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The Communal Office: Benefits of Sharing a Workspace

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.

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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.

Communication

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.

Collaboration

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.

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Feedback

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.

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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.

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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.

Conclusion

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 – Communal Table / LeMeridien Hotels and Resorts via farm6.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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