The Communal Office: Benefits of Sharing a Workspace
We live in an age in which jobs can be done – and companies can be run – from anywhere. Although 9-to-5 positions do still exist, many companies no longer require their workers to do their job from within the confines of a cubicle. In fact, some of the largest companies in the world allow many of their employees to work from home.
Still, for some of us, working from home is not all it’s cracked up to be. Founders of many startup companies – especially in the tech industry – rely on collaboration and face-to-face communication with their colleagues in order to get their business up and running. For these entrepreneurs, working from home creates too many barriers. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they agree with the idea that their employees should be chained to their desk for nine hours a day.
Their solution: Communal workspaces.
Shared offices combine the benefits of a traditional office setting, in terms of socialization and collaboration, with the freedom provided when working from home.
ShareYourOffice recently conducted a survey of entrepreneurs who utilize a shared workspace to discover more about how such a non-traditional setting benefits their companies, as well as their industries as a whole.
A Meeting of the Minds
Perhaps the most beneficial characteristic of a shared workspace is the fact that so many hard-working, intelligent, and innovative people are brought together under the same roof. The amount of knowledge and creativity passed around these communal spaces optimizes everyone’s chances of reaching that “A-ha!” moment that leads to a breakthrough.
Though we’ve come a long way in terms of the capabilities of electronic communication, there simply is no replacement for good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. Though many modern startups don’t mandate that their employees be present for exactly nine hours every day, there certainly are times in which meetings will be called during which the entire team needs to be present.
Having a physical space to hold these meetings in is important to the success of a company. Derric Haynie, co-founder of digital marketing agency Splash OPM, told ShareYourOffice, he “wanted to have a place to meet so that we wouldn’t have to do it…at a coffee shop.” Having a central headquarters of sorts makes it much easier to communicate without having to contend with potential disruptions in a public area.
As previously mentioned, since multiple companies are simultaneously working on a variety of projects within a shared space, the potential for collaboration is huge. Alex Sunnarborg, co-founder of Lawnmower, believes communal workplaces are “quite valuable for collaboration, idea generation, (and) business integrations.”
COO of Remark Waytao Shing takes it even a step further, explaining: “Communal work spaces are great to meet new people, exchange new ideas and bounce technical challenges around.” The members of the various startups within a single communal workspace are often more than happy to share innovative solutions and help each other overcome obstacles.
Shared workspaces are also a great place to get feedback on your work from people outside your company who are still familiar with your work. Soumyadip Rakshit of MysteryVibe, says, “Working in a good co-working space helps spread the word about what we are building and also get feedback during the process.”
While working within a shared workspace, startup teams may come into contact with others who are at different stages within their own company. Not only are these situations conducive to collaboration among companies, but they also optimize the potential for mentor-mentee relationships to form.
Getting Up and Out
One of the main differences between a typical office setting and a communal office is that, in a communal office, everyone present wants to be there. Since working from home or elsewhere is certainly an option, there’s no reason for a member of a team to be there if they’re not feeling up to it. When working in a communal office, you can be almost certain that you won’t run into those dreaded toxic employees who seemingly exist only to make other people miserable.
Breaks Up the Monotony
Many of us stuck in a typical 9-to-5 dream of being able to work from home every day of our lives.
But when we actually get our wish, we realize something we never thought of before: It can be boring. Founder of Odden Creative Darren Odden reported feeling “isolated” during his first entrepreneurial venture, which was strictly based online.
Having a central hub allows you to get up and out of your PJs and get some much-needed face time with your colleagues. Odden says he found communal workspace NextSpace to be “the right mix of coffee shop and business.” While shared workspaces are definitely focused on productivity and work, they certainly provide team members with opportunities to socialize that they wouldn’t get from inside their homes.
A Sense of Camaraderie
Communal workspaces are full of individuals with similar goals, a similar work ethic, and similar mindsets.
Ryan Heneise, of MemberMan, discusses at length the benefits of working within such a community: “Aside from having a comfortable place to work, it’s nice to be around other entrepreneurs and people doing similar work. There’s a sort of camaraderie that develops as you get to know other people in the office.”
Heneise continues, “You may all be working for different companies on different projects, but you’re all walking down a similar path together.”
The teams working within a communal workspace have different goals, personalities, and talents, but they are tied together by one common factor: they all want to create something to improve the world around them.
Keeping Expenses Down
All other factors aside, sharing a workspace has a major effect on a startup’s bottom line.
Any time a company can save money on expenses, it can be counted as a win – especially if you’re just getting your business off the ground. Haynie writes, “Larger companies don’t necessarily care about price, but when you’re bootstrapping a startup, you’re going to be more sensitive (to such costs).”
Alex Golimbievsky of JobPact echoes a similar sentiment: “As a burgeoning startup, cash is king. We want to have a conducive environment without paying another mortgage.”
Especially considering that team members of such startups might not necessarily utilize their workspace as much as traditional companies use their facilities, buying into a shared workspace in which employees can come and go as they please is much more cost-effective.
The Digital Age has brought about many changes in the way economies, and we as people, work. Access to computers and mobile devices has made it possible to do work from anywhere with an Internet connection. While the eight-hour workday is not yet a relic of the past, shared workplaces are making a case for the idea that it’s not how long you spend at work, but what you accomplish during your time spent working that matters.
Featured photo credit: Le Meridien Barcelona—Le Méridien Hub Seating –...via farm6.staticflickr.com
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