Workplace of the future: Dispelling the myths of coworking spaces

Cliff Ho, Managing Director of The Commons, one of Australia’s most creative eco-systems, knows better than most the pros and cons of coworking spaces. He gives Kochie’s Business Builders the lowdown on this recent workplace phenomenon.

As the coworking market continues to cement itself as an institutional part of Australian culture, it is inevitable that naysayers will share on-going scepticism of the industry. There will also be those that are looking to join a space but are hesitant because of perceptions attached to coworking.

No matter the location or facilities, an office is never going to be perfectly suited to every employee. However, with a diverse range of businesses and a number of other benefits, coworking is often the perfect solution.

As society continues to value flexibility and community, we need to adapt to this significant shift in the market, and as such, dispel the myths of coworking.

“Coworking spaces are too noisy and disruptive”

Despite perceptions, coworking spaces are not akin to coffee shops. Many may have free-flowing coffee available to members but the idea that they’re a noisy, unproductive working environment is untrue. There is a mutual understanding and respect amongst everyone within the community that work needs to get done.

All good coworking spaces will be well designed to accommodate member needs and working styles from quiet spaces, phone booths, private meeting rooms and communal/collaborative spaces.

“These spaces are only suited to freelancers, tech companies and startups”

Another misconception is that coworking is suited towards freelancers, tech companies and startups, however, most have a very balanced mix of businesses at a variety of stages from very early startups to publicly traded companies, right through to well established, well-known companies from the Fortune 500.

More and more large companies (such as Microsoft, Google, PayPal, Dell, Spotify) are actually turning towards shared office spaces for their regional office locations as they see the overwhelming benefits.

“Coworking can be unstable and inconsistent”

Most members actually want consistency, and choosing one coworking space to grow their business is generally the aim. While companies may come in and out, the positive is meeting new people and establishing great business relationships.

There is also a misconception that people may use the space to spruik their business, but a carefully, well-curated coworking community fosters meaningful relationships, growing their network and business organically.

“It’s easy to outgrow a coworking space as a business expands”

With many different styles of office spaces, most coworking operators can tailor a member’s unique requirements, often providing more flexibility than that of a traditional office space.

Some companies can reach over 100 employees in a coworking space, however, generally when a company reaches a certain size, say 100+, it makes a lot more sense to create your own office and internal culture.

“I am going to look unprofessional to clients and business contacts if I work from a coworking space”

Most coworking spaces are set up to take client visits with meeting rooms available to book and amenities to enjoy, like coffee and tea service. In our ever-changing society, shared offices are the new normal and most coworking spaces are spending up big on attractive fit-outs. Many clients are actually fascinated by this new model and many even inquire about renting spaces themselves.

In fact, coworking spaces have many benefits and are typically more affordable than signing a long-term lease and paying for a fit out. Not to mention logistics, with everything housekeeping related taken care of, including internet, cleaning, maintenance and even a well-stocked kitchen.

Individuals in coworking spaces end up finding that their business grows quite quickly and in ways they never really expected. If you’re a freelance or startup business owner you don’t experience the isolation and loneliness often associated with a home office, plus you have a wealth of knowledge to call on from experienced entrepreneurs that share the space.

While coworking spaces are very much what you would like to make of it, more often than not, members are surprised by the way in which their business, their team members and themselves as an individual thrive. With so many opportunities and more pros than cons, dispelling the myths about coworking isn’t too difficult.

 

 

 

 

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Cliff Ho is the Managing Director of The Commons, one of Australia’s most creative eco-systems, where businesses come to grow. Currently operating in Collingwood and South Melbourne, The Commons is set to launch into Sydney, Cremorne and Melbourne CBD.

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