Coworking is Changing How We Think of Company Culture
Contributed by Richard Overmyer (Kiln Coworking)
Coworking spaces are not a new trend for startups and small businesses. Many billion-dollar companies grew out of the incubator culture of communal offices. However, it’s this exact culture that makes many new startups hesitant about leveraging the benefits of coworking spaces. Company culture is an essential part of any business; successful founders want employees to collaborate and facilitate the open exchange of ideas. The question is: does a coworking space lead to distractions?
Coworking is a concept of sharing physical business space instead of a traditional office. This arrangement could include teams from the same company, individuals representing different companies, and freelancers all in the same office. The tie that unites all coworking professionals is their use of the same physical office space and communal amenities. The idea for coworking began as an option to save money on office space, but this shared environment quickly presented many unique opportunities for businesses to grow and innovate. Business cultures that are stagnating can find new life. Their employees can connect with professionals from other companies. People exchange ideas and perspectives. Interactions that would not usually take place in a traditional office building happen at coworking facilities, not just at the local Starbucks. Shared offices became communities.
What most business owners forget is, as shared by Director of Communications and Strategy at Kiln Coworking, Brighton Youd, “Building a company culture is the same in a coworking space as it is at any other company. However, the right space becomes a catalyst, expediting the growth of your company culture.” The many cultural benefits of collaborative workspaces are available to everyone who walks into such a building. They will see a beehive of business activity. The workplace atmosphere in a functional coworking space is high-energy and contagious. When in the right space, these benefits are great for the personal and professional development of freelancers and work teams that constitute the community.
Advantages of Coworking
Today’s companies are going through a digital transformation; companies are redesigning their work environments and cultures so they will appeal to their employees. Travel is more prevalent than in the past, as is telecommuting on a full-time or part-time basis. Companies may use flexible work teams and other arrangements to accomplish their work. All this can occur by utilizing digital tools such as video chat, shared digital workspaces, email, text, and other technology solutions to keep employees connected, and encourage workers to exchange ideas and information in real-time.
Ultimately, coworking spaces allow growing businesses access to these same perks by leveraging the buying power of their tenants. The shared resources provide numerous advantages to startups in a coworking space. The most significant advantage of coworking offices is that the employer does not have to invest in a facility’s upkeep. No need to sign a one-year or longer lease and make a commitment to keep your team based in an office or storefront location. Coworking allows companies to be flexible as they grow and change. If you need more space as you bring on more people, you can rent more desk space. Most coworking spaces can take on the burden of expansion on behalf of their occupants.
When coworkers aren’t located on the same floor, or even in a separate building, they are less likely to develop an insular mentality and avoid ideas from other parts of the company. That’s because the company is a dispersed entity, with team members sharing their insights from separate locations. All workers in the company culture are connected by technology, not by space. If someone overhears you discussing your latest proposal, he or she might be inclined to share information. This exchange might happen in the professional communal space more than it would in a coffee shop with public wi-fi access. New ideas and perspectives can help your employees find innovative ways to forward company growth.
Most facilities offer access to working people according to extended hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. This arrangement enables people who service clients in a 24-7 digital environment to get their work done before, during, or after their travel plans and to work around local events, as well. Preparation might include access to a computer, fax, copier, printer, and the ability to hold a meeting with a client all in one place. Employees who work with employers, suppliers, and customers in different locations throughout the workday or the workweek could use a facility as their home base, without ever having to establish a long-term office.
How to Leverage the Advantages of Coworking
We understand that your startup will want to break down barriers to communication and strengthen the company culture right from the start. One option is to knock down walls in an existing office building. Another option is to send employees to the nearest shared workplace facilities. The latter option is available immediately; the former option takes more time and money to execute. What the 2020 startup serves to gain is a workspace that is scalable to the needs of their business, which could change weekly.
Just like when your startup adds employees, you can add more work locations to your company’s existing infrastructure. According to Brighton Youd, “In a coworking space, your community grows to include people outside of your specific business, which means it is critical to consider the culture of the community as a whole.” If you allow your employees the flexibility to work in a communal facility, they begin to form their relationships organically, and there are many spillover benefits for your company.
It’s important to emphasize that a company won’t necessarily improve its prevailing cultural norms just because the owners provide opportunities for collaboration. In life, all employees will meet new people if they are not sitting in the same cubicle all day, but they can also do this by going on service calls or by attending networking events. Your company will recoup more benefits of shared workplaces when you encourage employees to bring ideas to the table that they source in different settings. They should feel comfortable introducing unique perspectives to your company’s problems. This emphasis includes getting employees to buy into their projects and share information. Top-level managers must be willing to accept new ideas from everywhere in the organization to fully leverage the benefits of coworking culture.
Try It on for Size
According to a Community Associate at Kiln, Anne Olsen, “A business owner can focus on business operations, while the coworking space can naturally help build a sense of company culture and assist with employee satisfaction and wellbeing.” Basically, coworking spaces provide the foundation of company culture. The daily work life of employees will include connections to people inside and outside of their company. Take time to find the right coworking space for the culture you’re looking to grow. Making this investment allows your employees to develop a sense of identity and feel more content with their jobs without your company having to provide overhead costs for the workplace. This flexible working model constitutes a more economical way to do business, while promoting high productivity and more significant innovation.
Richard Overmyer is a copywriter and outreach specialist for Kiln, a coworking space promoting business growth in the Salt Lake Area. At Kiln, Richard enjoys working closely with growing businesses to discuss entrepreneurship and successful business growth. www.kiln.co