Coworking is often associated with freelancers, and that’s not surprising as they make up 41% of the coworking workforce, and the benefits for them are obvious – but could start ups benefit more from coworking spaces than previously thought?
Physical and mental health are intrinsically linked to one another; to improve productivity and quality of life, you need to ensure the mental health of your employees comes first.
After the pandemic burnout and stress are at an all-time high, especially for those who were working from home before lockdowns and who will continue to work from home after.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that start-ups should be emptying their pockets to rent office spaces – that’s where coworking comes in.
What is Coworking?
Coworking refers to multiple businesses operating within the same building. Most have a range of membership options to appeal to freelancers, startups, SMEs, and even branches of larger corporations.
Just need somewhere to meet with a client a few times a week? You’ll be able to sign up to the lowest membership option, usually around 20 hours of access a week, to use meeting rooms and desk space at your convenience.
If you need somewhere to house a small team of employees that work in the same department, there are private offices you can rent on a monthly contract that come with all the ergonomic furniture and extra amenities you’ll need.
But the level of flexibility isn’t the only reason coworking is such a smart choice for startups – it can have enormous benefits for your teams’ productivity and mental health.
Anyone can suffer negative mental health consequences from working alone; it’s not just freelancers. Working as part of a startup can already be stressful, working alone can exasperate that further. A recent study has shown that working alone can have enormous impacts on mental health, with almost one-fifth of respondents (17.8%) citing that working alone was the sole reason they had mental health conditions.
By joining a coworking space, you greatly increase the number of peers and colleagues that your employees see on a daily basis. If you’re a team of only 5 people, working in a coworking space gives your employees the opportunity to interact with a far larger number of people each day. Small talk in the kitchen, saying hi as you pass in the corridors, asking someone for help with an IT problem, all of these seemingly tiny interactions combine to create a much more sociable and relaxed workplace atmosphere and improve the mental health of your employees.
Some coworking spaces even hold Mental Health Support Groups, where you can discuss your mental health concerns with people outside your immediate business and access support if you need it – simply being able to talk about mental health openly can make an enormous difference to your employees.
Daily interactions with people outside of your business can be beneficial for more than just your employees mental health. Networking might sound like something that’s only relevant to freelancers, but it’s more important than you’d think for a startup.
With so many different businesses and freelancers who work across multiple sectors in one place, you have endless resources at your fingertips. As an example, if you’ve previously had to refuse work that includes graphic design because you don’t have a designer on your team, you can reach out to your coworking community to find talented freelancers who specialize in that area – suddenly, you’re able to take on larger projects that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
Networking is also important for your employees’ productivity; instead of spending hours Googling tech issues or resource guides, they can simply reach out to their peers for help when they need it. They can attend workshops and training sessions run by other members, which allows them to expand their skill set and become even more valuable to the business. Rather than your employees struggling over a task that’s outside their comfort zone, they’ll be empowered to learn something new.
It seems like an oxymoron to suggest that working alongside people outside of your organization can improve team spirit, but coworking spaces create a unique opportunity to bond with your team.
Coworking spaces almost always run members’ events and activities that you’re free to join in with – from Friday Night Drinks, to a game of volleyball, to party games, there’s bound to be something for everyone in your startup to enjoy. Playing sports and party games together against other teams in the space gives you a chance to bond and create a sense of belonging and pride in the businesses; whether you win or lose, your team worked together towards a goal that was for fun, not for work.
Successful team-building activities can improve productivity and collaboration within your team by teaching you how to communicate effectively. Bonding as a team can also improve your employees’ motivation and creativity, as they become more invested in the success of the team and the company as a whole – as a startup, having passionate employees is crucial.
Simply seeing other teams around you laugh and have a good time at work can improve the work culture in your team; especially if you’ve been working remotely for a long time, working around other businesses can serve as a reminder that work should be just as fun as it is challenging.
Did you know that the design of the space you’re in can have an enormous impact on your mood? If you’ve ever left a pile of dishes on the kitchen side, you’ve likely experienced how small details of a room can completely change the atmosphere.
During the pandemic, the importance of design became more obvious, with many remote workers making adjustments to their previously forgotten home offices to try and compensate.
The joy of a coworking space is that someone has already done the work for you; sure, you could rent or buy your own office space if you had the funds, but making it feel like an office your employees actually want to work in requires a lot of time, work, and expertise.
That’s why different coworking spaces often specialize in certain sectors and target their design to make the work environment right for those kinds of businesses. One coworking space may focus its design to suit technology and media-based businesses, with neutral colors, lots of plants, and an open, airy feeling throughout; in contrast, another coworking space appealing to creative industries and retail may use blocks of bold color and a cozier feeling to the space.
It’s safe to say that a lot of work goes into the psychology of office design, so why not move to an office where the hard work’s been done for you?
Could Coworking Revitalize Your Startup?
The benefits and flexibility of coworking make it the perfect solution for startup businesses looking to expand and grow.
If you’ve noticed your remote colleagues seem to be in a bit of a slump, they’ve expressed concerns about their mental health, or you’re simply in need of an upgrade to your workspaces, coworking should be a real consideration for your business.
- 41% of the coworking force are freelancers: https://www.smallbizgenius.net/by-the-numbers/coworking-statistics/#gref
- 17.8% say working alone is the sole reason for their mental health issues: https://www.headspacegroup.co.uk/how-coworking-can-help-your-mental-health/