If you live in a happening city, perhaps you have seen an influx of ‘co-working’ spaces emerge. Yes, it offers useful advantages to freelance workers whilst offering them a cuppa on the side. But is it anything more than a trendy fad?
According to recent research on the topic… yes it is. While they vary in their degree of quirky designs and unique arty features, all of them share a few key mutual factors which make them the perfect place to spark some ideas and get some work done.
Menlo Innovations, a software development company, have had visits from all kinds of companies, coming to check out their not-so traditional approach to the work environment. They put programmers in pairs that rotate every five days, encouraging collaboration. To add another layer to this concept, the company have expanded their office to allow for entrepreneurs and start-ups to work alongside their office employees. The idea is to make the office floor a breeding ground for connections and networking that bring innovation.
As you may have seen, such concepts are taking flight well beyond just Menlo. Whether a co-working space, or an established company that’s incorporating elements of the concept into their office, the idea seems to be gathering much success.
According to researchers from the University of Michigan’s Steven M. Ross School of Business, they might be on to something. The team spent the last four years studying the office innovation and found two key benefits to the co-working experience.
Roughly, what it boils down to is flexibility and autonomy. Individuals can work independently, whilst still being connected to a meaningful community. The appeal is quite easy to see; you can work when, where and how you like. You can be as social or as reserved as you like, and it’s a much more of a focussed environment than your average starbucks. The co-working space is also much more ‘employee’ oriented than the traditional office, with some shared offices allowing guests to give active input into the design of the space.
These flexible characteristics have been linked to positive outcomes in the workplace. Thus, more companies are embracing flexible work schedules and collaborative work spaces.
Another key that researchers found in the success of the co-working space is freedom. Freedom to be yourself in a community of like-minded people. It brings together an alliance of people from all different industries, offering each other insights rather than competition. With such a sense of freedom, ideas are shared more freely which makes room for a more productive, proactive work space. One with less limits and boundaries.
Could this be the future of the office? It seems like the co-working environment has a bright productive future ahead of itself.
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