Suzanne Lucas

Moving Up to a Coworking Space

When your organization is small enough and the work can be done remotely, it might not seem worth dragging your employees to one central location — especially considering the cost of leasing a private office.

And, conveniently, employees generally love telecommuting. Globally, 70% of professionals work from home at least one day per week, and 20% work remotely regularly.

That said, only interacting with your colleagues through a screen can get a little lonely, and there are some real advantages to spending time with other humans. Is it time for your business to explore the benefits of coworking spaces?

These modern, meticulously designed shared workspaces are on the rise. Here are some compelling reasons coworking might be worth exploring.

Other People Are Good for Our Health

Are your employees happy and productive in their home offices? Are you sure?

One of the great things about working from home is that there’s no one to bother you. But one of the terrible things about working from home is that there’s no one to bother you.

Loneliness, in fact, takes a very real toll on the heart — and can even be deadly. This has been well documented for older people: Social isolation can lead to “high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death,” according to the National Institute on Aging.

Traditionally, younger employees almost always got their start working alongside more seasoned colleagues in the workplace. In the transition to more remote work, though, some of the employee health problems associated with seclusion may begin making an appearance at younger and younger ages. Some mental health problems can be exacerbated by isolation as well, and one recent study found that remote workers are more likely to be disengaged. Moving your business to a coworking space gives employees regular interactions with others and protects them from the worst of workplace social isolation.

The Benefits of Coworking Spaces

Being around other people has benefits on its own, but coworking also brings other advantages to the table. Consider networking. It isn’t just for your employees’ sakes — it can help you find new employees, new vendors, new clients and new ideas. When you grab a cup of coffee in the kitchen, you can chat about your work, and someone new may have a great solution to a problem.

Coworking can also remove some of the challenges common to home offices. Not only does it separate employees from the distraction of the dog or the neighbor that mows his lawn incessantly, but it creates a clearer divide between an employee’s “work” and “life.” That’s a separation that’s difficult to achieve when employees work and sleep in the same room.

Plus, getting out of the house is an excuse to get a little dressed up. No one wants to be the only person in the coworking space wearing pajama bottoms, and a change of pace (and clothes) might encourage clearer thinking. It’s been argued that wearing formal business attire can actually improve your creativity and long-term strategizing.

How to Adapt to a Shared Space

All of those benefits sound worth a commute? Just keep in mind that transitioning from remote work to a shared space brings with it some fundamental changes to the way you run your business.

Depending on the shared space, you may be “hot desking” — taking whatever seat is available when you come in — or you may receive an assigned cubicle or small private office with locking storage. Regardless, you’ll probably want to focus on going as paperless as possible. That way, employees working in various shifting locations can all share documents and files easily.

You’ll also have to get used to scheduling in advance. If you want a client to come in or you have a big project where you need to spread out, you’ll have to reserve the conference room ahead of time. Even if you’re the CEO of your company, you can’t pull rank on someone who doesn’t work for you.

One common coworking concern is privacy. It’s one thing to have the person sitting next to you working on a similar project; it’s quite another to have that person be your competitor. But with proper computer security, a good VPN and a few commonsense habits (such as locking your laptop when you run to the restroom), you don’t need to worry. Coworking spaces generally have conference rooms or private offices that you can use for critical phone calls or video conferences that can help keep your data safe, even working in a shared environment.

If you’re still unsure, you can always give coworking a try and see how it affects your employees’ productivity, engagement and well-being. Keep in mind that some people may only want to work in a shared space when necessary, while others will prefer it to their home environment. Work together to figure out the best way to take advantage of the flexibility that coworking spaces have to offer.

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