Joining a Coworking Space, what are the benefits?
From personal experience, freelancing can be a very isolating and potentially lonely place; many days are spent working long hours on projects and commissions alone without any social interaction. Humans are social beings and interacting with others has a positive effect on our mental and physical health, lowering levels of stress, depression and anxiety. Of course, we can sustain our normal functioning levels with short periods of time in isolation, but to increase productivity and efficiency we need to be socialising.
From this desire to connect working professionals, the growth of coworking spaces has dramatically risen over the last five years crossing the pond from the US, into London and spreading throughout major cities in the UK. WeWork is one of the most notable and recognisable companies to specialise in coworking spaces globally, designed for freelancers, start-ups and entrepreneurs. Perhaps now recognised as a brand in its own right, WeWork is renowned for its contemporary interior style, wellness perks and flexibility in working arrangements, as standard they even offer prosecco on tap!
A sense of community is a key benefit that coworking spaces strive to promote. Spaces offer a fluid approach to working, often removing the ‘fixed desk’ style of traditional offices and instead opting for multifunctional areas that allow for movement and interaction with other members. Users of coworking spaces can effectively choose on a daily basis whether they would like to work at a desk, in the onsite coffee shop or in comfy lounge areas. It promotes choice, flexibility and a constant opportunity for interaction and social working.
However, to be social doesn’t necessarily mean meeting friends for a coffee or drinks at the pub; working in a room of other likeminded people with small interactions throughout the working day is a valuable way to be social. This is a form of ‘passive’ networking, meaning you don’t set out to meet new people and form connections but that they grow organically with fellow members.
Whether interaction between members occurs or not, being in an often more relaxed environment surrounded by peers at an equal stage of business can promote a sense of support, particularly for creatives, where traditional formalities of the corporate world are diminished. This in turn generates a natural way to network, share ideas, generate feedback and start building relationships that have the potential to lead to member collaborations.
Opened in 2015, Soho Works is one of these highly sort after spaces, designed to cater for creatives, it offers a photography studio, 3D printer and a library. As part of the Soho House brand this space is, as expected, driven by detail, and it is clear time has been spent to make the space functional, flexible and inviting for all of its members in order for them to work at their best creative capacity.
Looking professional is often a big worry for start-ups and entrepreneurs, especially if working from home and trying to meet new clients. Almost all spaces allow members to book a choice of private meeting rooms to formally host clients, but also offer the flexibility of providing social meeting spaces that are within a working environment. Another added benefit is the option to register your company address to your coworking premises, a bonus for those solo entrepreneurs who do not yet have a permanent or professional base. It is an attractive way to begin building a formal image of your company.
Further benefitting the concept of community and social interaction, workplace wellness is a hugely important consideration for coworking networks in order to attract new members. Not only are the majority of spaces open 24 hours a day, offering complete flexibility in working hours, but they embrace modern day awareness that good physical and mental wellness is a crucial factor in improving workplace performance.
For starters, the energy and atmosphere of a coworking space should be an inspiring one, so that any hours spent at a desk are motivating and productive. Yet to address overall wellness and tempt us away from endless hours at a laptop, many membership options will include gym access, or exercise classes such as yoga or HIIT, with some stretching to treatment rooms, spa facilities and cinema evenings. The aim, to address our currently overlooked approach to an equal work-life balance, and achieve a happier and more sustainable attitude towards working.
Every coworking group has its own unique niche, to target individual needs and create a more focussed group of likeminded members. The Ministry offers its users an on-site recording studio and tequila bar, whilst ‘room service’ for your desk is a benefit to clients of Mortimer House. Female only memberships are on offer at the All Bright Fitzrovia, whereas Uncommon London provides a space decked floor to ceiling with plants and pumps calming scents through the air. One other notable mention is OneCowork Marina, which is situated directly on Barcelona’s beautiful beachfront.
You name it, there will be a hub out there to offer any perk you could wish for, eachcompeting for the very best in benefits and facilities to be set apart from the rest. Could there be an argument here however, that one day these perks could simply distract from the original intent of a coworking space, a space to assist professionals in successfully growing a business and career? Whatever your stance, it’s tricky to deny that most of these spaces are incredibly enticing!
Popularity of coworking is continually on the rise, and the massive variety in membership options seems to cater for the needs of everyone. With hubs popping up in further reaching areas of the UK, and the rest of the world, we can be sure that for every business out there the opportunity to explore the benefits of coworking will be just around the corner. It is clear that this way of working is so far removed from dull, carpet-stained offices of the past, and it seems to be only just getting started. Can there really be any downside?