Coworking has become a booming business. And it may not be simply the latest trend. Studies are showing that those who use coworking spaces have increased productivity.
In many ways, this happened organically.
The onset of technology allowed more individuals to work remotely. And increasingly, more people found the traditional office environment to be less than conducive to productivity. Frequent, interminable and seemingly pointless meetings, distracting office chatter, and having coworkers constantly in view of your computer screen made working from home sound like paradise.
But remote work wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, either. Many working from home began to feel socially isolated. Many elected to work in coworking spaces – shared offices where they work on their own in the company of others, expressly to be part of a community.
Talk emerged that people in the coworking community felt more productive and successful in coworking spaces. Productivity experts took notice, and began collecting qualitative data, which bore out the anecdotal evidence. People are more productive in coworking spaces.
A 2011 Deskmag published the results of the first Global Coworking Survey, which it conducted in cooperation with the Technical Universitaet Berlin. It surveyed 661 participants from 24 countries and four continents. Some of the findings:
The second Global Coworking Survey, which had more than 1500 participants in 52 countries, found that:
A Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, “Workspaces that Move People,” featured the above findings. It cited the example of Norwegian telecom company Telenor, which took a state-run monopoly and turned it into a competitive, 150-million subscriber carrier. The CEO, Jon Frederik Baksaas, credits an office design that improved communication and decision-making speed.
The design represented a profound mindset shift in how to think about office space: not as real estate, but instead, as a communication tool. How your workspace design contributes to strategic results is more important than cost and efficiency.
At this point, productivity experts began to focus more on qualitative results than quantitative work products. Thriving meant doing work that you were meant to do: work that was fulfilling and that you do well. People who thrive at work are the ones that get the best results, not necessarily the ones who complete the most tasks or work the longest hours.
In 2014, a group of University of Michigan researchers discovered that the levels of thriving among coworkers was significantly higher than employees who work in regular offices. These researchers authored an HBR article entitled, “Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces.”
They interviewed hundreds of people involved in the coworking movement, and their analysis showed how coworking contributes to three substantial predictors of thriving:
It is clear that the sense of community established in coworking spaces is the most important element to members. Coworking members experience a sense of community in various ways:
People feel the coworking community to which they belong enhances their personal and professional identities.
Coworking fills a social void that working remotely created.
Members felt accountability and a sense of ownership for contributing to their coworking community.
Coworking spaces are more conducive to genuine friendships.
In traditional offices, work roles often take precedence over enjoyment as being the reason colleagues interact; these relationships can be emotionally void. In coworking spaces, those structures are gone; people are there because they want to be there. As a result, coworkers feel more comfortable being their authentic selves, and built stronger connections with other coworkers.
The last point above feeds into the next point: the feeling that people can be truly themselves at work allows them to find more meaning in what they do.
Because coworking spaces like LawWorks bring together people who work for different firms, practices and on different cases and case types, direct competition and office politics are not issues. People don’t need to adapt their behavior to particular roles or expectations.
Also, coworking members intentionally create cultures of collaboration and inclusivity. Members are invited to contribute their unique skills to a working environment where they can both give and receive value.
Coworking spaces allow for flexibility. People who need a certain amount of alone time can choose to come into the office once or twice a week, while working from home the remainder of the time. Others can come in for a few hours every day, then hit the gym or take a break, and work from home for a while in the evening.
Even in the office, coworkers can choose an open space where they can converse and collaborate with others, or a quiet space where they can focus.
This personal autonomy allows people to create their own form of structure, involving the coworking community in a way that works best for them. Paradoxically, a limited form of structure enables an optimal degree of control for independent workers.
The aspects of community and meaning are also paradoxical. The individual autonomy of members to maintain their desired distance creates a more meaningful space and more authentic relationships. This, in turn, creates a more cohesive community.
If you are a lawyer or legal professional, and this paradox is making sense to you, you probably need your own coworking space.
LawWorks = office space for lawyers. We’re bringing coworking to the legal profession, and we invite you to bring your authentic self to our growing community.
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