Deliberating between a regular office and a flexible office (aka coworking)? This is a must-read for you.
For most people and organizations — from ambitious young startups to large multinational corporations — choosing the right office can be one of the most important (and headache-inducing) business choices they make. Having the right workspace has been shown to improve employees’ productivity and cognitive performance, can reduce absenteeism, and can create a greater sense of satisfaction and motivation.
In recent years, flexible offices, aka coworking spaces, have surged in popularity. In fact, many people are now choosing flex space precisely for the benefits it brings their employees and businesses — including flexible growth options, an innovative and creative atmosphere, and the chance to be part of a vibrant professional community.
Yet, some people still think coworking/flex offices are just for certain types of people or businesses. If you’re thinking about new office space and you think flex offices are not for you, think again. It’s definitely worth considering what’s quickly becoming the first option of choice for all different types of businesses.
Before we dive into the myths, it’s important to clarify one thing: the term “coworking” in our view means flexible offices. At Mindspace, more than 90% of offices globally are actually private offices, while communal areas and open spaces take up less than 10%. Therefore, we mostly use the term “flex space”, to reflect the type of product and service we’re providing.
Here are the top myths about coworking, debunked, so you can have the full picture about flexible space and make the right decision about the office space that’s best for you.
Myth #1: Coworking isn’t for me because it’s all open space and I need a private office
When somebody says “coworking,” some might immediately picture a big open space with rows upon rows of desks, noisy and full of distractions. A place with little privacy or peace and quiet.
In reality, that’s not what it looks like.
Flex spaces can offer a range of different office spaces, suitable for both solo workers and larger teams. For example, there are ‘dedicated desks’ for individual workers, private offices that can seat 4–8 people, and larger team suites that can accommodate 20+ people. And there is greater flexibility to change the office space according to your team needs.
In addition, at some flex spaces, there are meeting rooms, lounges, shared common spaces, kitchens, private phone booths, and outdoor spaces like a balcony or rooftop available to members at all times. In short, the mix of office space is completely flexible and practically endless.
What’s the benefit of this mix of different types of spaces?
Well, these ‘empowered workspaces’, where people have the chance to choose where they can work throughout the course of the day, have been shown to significantly increase employee satisfaction and productivity.
What’s more, some coworking spaces are designed with the utmost care and attention to details and make a point to provide members with plenty of natural light, greenery, interesting artwork, and cool furniture and design elements — all of which has been shown to improve happiness and efficiency for people who work there.
Myth #2: It’s more expensive than a regular office
Contrary to popular belief, flex space can actually save as much as 26% per employee over five years. Consider that when you rent your own office space and set it up, you have to account for a seemingly endless list of expenses — furniture, design, office equipment, internet, utilities, management fees, cleaning, insurance, taxes, and a myriad of other headaches.
At a flex space, all amenities and benefits are defined upfront and included in the price — you know exactly what you’re getting and how much it will cost. Plus, you don’t have to designate the staff or the time to manage all the details involved with running an office every day. At a flex space, it’s all taken care of for you, even the weekly happy hours.
As for worrying that the space is only temporary and not suitable for when your company grows — in fact, it’s the opposite. It’s extremely easy and painless to scale up (or down) to suit your organization’s ever-changing needs.
Myth #3: It’s just for freelancers and startups
Although the coworking movement does have its roots in the early ‘hacker collectives’ of the 1990’s, and was initially popular with tech folks, startups, and freelancers, today, many of the world’s largest corporations are quickly moving into the coworking/flex offices sphere. Some of the companies that can be found in flex space include giants such as Microsoft, Samsung, McDonald’s, and Barclays Bank. Why are they there? Because they’re drawn to some of the clear benefits of being in a flex space:
People: Employees love the atmosphere and cool vibe of coworking, and are happier and therefore work better as a result. Some stats about the benefits of increased employee engagement: engaged employees are 38% more productive than others (Source: Workplace Research Foundation), those who describe themselves are happy are 12% more productive, and companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202% (Source: Dale Carnegie).
Flexibility: Businesses can enjoy more flexibility with their real estate needs and realize some fantastic cost-savings. They avoid all the associated costs of being locked into a space that is too big or too small for their changing needs and benefit from the ability to grow (or shrink) in their space as they need.
Innovation: Flex spaces are known for their innovative and creative environments. There are definite business pluses to being surrounded by other creative, energetic people, and the networking and serendipitous business opportunities that can occur can’t be underestimated — even when taking a quick coffee break. Many enterprise companies are relocating some of their teams to flex spaces so they can enjoy the benefit of being surrounded by startups and innovative tech companies, instead of remaining in their regular, ‘grey’ corporate office environment.
To be sure, many flex spaces still do retain the energetic startup culture of the early years — but for many, this is just another benefit to add to the list.
Myth #4: Clients won’t think you’re a ‘real company’
You might have this image of walking your new client past crowds of freelancers chatting over rows of desks. But the experience of a premium flex space speaks for itself.
The general sentiment that “they are in coworking because they can’t afford a ‘real office’” is, nowadays, non-existent. In reality, for most businesses being at a flex space is a point of pride in terms of their clients and guests — and also for hiring new talent. In fact, millennials overwhelmingly favor cool, trendy offices over more traditional workspaces.
It’s not unheard of to hear guests comment as they walk through a flex space, “Wow, this is a really cool space — I want to work here”. Being located in a global, well-known coworking brand, in a central, highly desirable location, and in a premium office setting can actually enhance your brand and position your company as a forward-looking, innovative place of business.
Myth #5: All coworking/flex spaces are the same
While it may appear that all coworking/flex spaces look the same and offer the same service, in fact, there are definite differences. These include differences in location, the level of service, the level of health and safety standards, and the overall feel delivered by different providers. All flex spaces are not created equal.
There are real differences in flex/coworking spaces — including whether they’re situated in a convenient, central location, the ratio of onsite staff to members, the design and ambiance, their amenities, and the level of investment made in their member community. There are local providers and those with a global presence. Some have a special app for users, with customized technology platforms, and some just provide a physical space. Whether you’re looking for a premium level of service for your employees or just the basics, it’s worth it to do a bit of research and find out which coworking/flex space will meet all your business needs.