The unspoken value of co-working and the future of the workplace

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, startup or a small business, being in a co-working space is one of the best decisions you will ever make.

Not only do you benefit from the reduced cost of shared amenities, which is needed in the first years of starting up, but you’re also surrounded by others going through the same thing as you.

The unspoken value that co-working brings is an ecosystem of individuals and teams that together foster diversity. Having access to diverse people with different values, opinions and perspectives, gives you and your business an edge. Co-working is a large part of the sharing economy, members have the ability to ask questions, listen to other viewpoints and experiences. They’re always growing and learning in a dynamic environment – this is not something that you would have access to in your local coffee shop or home office.

Co-working gives you a platform on which to brainstorm ideas and collaborate with others on theirs – this is also where service trading, skills transfer and bartering takes place. We see it time and time again in our co-working space, where with the right level of networking and facilitation, members are doing business both with and for one another. The result of this – they’re growing their own businesses and expanding their current portfolio. Having more to offer through joint ventures and collaborations.

The diversity of opinions, sharing and trading of skills, makes co-working an incubator for business success. This is a real breeding ground for sustainability through diversity.

Co-working is however not only limited to startups and budding entrepreneurs looking to get their business ideas off the ground. Workplaces of the future will see and are seeing a major disruption in the way they have always operated.

We are seeing more and more large corporates, lean on the likes of freelancers for project-based work. Employees are also wanting more time to work from outside of the office and this is starting to be a major drawcard for talent hiring. People want to get outside and have a change of scenery, creativity is being stifled by the clinical nuances of current workplaces.

Over the next decade, we will see workplaces offer a diverse mix of spaces, combining the use of furniture with new shared amenities. All with the aim of elevating overall worker performance.

Social psychologist and author of, “The Best Place To Work.”, Ron Friedman told Business Insider that, “My views that we’re going to see more and more flexibility in workplace design.” He went on to say that, “offering a selection of spaces for workers to choose from is going to become essential for business success.”

We’re seeing this in our very own backyard, when you take a tour of the bold Discovery Building in Sandton, you can get a feel for where workplaces will be going, and soon.

Here are the top trends that we see happening in workplaces of the future: the overarching theme being to allow workers to move through the space based on the work they are doing, as well as on their emotional state.

  • Private offices for teams who require closed collaboration will carry on but will see more glass and open planned design
  • Open collaborative spaces that will have various seating options – such as long communal tables, soft lounge seating and workstation pods
  • Small hideaway areas for workers will aid in lowering anxiety levels, as well as quiet rooms for workers who need to just catch a breather, or to get away from the noise and do more focused work. Private phone booths will allow for privacy in open-plan workspaces
  • Large conference or meeting rooms with still have the place, as well as the smaller, now more informal collaborative rooms
  • Rooms will now cater to nature of the meeting, for example conversation rooms, with low and comfortable seating, with floor lamps, greenery and warm layered textures, not common in your current meeting rooms.
  • Brainstorm rooms will make use of painted whiteboards all over walls and other surfaces that enable problem-solving and collaboration.
  • Communal kitchen spaces will also encourage collaboration and social interactions amongst workers, and double up as an entertainment area for clients and for hosting events.
  • Outdoor seating and activity areas, along with rooftop gardens and benches will bring about a sense of calm and recreation for workers and clients alike. Places where they can go to be one with nature and entertain are key to the success of workplaces. Exposure to natural light and greenery is important and lifts the mood of workers, resulting in happier
  • Technology is already playing a big role in understanding the behavior of workers and workplaces. Think back to the access card that you make use of to go in out and of buildings and meeting rooms. Using this data will aid in how workplaces are designed and how spaces can be maximized.
  • Making use of online booking systems, or even better yet creating a co-working app to allow members and visitors to book spaces in real time and to communicate and engage with the community.
  • The rise and merging of a diverse workforce, will see both permanent, contract and freelancers occupying and moving through the space, without having to feel as if they are parts of a disconnected environment. This will be achieved through the use of communal areas and more informal space design that allows for flow of these teams of the future.

The rise of co-working is set to shake up the commercial property industry in South Africa, in 2016 there were approximately 11 000 co-working locations globally and this is expected to double to 26 000 by 2020. Property agents will do well changing their mindset from renting space to rather developing spaces for the future. Soon there’ll be a co-working space on every corner, and we can’t wait!

Written by Ondina Pires – CEO of Impello Co-working Space