Corporates and Coworking, the secret sauce
At Harbour84 we like to describe coworking spaces as eclectic environments where people from different businesses and backgrounds come and work side by side, regularly resulting in increased levels of collaboration, innovation, and often an enhanced sense of workplace wellbeing. The best spaces exude an energy that not only attracts people to work there but makes them want to pay for it as well.
Melissa Marsh, of social research firm Plastarc, captured this brilliantly in her moderation of a recent panel at the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) in London by saying ‘Coworking spaces are places where people are paying to work rather than having to be paid to sit at desks’. This means coworking centres and spaces are creating environments and workspaces that have all the ingredients of a ‘secret sauce’ and a perceived value beyond just being one of the tools (alongside technology and coffee for example…) through which people achieve their business objectives of the day.
This is a real departure from the traditional worker-workspace-employer dynamic. Many corporate organisations are now lifting their heads out of their own Real Estate portfolios to see just how they can capitalise on the perceived benefits of these new working spaces. Increasingly corporates are collaborating and learning from coworking and ‘space as a service’ providers to AMPLIFY their NETWORKS, ENCOURAGE INNOVATION and SUPPORT EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT.
At the organisational level one core motivation for corporate organisations to work with coworking providers is the benefit of amplifying their networks. Nick Livigne, Manager of Workplace Strategy at Telecoms giant Verizon described their partnership with coworking business Work.Life as “a meaningful platform through which Verizon business teams can interact with and within the dynamic communities and ecosystems that exist within coworking centres”. He goes on to say, “the days of big R&D happening behind closed doors are gone” and large corporate organisations need to tap into new networks and communities out in the big wide world without having to put a costly and risky Real Estate stake in the sand in every market.
Whereas previously our workspace was seen as a means to an end and not worthy of thought beyond desk – check, chair- check, grey cubicle walls – check, now we talk about workspace as a key component in driving collaboration and productivity at a team level. This shift has occurred in line with a broader shift in how we construct our roles with collaboration replacing individualism and team goals replacing individual objectives.
At both the individual and team level, numerous studies have shown that a change in environment can often unlock new ways of thinking, not to mention result in chance bump-ins with other co-located workers who may have worthy insights to share. Additionally, in working from workspaces that cater to our preferences (physically, acoustically, technologically) we often feel happier and more productive, unlocking a level of discretionary effort that can serve to reinforce the social and psychological contract between employee and employer.
SUPPORTING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
As Elliot Gold of coworking business Work.Life put it at the GCUC UK conference “the way we work is changing…what we expect as employees is changing. We want more from work, from employers, from workspaces”. As our expectations change and grow so too does our disappointment if they are not met. Increased choice in our personal lives has turned each employee into a discerning customer and workplace strategists are having to look outside their own real estate portfolios to create and offer working environments that unlock that discretionary effort in work that only a happy employee can give.
As an extension of engaging the current workforce, a challenge for many organisations is attracting new talent to join. Many organisations are exploring the benefits of leveraging workspace as a tool for attracting new staff. Some organisations choose to interview from coworking spaces to enhance their employer brand and draw in the best talent by offering them a glimpse of workspace that is as compelling as the job they are interviewing for (perhaps even moreso in some cases!). Organisations like Google have elevated the role of workspace as a talent attraction tool to such an extent it is now inextricable from culture in their employer brand.
In addition to these perceived benefits above there are many other motivating factors for corporate organisations to collaborate with coworking spaces, rather than try and re-create the coworking ‘secret sauce’ themselves. Opportunities abound for these more innovative corporate organisations who understand how workspace can be leveraged to create a more compelling employee experience…and that the workspace in question does not need to be their own.
Harbour84 is an online platform to connect business travellers with workspaces that can help them be their best. Curation is key to our success. We carefully select spaces that offer connectivity, community and comfort based on the belief that workplace wellbeing and productivity go hand in hand. We then enable our customers to discover the workspaces they are looking for in a quick, simple and easy way.