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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 December 5, 2018

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

How do they do it?

By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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3. Demand Learning from Your Team

CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

“The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

“We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

  • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
  • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
  • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
  • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
  • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
  • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

  • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
  • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
  • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
  • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
  • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

    “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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  • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
  • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
  • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
  • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

10. Empower Your Employees

Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

11. Nurture Your Company Culture

Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

Be a Leader, Not a Boss

Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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