People Really Do Thrive In Coworking Spaces
A friend recently sent me an article that originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Harvard Business Review. In it, author Shonagh Rae explained that there is something special about coworking. She described a study that revealed some surprising findings and I thought I’d share those findings with you.
People who use coworking spaces see their work as meaningful. The people we surveyed reported finding meaning in the fact that they could bring their whole selves to work. Because there is little direct competition or internal politics, they don’t feel they have to put on a work persona to fit in. Working amidst people doing different kinds of work can also make one’s own work identity stronger.
Second, meaning may also come from working in a culture where it is the norm to help each other out, and coworking presents many opportunities to do so; the variety of workers in a space means that coworkers have unique skill sets that they can provide to other community members.
Lastly, meaning may also be derived from a more concrete source: The social mission inherent in the Coworking Manifesto, an online document signed by members of more than 1,700 coworking spaces. It clearly articulates the values that the coworking movement aspires to, including community, collaboration, learning, and sustainability.
They have more job control. Coworking spaces are normally accessible 24/7. People can decide whether to put in a long day when they have a deadline or want to show progress, or can decide to take a long break in the middle of the day to go to the gym. They can choose whether they want to work in a quiet space so they can focus, or in a more collaborative space with shared tables where interaction is encouraged. They can even decide to work from home, without repercussion, if they need to meet a repairperson or deal with a family member need.
They feel part of a community. Connections with others are a big reason why people pay to work in a communal space, as opposed to working from home for free or renting a nondescript office. Each coworking space has its own vibe, and the managers of each space go to great lengths to cultivate a unique experience that meets the needs of their respective members.
Importantly, however, socializing isn’t compulsory or forced. Members can choose when and how to interact with others. They are more likely to enjoy discussions over coffee in the café because they went to the café for that purpose – and when they want to be left alone elsewhere in the building, they are. And while the research found that some people interact with fellow coworkers much less than others, they still felt a strong sense of identity with the community. Researchers believe this comes from coworkers knowing there is the potential for interactions when they desire or need them.
Read the entire article here.