Why Coworking Is The "Go To" Solution

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I was recently inspired by Seth Godin's blog post "Goodbye to the office," and decided to tackle the mystery of #7 - The need people have for someplace to go. The way people work has changed dramatically

These days 80% of what a person needs to work is found on a laptop and cell phone. The other 20% is where the need for #7, as stated by Seth, lies - people need "someplace to go". The types of people looking for this 20% includes startups, freelancers, entrepreneurs, consultants, small groups etc, people that are not tied to or required to go into their office, at least not consistently. Often times these people cannot afford office space based off the traditional model which includes 1+ years of commitment to a lease along with costly overhead and other daily costs.  I would argue that it's not the end of office space rather a shift away from traditional office space.

So what are the modern options available to these mobile professionals?

  • Work from home
  • Work out of coffee shops
  • Work from shared/coworking offices

Why working from home falls short

Working from home is the easiest initial solution for workspace.  However, it is also because of the "working from home" option that the second two choices exist. So why not just stay at home and work from its comfort all the time?  Coworking is a huge trend popping up all over the world that addresses this exact question.

Why do people need somewhere else to go? Ask around and you'll find the three most common reasons are:

  1. There are too many distractions at home and its hard to stay focused.
  2. People feel like they never stop working because they are always at home which blurs the line between one's personal and professional life.
  3. People need a place to meet with clients. For startups and entrepreneurs especially, coffee shops/their house doesn't provide them with the professional meeting environment they are looking for when trying to establish and convey a professional image to their clients.
  4. And the most common reason... The first thing I hear from people who come looking for coworking space:
  5. They NEED to get out of the house and talk to people or else they'll go crazy!

Why Coworking?

SolutionCoworking spaces provide the 3 essential factors that address all of the above problems.

  • Professional workspace
  • Meeting/conference rooms
  • Human interaction

There is something to be said about being amongst a group of other working professionals and an increase in motivation. People like having a designated workspace because it puts them into "work mode."   Even in a coworking environment where people from various industries aggregate and work on very different projects, it works.  The point is, everyone is working and as a result, creating a "work mode" atmosphere - the switch is ON.  The additional benefit of having a designated "work" space is that it physically separates and draws a clear distinction between work and home.  Think about that next time you get home from work and plop down on the couch ... it feels good!

And so it comes down to the human need for interaction. It's amazing how above all else, this is the driving force behind the coworking movement.  Next time your walking past a coffee shop during the week, take a look inside ... coffee shops are not designed to be workspaces and yet you'll find that people are cramming into corners and using any available surfaces to work on - for hours! Why? Because being at home gets lonely and monotonous and makes people feel like if they don't get out they'll go crazy!  Interaction is, by far, my personal favorite and most rewarding part of coworking.  On a daily basis I see people, who work in completely different industries, interacting with each other, helping each other, posing questions and offering each other advice etc.. The cross pollination of ideas occurs naturally and creates an office ecosystem unlike any other.

There are also other work styles that I find to be interesting that align with many of the motivations present behind coworking.  Two of my favorites are Workshifting and Workplace Autonomy based of the ROWE movement (thanks for the tip @knightcourt777).

What is Workshifting?

"The essence of workshifting is being small, mobile, and self contained -- the ability to work anywhere there's a table and wifi."

Sample topics of discussion on Workshifting.com, which features tips, reviews, and opinions about the world of Web commuting include:

What is the Workplace Autonomy & ROWE movement?

"Where people are paid for productivity, not time spent 'at work"

The Workplace Autonomy movement is based on ROWE which stands for Results-Only Work Environment.

About ROWE

Results-Only Work Environment is a management strategy where employees are evaluated on performance, not presence. In a ROWE, people focus on results and only results – increasing the organization’s performance while creating the right climate for people to manage all the demands in their lives . . . including work.

In a Results-Only company or department, employees can do whatever they want whenever they want, as long as the work gets done. No more pointless meetings, racing to get in at 9:00 am, or begging for permission to watch your kid play soccer. No more cramming errands into the weekend, or waiting until retirement to take up your hobbies again. You make the decisions about what you do and where you do it, every minute of every day.

ROWE in Real Life:

In "Experiments in workplace autonomy" you can read about how "CEO Jeff Gunther launched an experiment in autonomy at Meddius, one of a trio of companies he runs.  He turned the company, which creates computer software and hardware to help hospitals integrate their information systems, into a ROWE—a results-only work environment."

 

About the Author: Evona Niewiadomska is the Events and Digital Media Manager at Workbar.  As of January 2013 she is an independent Digital Media & Design Creative with a specialty for infographic design and social media strategy.  Check out her website, evonawiktoria.com or contact her via email evona.wiktoria@gmail.com or twitter @evonawiktoria.

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