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In cities, suburbs and small towns alike, professionals are ditching traditional office spaces in favor of co-working, but some professionals are skeptical of the shift as this movement disrupts long-held business norms.
Within certain fields, co-working has always been popular, but within the last five years the concept has taken hold across industries. Co-working today is booming as a new generation of entrepreneurs, consultants, freelancers, and corporate organizations re-think the overhead costs of business and the value of collaborative work.
Version 1.0 of co-working manifested in shared office buildings, reservable library meeting rooms, and coffee shops. Today’s version 2.0 is more intentional. We are seeing an increased number of co-working spaces designed to truly meet the needs of the diverse professionals they serve. These co-working spaces are technologically-advanced, architecturally arresting, and include everything from free coffee and printing facilities to full service concierge services, and even fulfillment centers to help e-commerce companies. There is truly a place for everyone at a co-working space.
Here are a few common misconceptions about co-working to look out for, so you don’t inadvertently discount an opportunity that could bring value to you and your business.
Misconception: “Co-working is only for startups and entrepreneurs.”
Truth: Yes, co-working facilities are great for startups because they reduce overhead costs, but startups are not the primary users. Wework, undisputedly the largest organization operating in the co-working space, cites that the fastest growing segment of their business is members who work for large corporations. Established smaller businesses not wanting to dedicate resources to manage their own facilities also represent a growing segment of users.
Misconception: “Only extroverted people use co-working spaces.”
Truth: Every co-working facility is different and some are designed to facilitate socialization more than others. Some level of common space is to be expected, but some co-working spaces are designed for independent work. While some spaces offer open office space, others provide private offices.
Regardless of industry, professionals may be drawn to a space that offers more personal autonomy and creativity in their work. In fact, according to a 2015 study published in the Harvard Business Review, this sense of autonomy and the space for personal expression are some of the things that make co-working professionals thrive.
Misconception: “I’m not a solo entrepreneur so co-working won’t work for my business.”
Truth: It is true that co-working can help combat the isolation experienced by those who work alone. Harvard Business Review cites co-working facilities as one way to combat the growing “loneliness epidemic” attributed to rise of the gig economy. However, the co-working model works for businesses of all sizes and is flexible enough for independent workers, small businesses, and satellite locations for larger corporations.
In an industry report by JLL “Workspace, Reworked: Ride the Wave of Tech-Driven Change,” they predict that flexible space will comprise up to 30 percent of corporate real estate portfolios by 2030.
Misconception: “My company has an office so co-working isn’t relevant to me.”
Truth: Co-working spaces also appeal to professionals in more traditional offices who believe in the benefits of a change of scenery. This could mean employees joining a co-working space outside of their corporate offices or adapting the current office into a more flexible, communal environment.
Co-working spaces can also help businesses through difficult transitions in staffing, location, and renovations. Companies use co-working spaces to host business meetings with visiting partners. They can also provide a work space solution for short-term employees and contractors or vendors who need a place to work when in town.
Misconception: “People working at co-working facilities share a job.”
Truth: The familiarity that builds between professionals working in close contact can lead to synergies and opportunities for joint business ventures. This is sometimes the case in co-working spaces. But, working together professionally is not always the purpose of co-working. Unlike traditional job sharing, professionals in a co-working environment are often working on different projects or even in different industries.
In any work environment, people build camaraderie with coworkers as their work relationships grow. A co-working environment is no different — bonds can form between professionals working in different industries. Co-location of individuals with different areas of professional expertise creates an environment where the flow of best practices and information can seamlessly transfer across industry lines. This knowledge transfer has the potential to organically bring insights and innovation to disparate fields.
As you consider the most productive and profitable environment for your business, consider co-working. Whether you are a remote worker, a freelancer, or have a traditional office job, there are benefits you may not have previously considered.
This post originally appeared on EllevateNetwork.com.
Tamara Schwarting is the CEO of 1628 LTD., a curated co-working community of independent professionals and the professionally independent in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is also an executive level consultant in business processes and supply chain purchasing.