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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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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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