Over the past decade, many entrepreneurs, business professionals, and creatives alike have been enticed by the perks of a co-working environment. Of many other benefits, co-working spaces offer an office-like atmosphere that can be hard to receive from working at the local coffee shop or your apartment. For a long time, coworking spaces have mainly attracted small business owners and creatives who are interested in renting an office space for themselves or their employees.
One of the main perks of working in these environments is that they foster a sense of community and professionalism for working people either without central office space or opting to work away from their office. With many different types of professionals choosing the co-working environment, these shared office environments seem to offer a promising shift towards collective professionalism while still allowing for individual identity.
However, people remain skeptical of the future success of co-working spaces as many employers believe in the importance of management by presentism, the idea that managers need to see their workers actually accomplishing their work.
Unavoidably, once the global pandemic swept through the nation professionals who were able to work remotely began working from home. As this happened, co-working spaces were out of commission for an indefinite period of time. Once lockdown orders began to ease and offices slowly began to ask their employees to come back to the office, the idea and experience of working remotely have shifted the way people perceive the necessity of office environments.
Though it was not the case for every working American, many people found comfort in the ability to work remotely as they realized the capabilities of virtual work. Despite being a luxury, the notion of working from wherever became relevant in many professionals’ lives. Yet, remote work at home does not quite mimic the office environment.
The opposition between enjoying the flexibility of virtual out of office work and the importance of a professional or motivating environment provides for the growing need for co-working environments. Though many entrepreneurs and small business owners have already hopped on the wagon, co-working spaces now should appeal to most professionals. In a post-pandemic world, co-working spaces have the potential to pose as the intersection between community, professionalism, and flexibility.
In a Harvard Business Review report, they discuss the role of workplace identity in a co-working atmosphere. In collaboration with WeWork, one of the largest co-working chains in the world, to assess the impact that co-working spaces have on professional identities and their organizations. The results suggest that members of WeWork found that they were still able to experience positive outcomes from working there despite being surrounded by people from different companies. Moreover, their experiences were still parallel to that in which they would hope to receive from an office atmosphere.
One of the main themes of the study suggests that a co-working environment is likely to provide the needed professionalism and credibility that is hard to fully access from working at home. An environment that constitutes professionalism and credibility is likely to arise from the presence of community, belongingness, and motivation. Fortunately, as found in the study, many WeWork members are able to fulfill these expectations.
Accordingly, a major and valid concern in today’s world is safety and protection from the chance of infection. Fortunately, like many other businesses looking to open up again, spaces like WeWork are working to take optimal measures to assure customer satisfaction. In a recent interview, the senior VP of enterprise and workplace for WeWork, Ronen Journo, outlined the company’s plan for moving forward. He explained that they will be de-densifying high traffic areas in the offices and increasing sanitation measures taken.
Overall, as many working people have been forced to relook the role of office space, there seems to be an adequate attraction of the benefits that co-working spaces offer. Co-working environments have their shortcomings, but if we can ever get our numbers down and cases under control, co-working environments should be the way of the future specifically for small business owners and entrepreneurs.