The working environment of tomorrow is creeping in today with co-working businesses like thecommondesk.com becoming increasingly popular. They house freelancers, established businesses, and work-from-home types, but the most interesting among their clientele are the startups. I say interesting because most of what co-working spaces have to offer seem to fit perfectly with the needs and culture of new businesses.
Most obvious among the benefits which blend seamlessly with the needs of a startup is the sense of focus that permeates your average co-working space. Despite the wide variety of people sharing the space, distractions are at a surprising minimum, with people reporting that the fast pace and subtly competitive nature of the environment boosts productivity and encourages people to match the average amount of work getting done. Startups without a stable office aren’t excluded from these gains either; coworking memberships are available on a per-person basis, so even your marketing strategist can maximize her focus on your virtual office from all the way in Plano, Texas.
Beyond the focus on output, a co-working space also encourages a focus on the nature of a startup’s product (be it a good or a service) as well as its culture. Some co-working establishments can draw as many as 200 distinct businesses and freelancers at a time, meaning a startup would be exposed to the gamut of innovators and creative types in the area. This exposure forces a startup to keep a close eye on their corporate identity, brand, organizational structure, and unique selling points.
All told, a shared workspace promotes high levels of focus and reflection–habits that are critical to chasing growth and stability.
The startup life is tough on everyone who chooses it, and the risks involved very likely contribute to the declining number of such ventures in America. The anxiety of having to ensure a new company’s success is only magnified when the workplace feels more like a prison than a place to nurture a fledgling brand.
Shared spaces offer amenities and programs to help their members unwind at the end of a shift or keep themselves engaged in the activities they enjoy. Many offer in-house gyms, free-flowing coffee, and periodic social events, allowing startups to save on the cost of providing these on top of the higher cost of leasing exclusive workplaces.
The value in these seemingly little things goes a long way towards keeping employees happy, thereby increasing productivity. Employees’ chances of staying on board for longer also improve as the workday feels more value-adding, and less of a soul-crushing grind.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway that a startup could stand to gain from settling into a co-working space is the opportunity to learn best practices and network with other tenants. I’ve mentioned before that the working environment is fast-paced and chock-full of corporate and creative wit –beyond promoting focus, this gives members a chance to interact and share tips and tricks to optimize workflow. The daily, direct interactions had with people equally committed to surviving the challenges of modern entrepreneurship forge priceless networks of shared learning and connections that could one day prove to be a major factor in securing a startup’s future.
Productivity hacks are far from the only lessons, as a startup’s co-workers can also give valuable insight into brand perception and the power of a startup’s messaging.
The choice of where to house a business ultimately lies with the startup. While the measure of success has traditionally been to settle somewhere permanent, like how a newly-independent youth can’t wait to purchase a house, a new era for office space is on the rise. And new companies would do well to consider making the most out of the rising tide.