of rules, but these are designed specifically to ensure people using such spaces are comfortable. In general, it’s possible to argue that the various teams and individuals working from this type of office will help one another establish means of ensuring everyone’s needs are met. The communal atmosphere of a coworking space is in direct contrast to the more dictatorial nature of traditional offices.

As this trend continues, we’ll likely see coworking spaces ushering in a new approach to work culture. That new approach will mark a positive change for both workers and businesses. In many ways, these changes have already begun to affect our attitude towards work.

Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course. You can follow her on Twitter @araesininthesun.