In recent years, the coworking market has boomed. By 2024, it is estimated that there will be over five million people using coworking spaces worldwide. On top of that, over 80% of people report that they are happier since joining one. Coworking spaces represent an ideal workplace for many people as an accessible environment with a range of features that promote well-being.
With this in mind, organizations may risk employees not coming to the office if they don’t provide access to the same kinds of amenities that have benefited coworking spaces. To stay agile in today’s world of hybrid working, businesses should consider replicating the atmosphere, community, and style of work that has made coworking spaces so popular.
The popularity of coworking spaces
Organizations have a lot to learn from the popularity of coworking spaces. The autonomy and flexibility they foster, the types of communities they facilitate, and the importance of their personality are all key factors that impact coworking satisfaction rates. If individual companies can replicate these qualities within their own spaces, they’ll increase employee retention and boost employee happiness and attendance in the office. This is crucial in a time when many workers are reluctant to return to the office and may seem to prefer working from home.
With more and more people leaving their jobs in search of roles that promote employee well-being, the link between employee preferences and retention rates cannot be ignored.
For example, 71% of employees expect their workplace to have a flexible design. Workers will likely look for other opportunities if this expectation of flexibility isn’t met. Adopting coworking features means providing employees with the types of flexible spaces and atmospheres they want to work in––which can profoundly affect engagement and enthusiasm to work.
Since we know that flexibility is key for a modern workspace, let’s examine the kinds of coworking elements organizations should focus on to improve their offices.
The autonomy of flexible working
Due to employee demand and changing norms, today, over 67% of businesses now offer some level of flexible work. This term refers to a model where people work at times that best suit them, rather than sticking to a rigid 9-to-5. Overall, flexible working gives the individual autonomy over completing projects around their other life commitments.
The physical design and layout of coworking spaces often contribute to their strong sense of autonomy and productivity. With unique rooms dedicated to quiet work and collaboration, it’s up to individuals where and how they spend their time. Without designated desks (as might be found in a traditional office), employees feel free to collaborate and connect with others. Hot desking is a great way for organizations to implement this sense of freedom, as 73% of employees feel more satisfied with this kind of model as opposed to a traditional desk setup.
Coworking spaces are notable facilitators of flexible working by allowing people to accommodate work into their own schedules within an optimized office space. The focus shifts to how much or which work gets done, rather than for how many hours you sit working at a desk.
Organizations don’t have to keep their doors open 24/7 to reap the benefits of flexible working arrangements. Instead, they should help to manage employees' workday as a whole, not just their hours spent in a physical office. By empowering people to connect with their peers, effectively manage their hybrid schedules, and navigate their office days efficiently, they will experience more meaningful workdays. With a sense of autonomy, flexible workers are 20% more likely to be engaged at work, which can increase company revenue by up to 43%.
Workplace experience tools are invaluable when creating a coworking-inspired, flexible model that places worker autonomy first. Workday planning and meeting solutions give employees control over their time whilst optimizing how they use the office. Without the burdens of administrative and organizational stress, employees can work more freely.
A new type of community
80% of coworking space users state that having other people to interact with is the biggest benefit of using the space. With this in mind, coworking spaces have clearly been optimized to create these moments of authentic connection. These choices are characterized by open-plan layouts and communal kitchens that provide areas for spontaneous conversation and idea exchanges.
Many coworking users report collaborating with people they wouldn’t have previously, describing a new kind of working model in which people exchange favors to further business growth. For instance, one person may offer some free marketing services to another who may, in turn, take a look over their accounts. This strengthens community bonds and benefits the individual experiences of people working together in these spaces.
Organizations can replicate this authentic and productive connection within their own offices. On a fundamental level, the key is to have spaces for both isolated works and for collaborative meeting sessions. In that sense, it’s important to consider and implement the values that underpin the physical spaces themselves.
Over 17,000 coworking spaces have signed the Coworking Manifesto, an online document that articulates the importance of community, collaboration, and learning without corporate hierarchy. While it may not be realistic for companies to abandon their current structure, ensuring autonomy and trust exist on every level is key.
Companies can create a community-first culture (as is found in coworking spaces) by giving individuals the agency to decide on their own best ways of working. Managers should allow teams to coexist and work in tandem when problem-solving. All employees should be trusted to figure out and develop their own structures and working project processes alongside their colleagues. Reducing the number of necessary approvals and sign-offs is also key to democratizing the office.
The distinct personalities of coworking spaces
In one study, people reported that they enjoyed working spaces because they felt like they could be themselves at work. The distinct personality, culture, and values found in coworking spaces are one of the biggest reasons they are so popular: they facilitate a sense of freedom of expression. An office space with a clear personality sets workers at ease and makes them excited to be a part of something they can relate to. NeueHouse Coworking Space in California is a great example of this. Designed for creatives, it is heavily inspired by the Hollywood landscape and profiles inspirational figures and ideas throughout.
Coworking spaces can be everything from elevated, exclusivity spaces that create a sense of importance to relaxed areas that facilitate casual collaboration above all. Many try to replicate the coffee culture so popular in cafés, with spaces designed to promote high-energy work and connection. Rooms optimized for brainstorming with round tables, sofas, and splashes of color are great examples of this.
When creating an office space with personality, organizations should stay true to their own values and identity. For example, a forward-thinking, innovative organization should implement the latest tech to streamline processes for employees. If it’s a social office, companies should create spaces for connection and hold events. A health-oriented organization might consider creating areas such as a dedicated company gym or a meditation room. Ultimately, companies should use every aspect of the office, from furniture to layout, to create a distinct, personality-driven atmosphere.
The future of the office
Organizations should initiate a few key changes to compete with the coworking space's popularity and increase employee satisfaction and retention. They must ensure that their brand values are instilled throughout the office, allowing employees to feel a real sense of affinity with where they work. They must optimize these spaces and the employee workday to allow as much autonomy as possible while creating equal communities among teams. By fostering an office that supports a flexible model––in which employees decide how, when, and where they work best alone and within teams––companies can capitalize on everything that coworking spaces have to offer.
Mapiq accelerates and optimizes the flexible working model from within the office. Employees can easily plan and control their workdays with room management, desk booking, and colleague collaboration––reducing the hassle of manual work while optimizing connections. From here, employees are free to be as productive as possible and find more meaning in their work. Learn more about Mapiq and how it improves can improve your employee experience.