What is coworking?
Coworking has exploded in recent years with most towns and cities in the UK now offering some type of shared workspace.
You might imagine coworking sites are made up of bearded hipsters who run pop up food stalls, or geeky tech dudes wearing the same t-shirt for 9 days on the trot. In some cases, you’d be right. But crucially, you’d also be wrong.
Coworking is a democratic space to grow your business, get support and share ideas with other users. Initially the preserve of the creative industries, now blue chip companies are getting in on the act. Realising that flexible working in this way can kick-start new projects and inspire their workforce. Traditional investors too are seeing the benefits. Rubbing shoulders with entrepreneurs and independent professionals gives the potential for access to the ‘next big thing’.
Space is also a major factor for the growth in coworking. Finding the motivation to get your head down isn’t always easy when you’re working out of your spare bedroom. Distractions can affect productivity. Coworking offers all the advantages of working in an office. You’ll have desk space, connectivity and human contact but still get something done. Most will offer zoned areas for networking and sharing ideas and frustrations. As well as quieter spots for getting your head down. Increasingly, they’ll feature a café or lounge area for all important downtime.
Usually available on a membership model, cowork spaces provide flexible access and all you’d find in a traditional office environment, without the overheads.
In a cowork you can be focussed and driven and really appreciate the value of what you do. We all know that isn’t always possible when you’re looking at an unmown lawn or a pile of ironing. Having control over your work/life balance also helps to create discipline. Structure is good, particularly when it’s on your own terms.
So what is coworking space? Inclusive. They don’t concentrate on one particular type of industry or service and are increasingly, ‘curated’. Ensuring that the spread of skills offers maximum opportunity for collaboration. Even if you physically make something – rare though that seems in our service-based economy – you still need to do admin, have a marketing strategy and push for sales. Evidence from cowork members show that this diversity makes it easier to celebrate your business identity unencumbered by the often competitive nature of workplace politics that you’d find in a traditional office. You’ll get the opportunity to explain what you do to a host of different people, helping you to gain clarity on your business goals and objectives.
A sense of community is central to the coworking ideal and in a shared environment it’s much more likely that members will use their unique skills to advise or benefit others. With no direct competition it’s easier to be magnanimous and this culture of community and collaboration creates a positive camaraderie that working from home or the local café can lack.
Connecting, whether it be through networking, training or even over coffee, will strengthen a worker and ultimately their business.