Nook – The coworking treasure map
On a treasure map we all know that X marks the spot. Gold, treasure, riches beyond your wildest dreams; the solution that will instantly transform your life. But we also know that navigating the path to finding the X is fraught with perilous journeys.
The first time individuals step in to a vibrant coworking space they may believe they’ve managed to swerve the rapids, avoid the shark-infested waters and skipped effortlessly in to the perfect working environment. Did you know that, for example, every five days, a coworking space opens in London so people are no longer limited to the one global coworking brand that previously had the monopoly on coworking spaces – you know which one ‘We’ are talking about. The paradigm shift in work culture has seen not only the rise in entrepreneurs, freelancers and small start-ups setting up camp in coworking spaces but also larger organisations. Corporates have increasingly been taking up the concept and currently account for approximately half of the occupier base, a staggering statistic demonstrating that community spaces are good for productivity, collaboration, employee engagement, and cost-cutting – all of which positively impact the bottom line.
So to meet this new demand, up pop the myriad of shared spaces, coworking spaces and flexible offices. Whilst these environments have addressed the need for multi-tennancy community-focused work spaces, many have forgotten the basics of what people need to get work done. The ways acoustics and privacy affect wellbeing have recently been explored with the observation that architects and interior designers may have unwittingly exposed people to an auditory deluge, which in turn has prompted a form over function quick fix of phone booths and acoustic panels.
Networking is fantastic. Areas to share ideas are fantastic. What is not fantastic is not being able to do any work. Flexible work spaces are still clearly in the early stages of their evolution, which mean many people have yet to find the elusive X marking the spot for the ideal environment. Free WIFI, unlimited caffeine and beautiful aesthetics seem to be recognised as the norm, however the primary function of a coworking space should be that the environment is conducive to work.
It may be challenging trying to cater to everyone’s office needs (just ask facilities managers) but the way to do this is to arrange separate areas, a clear distinction between the louder more collaborative spaces and the quieter, focused-zone spaces. We’re not talking extremes – no library silences or rowdy coffee bars – but environments that can be visited depending on the task at hand. 52% of Gen Z say they’re most productive when they’re working around noise or talking with others, but 60% of Baby Boomers are most productive when it’s quiet. This might be because 20% of a Gen Z claim to spend half their day talking via phone, video or multi-party calls compared to 7% of Baby Boomers doing the same. If you prefer the café murmur or need to talk out loud then head to an area with a constant buzz, so you blend in. In need of a distraction-free day to write, untangle or research? Secluded, private, serene spaces will allow the mind to naturally meander without the interruption of laughter, music or conversation.
With an aging population and never-before-heard-of jobs making teenagers millionaires, today’s modern workforce is extremely diverse. It makes sense then that each individual will have a slightly different opinion on what marks X on the coworking treasure map. Slides, spa rooms, ping pong tables, on-site childcare, free massages; whatever it is that entices you to a particular coworking space may also be putting others off. If you want to attract diversity, you’ve got to diversify.
Workers will naturally migrate to the ebb and flow of their preferred working pattern, choosing the stimulus that works best for them on a day to day basis and on a task-by-task basis. The most essential point to remember is that on the coworking treasure map, X marks the spot where an individual can work their best. The final destination. Ideally there’s a mixture of working spaces to satisfy Gen Z, Baby Boomers and anyone else who walks in, with a combination of quiet, private spaces and more open collaborative areas.
If a coworking space can unite all of these under one roof, then you may have well and truly found the ultimate treasure trove.
For examples of companies that found better ways of working, check out the Nook case studies page or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (hopefully in a quiet space, so as not to distract others) +44 (0)333 577 6665.