The coworking trend has been hugely affected by the pandemic, but not in the negative way many people think. As the term “hybrid working” entered our shared vocabulary, more and more employees enjoyed the boost in productivity brought by flexible working arrangements.
Furthermore, the pandemic caused a monumental shift in attitudes towards employment. In 2021, the “Great Resignation” began, with workers quitting their jobs in droves to pursue self-employment by starting their own businesses or working freelance, and many have never looked back.
Coworking spaces have played an important part in this work revolution, providing people with spaces to work and collaborate on their own time. However, it’s not only individual workers that are fueling this trend. Companies have also turned to coworking spaces to enhance worker satisfaction and boost employee retention.
But what do modern workers want from their workspaces? And in our rapidly changing work culture, what do tenants look for in the emerging new workspaces of today?
Flexibility is king
The pandemic introduced remote working to the world, eye-opening for many. Cutting out the commute – which amounted to one to two hours per day for most people – allowed workers to get more done at work and home.
The ability to plan a day without the stress of getting ready and commuting to the office enhanced productivity for salespeople and other sales industry workers. In many cases, it allowed them to create customized daily schedules around their client’s needs, which enhanced their ability to drive sales.
However, remote work quickly lost its appeal as employees reported feeling isolated and lonely, suffering from the so-called “Zoom zombie” syndrome that left workers feeling disconnected from their colleagues. As offices reopened, workers embraced hybrid work situations that allowed them to plan a day in the office or at home depending on the work that needed to be done and the level of collaboration needed.
Another key factor fueling the changes we’ve seen in work life is the increasing caretaking burden falling on the shoulders of already overworked employees. For an employee struggling to balance the needs of a full-time job with the responsibilities of being a full-time caretaker – whether to a young child, teen, or aging parent – having the ability to work in different locations can be a game-changer.
Thus, workspaces should provide flexibility for their tenants, offering coworking agreements and leases that can be held on a short-term basis. Ideally, memberships should be valid in different locations.
Focus on employee well-being
As companies bend over backwards to attract talent to their organizations, increased attention has been paid to providing employees with the means to live a healthy and balanced life, both at work and beyond.
Many companies first began looking for coworking spaces after office closures caused employees to feel isolated. Rather than reopen their entire offices for the few that wanted to come back in and work, these spaces were offered as a way to mitigate the work-from-home blues reported from the extroverted crowd.
According to a survey of office-occupied companies, over 50% of organizations report prioritizing facilities that will support the well-being of their workers. Popular features in these spaces include special rooms for feeding and changing babies, gyms, or areas for practicing yoga or meditation, for example.
Embracing smart technology
Obviously, workspaces need to have internet connectivity to provide high-speed Wi-Fi to a large array of devices. However, technology has evolved in other ways that encompass the coworking community. Coworking tenants are increasingly requesting that their workspaces incorporate smart technology and automated software to create a more sustainable and seamless work experience.
For example, rather than clocking in at set times during the day, employees want to manage their workload in a dynamic way that best suits themselves and their clients. Workspaces that offer automatic time tracking software empower employees to manage their time effectively to avoid burnout or unintentionally slacking off.
Automated smart building technology can monitor and adjust utilities depending on occupancy, lowering maintenance costs with savings that can be passed on to customers. By integrating smart building technology into a member app, tenants can check occupancy levels at their workspace before arriving.
Smart technology can also track usage of communal equipment while detecting and automatically troubleshooting problems, identifying potential red flags before an equipment failure becomes a bigger issue.
Lowering costs and decreasing environmental impact are great benefits in themselves, but the recent pandemic has added an increased appeal to smart technology. By utilizing biometrics for member access, workspaces can provide a highly secure, touchless way for workers to make use of their coworking space.
As an additional benefit, control of access through smart technology can play a huge role in contact tracing to minimize the effects of a Covid-19 outbreak and ensure that communal areas are disinfected in proportion to their usage.
From large corporations to small businesses, many companies have incorporated specific sustainability goals regarding their office operations.
The green industry is expected to grow by 21% by 2030, with many promising startups created to address specific environmental concerns. As companies shift to the hybrid work model and adopt coworking spaces as an alternative to working from home, they need to know that the coworking spaces they are utilizing have similar corporate values.
Buildings that score high on energy efficiency grading systems, such as the LEEDS or BREEAM certificates, will provide a high level of appeal to future tenants. After all, once office workers have been taught new, sustainable habits, they will be disappointed to let these go by choosing a workspace that doesn’t accommodate sustainable living.
By using smart technology to monitor workspace occupation levels, automatically adjusting heat and lighting in accordance, workspaces can drastically cut down on their carbon footprint.
Coworking spaces should also, of course, embrace recycling by providing recycling stations throughout their office space, as well as minimizing one-use or non-recyclable items such as plastic straws, forks, or styrofoam cups.
If there is anything that the past two years have taught us, it’s that our world is rapidly changing. And people and companies must be ready to adapt.
Working arrangements that offer flexibility, sustainability, and technology to aid employees in being as efficient as possible while also providing the necessary work-life balance will lead the way in the future work culture.