The labor market remains tight, and businesses are turning to creative solutions to find skilled workers. A potential, growing option is coworking. Charge Spot defines coworking as a space where freelancers, startups, and now larger businesses get together and share a workspace.

Coworking will continue to grow more popular as the traditional salaried worker gives way to the independent freelancer, and this new working model can be highly beneficial for even established businesses. Here are some of the benefits of this new approach, as well as some ideas for how businesses can adapt parts of the coworking culture.

Creating a New Community

Businesses may be leery of sharing a coworking space with other businesses and perhaps even competitors, but the Harvard Business Review points out that this sort of shared space can create a unique, positive working culture. Workers from different businesses have an opportunity to help each other on similar projects, which foster cooperation and lessens ugly internal company politics.

Companies talk about the importance of diversity in the workplace because they know that different races and genders can approach the same problem from different perspectives. The same applies to coworking spaces, as workers are paired alongside a diverse array of freelancers outside of their traditional line of work. A coworking space is a freer space, and freedom breeds innovation. The result is a stronger company culture which is more innovative and willing to cooperate.

Accountability

If you run a cozy, small startup where everyone knows each other, it can be difficult to work and hold yourself accountable in that environment. Just take the afternoon off, what is the big harm? We’re all friends here.

But in a coworking environment where you are placed alongside strangers, there is additional motivation to look your best. Your business can see what other productive business do in their day to day lives and copy their examples. Coworking spaces can give your workers the freedom to take some time off to handle some personal errands, yet also provide structure which ensures that they reach their peak capacity in the office.

Easy Expansion

Successful small businesses can face challenges as they look to expand. They may not be easily able to afford a lease for an office, or may face difficulties hiring regular employees in this job market. A coworking space is generally cheaper month to month compared to an office lease as you are sharing the space with other businesses, and is more suited for freelancers. A quick Google search in your area should easily locate short-term coworking spaces where you can set up with minimal moving hassle and no need to buy office equipment and furniture.

Bringing Coworking to your Business

Coworking spaces have some downsides compared to a traditional office. They appear less professional to visiting clients, and may not be suitable if your business handles sensitive information. But even businesses which may be too large for such a space can try to copy some of the benefits of coworking spaces.

For example, businesses should encourage freelancers who normally work at home or a café to congregate at a coworking space, and business leaders should visit coworking spaces to see how they work. However, any business leader who visits a space and becomes convinced that open-plan offices are a good idea despite all evidence to the contrary is completely missing how these spaces are beneficial.

Coworking spaces work because they offer flexibility, structure, and a chance for workers to network and learn new ideas from people they might otherwise never meet. Give workers space and support to reach their true potential without dealing with petty office gossip and meaningless make-work, and they will be more productive than before.

Aaron Lee
Aaron Lee is a serial entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. Since the age of 17, he has started and sold five businesses before creating Dash Serviced Suites--Hong Kong’s fastest growing asset-light, tech-enabled, serviced apartment community operating over 100 apartments. Aaron focuses on investing in technology to build industry disrupting startups.