The idea that Co-working can only be utilised by certain industries is a commonly held and rarely challenged belief. It’s easy to see why, when the collaborative and open aspects of agile and flexible working are so widely avoided in certain sectors. Yet despite the obvious reservations held by some, the Co-working philosophy seemsto have infiltrated its way into mainstream thought, and, evolving along the way, has become an unrivalled tool for businesses both small and large.
What has become apparent over the last few years is that the traditional way of working has changed, or at least is in the process of changing. Flexitime, agile working and hot desking are just some of the phrases so ingrained in the modern workplace that it’s rare you speak to someone who doesn’t understand them. Companies who want to be successful are always looking to innovate, and in today’s climate the Co-working phenomenon simply cannot be ignored. Although this method of working will never be fully embraced by the legal and financial industries for example, aspects of it, and certainly the philosophies behind it, will become more commonplace across all workspaces.
The need for a new model of working outside of the tech and creative sectors has been driven by many factors; innovations in technology, changes in productivity and direct access to the “sharing economy” (to name but a few).
Today’s workplace is made up of a large demographic in which graduates and CEO’s can be separated by over 50 years. While this is nothing new, the difference today is the rapid changes in technology during that period. At one end of the spectrum you have a generation who have lived their life with little contact with technology, and at the other, those who have known nothing else. The issues posed by this disparity are numerous and so how do you find an office suitable for all? Can you please both the millennials and the baby boomers? In a traditional office, it’s not likely. And so what is needed is a workspace strategy that works for both and is flexible enough that it offers a choice of different working settings that will boost the productivity of both parties.
With competition for talent continually intensifying, the workplace has become a critical tool for attracting the best workers to an organisation. In order to meet the expectations of millennials, businesses need to fully embrace new ways of working that are more in tune with younger generation’s way of thinking. Legal firms such as Olswang, Mayer Brown and Herbert Smith Freehills are planning to, or have already, adopted aspects of Co-working and agile working philosophies to boost employee engagement to satisfy their wider business objectives.
The collaborative nature of the Co-working system has many beneficial aspects that can be utilised by organisations more commonly opposed to this way of working. The trade of ‘services for services’ within a collaborative environment has helped propel businesses by cutting down on time and money, while at the same time allowing their services to reach a wider audience. It’s becoming ever clearer that innovation alongside start-ups, openness and knowledge sharing are now common practice and are enabling businesses to effectively use the expansive resources that are available around them.
What we are likely to see is the corporate world tailoring their own form of Co-working that excludes the dangers such as security and privacy risks but at the same time gets the most out of employees. The BBC’s recent plans for New Broadcasting House put heavy influence on shared areas to ensure collaboration across departments was made simpler. We are already seeing corporate firms using Co-working memberships for flexible projects and feel that as time progresses reliance on this way of working will begin to grow.