What is coworking office space, also known as coworking office spaces, seem to have a special charm. Researchers, who have studied employee thriving for years, were surprised to discover that individuals working in coworking office spaces report levels of thriving close to an average of 6 on a scale of 7—this is at least one point higher than the average for employees in traditional offices. This finding prompted a deeper examination of the data.

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We were curious

What makes coworking spaces—membership-based workplaces where independent professionals, freelancers, and remote workers collaborate in a communal, shared setting—so successful? Are there any lessons that can be applied to more traditional offices as well?

To find out, we interviewed managers and founders of coworking spaces and surveyed hundreds of workers across dozens of coworking locations in the U.S. The results of our survey, analyzed through regression analysis, revealed three significant predictors of thriving.

Firstly, coworking spaces are perceived as meaningful by those who use them. The individuals we interviewed found meaning not only in the work they do—for instance, freelancers choosing projects that are meaningful to them—but also in the opportunity to bring their whole selves to work. This is possible in several ways.

Unlike traditional offices

coworking spaces house members representing a variety of companies, ventures, and projects. The absence of direct competition and internal politics means members don’t have to adopt a professional persona, fostering a diverse working environment. This diversity can strengthen one’s own identity, with respondents reporting that having to describe their work frequently made it more interesting.

Secondly, meaning is found in an environment where mutual support is the norm. Coworking spaces abound with opportunities for helping one another.

Lastly, meaning is derived in a more tangible way from the social mission inherent to the Coworking Manifesto—an online document signed by more than 1,700 members of coworking spaces. This document outlines the values the coworking movement aspires to, such as community, collaboration, and learning, reinforced by the annual Global Coworking UnConference. For many, their work is not just a job; it’s participation in a movement.

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Individuals in coworking office spaces

enjoy greater control over their jobs, benefitting from 24-hour access. This flexibility allows them to work extended hours during crunch times or take breaks for the gym as needed. They have the option to work in quiet zones for focus or in communal areas for interaction. Coworking spaces offer the advantage of working from home during personal emergencies without negative repercussions.

It has been observed that those using coworking office spaces also appreciate the structure and routine it brings to their work lives. Without a routine, too much autonomy can lead to decreased productivity. Working alongside others in a coworking environment helps foster discipline and motivation. Interestingly, the somewhat limited structure in coworking spaces provides just enough framework to keep independent workers optimally productive.

Coworking spaces foster a sense of community among their members. Individuals opt for these communal spaces for networking opportunities, as opposed to isolated home offices or less engaging traditional offices. Each coworking space offers a unique environment, with managers dedicated to creating tailored experiences for members. For instance, Grind, a burgeoning coworking network in Florida, emphasizes community building through personalized attention to each member, facilitating connections and embodying both workspace and hospitality.

WeWork, valued at $5 billion in the previous year, highlights the transition from an independent “me” to an integrated “we” within its spaces, underscoring the communal aspect of coworking.

Interaction within coworking spaces is optional

allowing members to choose their level of social engagement. This flexibility ensures that members can enjoy social interactions, such as coffee conversations, or seek solitude in quiet areas of the space as needed. Research indicates that even less socially active members feel a sense of belonging to the coworking community, knowing that interaction is available whenever preferred.

The rise of coworking office spaces has implications beyond the tech, freelancer, and entrepreneur circles, becoming increasingly relevant across various sectors. Coworking spaces offer significant benefits for employee and business growth, leading more companies to integrate coworking into their business strategies in diverse ways.

Coworking office spaces have emerged as a revolutionary solution

offering an alternative workspace that caters to the needs of a diverse workforce. Michael Kenny of Co-Merge in San Diego observes a significant uptrend in their utilization, stating, “In the last year and a quarter, we’ve witnessed a dramatic increase in enterprise employees leveraging our space. From utilizing various on-demand conference rooms to global companies of all sizes employing our spaces, the objective remains the same: facilitating productive work for distributed employees and appealing to those seeking flexible work arrangements.”

The appeal of coworking spaces extends to remote workers from large organizations, indicating a shift in workplace dynamics. Anthony notes, “Our growth hasn’t required outreach to larger entities; they naturally gravitate towards us.” This trend is evidenced by employees from Visa, Florida journalists, and individuals from major financial institutions embracing coworking spaces.

Coworking spaces are not only about providing a place to work

they are innovation hubs. Rebecca Brian Pan, the founder of COVO and former COO of NextSpace, shares how Ricoh’s innovation team used their Santa Cruz location to identify work habits and challenges. Through member feedback and thorough analysis, Ricoh developed and launched the Smart Presenter, a solution designed to facilitate paperless meetings.

Moreover, the insights garnered from coworking environments have profound implications for traditional corporate offices. The essence of creating an optimal working environment goes beyond physical changes, like adding a coffee shop or adopting an open-plan layout. It’s about enabling employees to produce meaningful work and granting them the autonomy to shape their working conditions. Best practices from coworking spaces suggest a balance between dedicated desks and shared areas to support various work modes – collaborative, quiet, and more.

In an effort to foster community and innovation, companies are increasingly facilitating interactions beyond formal meetings. Coworking spaces, known for hosting networking and social events, serve as models for corporate environments seeking to strengthen community ties. Menlo Innovations in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for instance, expanded their office to welcome early-stage entrepreneurs and startups, thereby fostering a vibrant community of innovators.

Transitioning a corporate office into a coworking-like space

involves more than a physical redesign; it entails creating an environment that supports autonomy and authenticity. Our research underscores the importance of a well-designed and experientially rich workspace in enhancing employee satisfaction and productivity. Coworking spaces offer valuable lessons for traditional companies aiming to cultivate a dynamic and engaging work environment. By providing the necessary space and support, employees feel more connected and are more likely to contribute their best ideas and efforts.

In summary, coworking office spaces represent a paradigm shift in how work is conducted, emphasizing flexibility, community, and innovation. Traditional companies looking to harness the benefits of coworking should focus on creating spaces that empower individuals to thrive and connect, ultimately reflecting positively on the organization’s culture and output.

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