The Benefits of Coworking for Traditional Companies


If you are still doubtful about the benefits of coworking, you should just talk to someone from half million people working in any of 7,800 coworking spaces that existed worldwide last year. It looks like in 2016 we’ll see 10,000th coworking space opening, so if you haven’t already considered coworking movement as one of the most important elements of the office of the future, it might be a perfect time to do so.

Entrepreneurs, startups and freelancers join regular coworking spaces looking for social values such as learning, collaboration, transparency and belonging to the community. Businesses are starting to understand that the traditional office often fails to ensure flow, productivity and mobility. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised when you hear more and more facility managers referring to the term ‘Corporate Coworking’ in the near future. Actually, many insightful companies can already see the benefits of coworking and are introducing the ethos of the movement as part of their everyday work routines.

While an increasing amount of organizations are trying to figure out the benefits of coworking and are starting to apply the coworking formula in their offices, we invited four architecture and design industry insiders and asked them if traditional companies should really try to adopt a coworking mindset:

Coworking movement has morphed into a global phenomenon. What are the main things to consider when designing a successful coworking space?

Simon May:

One of the main benefits of basing your operation within a co-working environment is the opportunity it provides to mix, meet and collaborate with similarly-minded professionals. With this in mind it’s vital to provide a range of affordable and relevant shared spaces and facilities where these interactions can take place.

Marina Cardoso de Almeida:

It needs to have a flexible and adaptable layout, it must accommodate many people together and at the same time needs to provide privacy to them when needed. It’s a matter of balancing the spaces between their uses.

Martijn Frank Dirks:

That there is no general design solution or format. Each client is different and works in a different matter with different needs and a different taste. One client may desire a minimalistic look & feel, the other a ‘Google Office’-like one. No matter what the needs are, always try to apply them in the best possible way. Form a group of people which resemble the working force and organize workshops to define the desired future look & feel and working methods. Of course co-working is it. But co-working at a lawyers firm differs a lot from one at a mobile start-up. Also the way people work together may differ a lot at the various departments of the client’s company so please work with that input.

Lianne Bongers:

Of course, the most important thing is creating a lot of different working areas so everyone can find a place they feel comfortable in and that works best for them.

Could you tell our readers about the concept of corporate coworking?

Simon May:

In larger organizations challenges can occur where group cultures emerge leading to territorial and communication issues. Internal-facing co-working environments can help to break down barriers, aid idea sharing, cross-team consultation and simply create a lighter, more vibrant change in pace.

Marina Cardoso de Almeida:

Corporate coworking should allow knowledge sharing, flexible work times, interaction with people from different areas, new opportunities. It also refers to basic infrastructure and low costs as the space is shared with many people.

Martijn Frank Dirks:

Actually, I don’t believe there is a corporate matter. Companies differ a lot, mini cultures can even exist within one big organization. Each one of them deserves its unique co-working approach.

Lianne Bongers:

In Holland it started already around 1995 with the head office of Interpolis, a big insurance company. The whole idea of letting people make their own choice about where they work (in and outside the office) and the positive effects this has on many levels was the concept of Erik Veldhoen of Veldhoen + Company.

Talking about the benefits of coworking for traditional companies, what could be learned from co-working spaces? In terms of office design, how are corporations adopting elements of coworking?

Simon May:

A company is defined by its people and people have very complex human needs which don’t freeze the moment they enter a place of work. It is therefore key for traditional companies to recognize and address matters such as staff welfare, socializing, education, information sharing and the need for their employees to take breaks in order to be able to perform at their best. Its refreshing to see previously dead atria and marble lobbies becoming infused with new life and dynamism as co-working enters slower moving corporations.

Marina Cardoso de Almeida:

That people from different areas working in the same place can add to each other, it can improve their performance and creativity. Big open spaces to staff, small meeting rooms to provide privacy and focus when needed, decompression areas are all must haves.

Martijn Frank Dirks:

Interaction is key. Make room for people to interconnect with one another, then ideas will be born and hopefully developed into successful products and services. Find a way that people from all different departments can connect with each other, and not mainly within their own department only. Think of game rooms, a kitchen to prepare food together, communal tables etc.

Lianne Bongers:

That it not only saves money, but also has a positive effect on teams working together, individuals working better and adds more fun to the workplace which helps attracting the right talented people.

In large corporations, implementing elements of co-working can often starts with simply wanting a pool table in the canteen.

Is incorporating a coworking space within the company any different from designing a traditional coworking hub where groups of people use the same space, but don’t necessarily share the same employer?

Simon May:

Yes, culture can differ wildly from business to business, sector to sector. A typical shared co-working environment tends to appeal to the 20-45 year old creative professional so spatial design is intended to attract that crowd. On the other hand a stand alone employer can tailor the design of their environment to reflect their specific values and principles that may be perfect for their internal teams but not necessarily resonate with an external audience.

Marina Cardoso de Almeida:

The different experiences from different areas always enriches the co-working space, no matter if it’s a traditional co-working hub or a collaborative space you can find in any advanced corporate headquarters.

Martijn Frank Dirks:

Yes, every solution is different because of the culture of the company or/and the people who work there on a daily basis.

Lianne Bongers:

No, I don’t think so. With the right plan, you can make it work in any organization.

Do you think that the rise of coworking movement had any impact on other booming corporate trends such as hot desking or flexible working?

Simon May:

I think businesses are continuing to grapple with the changing demands of their employees and clients. As more millennials enter the work force their drive to find employers and environments that reflect their aspirations can lead to certain businesses gaining an edge on the competition with initiatives like co-working and flexible working.

Marina Cardoso de Almeida:

Not really. I believe that there are many strands running in parallel, while co-working is there mostly for small business and new entrepreneurs, hot desking and flexible working are company policies that meet the staff needs. Companies implement those policies if they think that this way they’ll get more content and yield more while in work hours.

Martijn Frank Dirks:

Everything work related is so connected these days, with mobile chats, conferencing, online pinboards etc. So are the above new ways of working.

Lianne Bongers:

I think all of these booming tendencies are part of the same movement of creating more efficient use of space for modern generations.

We’ve talked about the benefits of coworking for corporations. Do you think that it can hurt established businesses in any way?

Simon May:

If an established business is hurt by the co-working concept then there may be something fragile within the organization. It appears co-working is here to stay so we advise businesses to get on board with the idea and embrace the spirit of new working.

Marina Cardoso de Almeida:

No, I don’t believe it.

Martijn Frank Dirks:

It’s amazing what new interactions between people can deliver. A good co-working environment also has quiet areas designated for concentration. As mentioned above, I believe in co-working concepts tailored to the specific client. When this is the case, it can never ‘hurt’ any established business.

Lianne Bongers:

I think it is always a good idea to work with a professional when you want to implement ‘the new way of working’ into your organization. If not, it could hurt your business more than it can add to your bottom line.

How has coworking industry evolved over the years? What does the future hold for coworking?

Simon May:

Certainly in London the offer has become more polished, more professional and more desirable over the last 10 years. I think creative and digital businesses will continue to lead the demand though it will be interesting to see how demand from start-up manufacturers or designer-makers may begin to influence the market.

Marina Cardoso de Almeida:

We believe that ‘Collaborate’ is the word for the future, everything that’s related to collaboration will be successful in the foreseeable future.

Martijn Frank Dirks:

Just three things to think about: software development, time management, efficient meetings (in Holland they still take too much time).

There’s Only One Step From Understanding the Benefits of Coworking to Embracing Them

For the one who has spent all career working alongside the same people in the office, coworking might sound a little out of the norm to say the least. But as companies learn more about the benefits of coworking, it suddenly gets way easier to embrace critical elements of the movement.

The main goal of introducing the ideas of coworking to traditional businesses is usually about improving the working experience and creating the atmosphere where people thrive to belong. Simply putting your employees into the layout of an open space will never be enough to boost satisfaction, productivity and creativity. Besides providing us with a mixture of working environments, a truly successful corporate workplace will aim to increase flexibility in its business structure and focus on team building and social interactions.


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