Co-working spaces: What’s in it for companies?

No longer the preserve of freelancers, entrepreneurs and startups, co-working spaces have become increasingly relevant to larger companies. Heavy hitters who’ve based teams in co-working spaces in recent years include Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Alibaba and Samsung Electrical – but it’s not just the tech industry that’s reaping the benefits of the co-working revolution.

All sectors across the world are now facing disruption and intense competition to recruit and retain talented employees, changing the way companies operate and strategise.

The upshot? Agility is essential. Flexibility is the new norm.

And co-working spaces have emerged as a way to simultaneously answer the needs of both companies and their employees. Here’s why.

Benefits of co-working spaces for companies

Attraction and retention

One of the reasons companies are turning to co-working spaces is to attract and retain employees.

According to the International Workplace Group (IWG) 2019 Global Workspace Survey, four in five respondents, when faced with two similar employment offers, would turn down the one that didn’t offer flexible working.

While flexible work means different things to different people, work location is a critical factor. The same survey revealed that:

“around a fifth of global workers describe flexible working as the ability to make some decisions regarding their working hours, a quarter equate it with being able to manage workload, but more than half relate it to being able to choose the type of work location”.

Whether companies are renting co-working space for individuals working remotely, for whole teams or to facilitate particular projects, the environment in which work takes place is now an important draw card as they vie for top talent.

Agility and savings

Arguably one of the biggest benefits for companies is that co-working spaces save them money. Compared to the overheads involved in renting a traditional office in a central location, shared spaces:

  • are cheaper,

  • provide varied lease options and membership levels,

  • cover the cost of facilities, equipment and maintenance.

IWG’s research notes that many businesses:

“are choosing flexible working locations to help them shed unnecessary assets, manage risk and consolidate their portfolio”.

A rapidly changing economic landscape characterised by market volatility and digital disruption is demanding that businesses stay agile, especially if they’re looking to expand nationally or internationally. Co-working spaces enable them to quickly adapt to required workforce sizes and project needs.

For many, co-working spaces are also part of a strategy to improve scalability. “Flexible working will benefit businesses expanding into new markets and locations as they set up operations too, as respondents report it helps improve speed to market,” reports IWG. “Only a meagre 24% think that the cost of rental for flexible workspace could be an issue when weighed up against these benefits.”

Networking and learning

Businesses are increasingly installing employees in co-working spaces, whether to facilitate work in different cities or to give specific teams a dedicated space away from company headquarters and alongside related startups and entrepreneurs. More than half of the world’s employees now work externally to their office for 2.5 days a week or more, highlighting the need for well-equipped, inspiring alternative spaces for work.

Back in 2015, it was noted in the Harvard Business Review that companies:

“are trying to enable more connections, helping people to interact and build community beyond work meetings. Co-working spaces are one place to look for guidance, as they regularly offer networking events, training programs, social events, and even summer camp.”

According to Damien Sheehan, country head of IWG Australia, “new-age workers love to be engaged with dozens of other companies on the same floor where they can build relationships, engage in discussions in the business lounge or cafeteria, and attend organised end-of-week or end-of-month events… Typically, as those relationships grow, it leads to business relationships and of course further opportunities.”

The co-working movement is designed to:

  • encourage diversity, cross-pollination, collaboration and open innovation,

  • bridge the gaps between industries, SMEs, entrepreneurs, creatives and startups,

  • create an energetic buzz that fuels learning and productivity.

Spending time away from the office can therefore ignite new ideas and foster connections that could prove lucrative for companies in future.

Productivity and happiness

The benefits of co-working for individuals have been well-documented, with research showing that these flexible spaces make workers feel:

  • more engaged and motivated,

  • more productive,

  • better connected,

  • happier.

Because workers are experiencing these benefits at an individual level, companies are feeling the effects too. According to IWG,

85% of businesses reported that they are more productive as a result of flexible working.

Win-win.

CORE Innovation Hub is Australia’s first co-working, collaboration and innovation hub focused on the resources and energy sector. We’re bringing together startups, SMEs and industry to build community, capability and culture in a shared work environment to help address industry’s evolving challenges. Interested? Find out how you can connect with us.