We interview CEOs and coworking advocates to get an insider’s view of why both startups and enterprises are warming up to coworking
Long gone are the days when the centerpiece of the workplace was the water cooler or photocopier. The explosion of coworking spaces all over the world has shown many businesses that the work environment is key in shaping how successful your business will be.
The term coworking might inspire images of funky open spaces, entrepreneurs chatting on comfy sofas, free beer on tap and ping pong tables. But what is it really about and why should I move my business to a coworking space?
To get the insiders’ view, we spoke to the members and Founder & CEO of coworking space provider JustCo, to get some insights and tips …
1. Save time and money
Business founders are busy people. Very busy people. As their company grows they have to worry about developing the product, expanding the team, managing cash flow, dealing with shareholder interests and so on. These extremely busy entrepreneurs need to choose their time wisely and avoid being constantly dragged into time-consuming exercises such as day-to-day office management.
Grace Lin, JustCo member and general manager of Cloudflare’s Asia operations explains why they choose coworking:
“It was just much easier without having to deal with getting furniture and outfitting the office. The time spent on doing all that will also mean that I’m not expanding the company, or meeting potential partners and clients..”
According to Colliers International’s Flexible Workspace Outlook Report 2017, businesses can also save time as well as money — 25 per cent when comparing coworking costs to traditional offices.
JustCo’s Founder & CEO, Wan Sing Kong, adds: “Many members see coworking as valuable cost saving. They just receive one bill and all services are included such as internet, utilities, phone, office furniture, and standard office supplies.”
2. Increase creativity and productivity
It seems that coworkers are happier, more creative and more productive employees. They care about their work, feel they have control over what they are doing and feel connected to a community of different individuals and companies without the internal politics of traditional offices.
In the recent Study of Coworking Space in Singapore by National University of Singapore (NUS), 70 per cent of JustCo members said that the space encourages creative thinking, and 67 per centfeel it helps them generates ideas of higher quality.
Employers are finding these kinds of figures hard to ignore and many businesses are now looking at how they can install specific teams in coworking spaces or recreate the coworking environment in their own workplace.
3. Find top talent
Sit down with any startup founder and ask them what is the toughest part of their job and sooner or later (most likely sooner) they’ll say recruiting and keeping top talent.
JustCo member and FairMedOnline COO Matthias Berger says that finding qualified people is always a challenge and the coworking environment aids in the process: “Guests are always impressed and happy when they come to JustCo, which helps when trying to get new talent. This is very important as we’re expanding the team further soon.”
Wan Sing adds: “The landscape has changed. Millennials are now the largest working group making up over 45 per cent of the workforce. They are coming into the workplace with different expectations to previous generations and have different needs.”
Plus, jumping from the safe world of working in corporates to the startup scene can be a scary and unpredictable ride. And if you want to seduce an experienced professional for the corporate world, showing off a vibrant and stylish work environment can help seal the deal.
Michele Ferrario, Co-founder & CEO of wealth management startup StashAway says: “Our biggest success so far has been to attract the right people. Moving people from the seemingly-safe world of finance to a start up is not easy. Bringing candidates to the coworking space helps convince top talent to join, as the space and atmosphere makes for a very attractive environment.”
4. Source new clients and partners
Clearly one of the most noticeable differences about working in a coworking space is that you are sharing the workplace with other individuals and businesses. It’s also one of the biggest benefits.
Working side by side with likeminded hardworking, passionate, entrepreneurial and focused people gives members the opportunity to network, create partnerships, find mentors and reach out to new clients.
Adrian Heng, VP Communications & Marketing for Booqed, a digital marketplace for on-demand space, says: “We’ve found coworking conducive, and it has enabled our team to connect and engage with a large community. Plus we’ve already been able to set up a new partnership since joining.”
5. Get the most from events and discounted services
If you work in a traditional office, the events highlights might consist of fire safety training or a HR induction. Whereas the best coworking spaces offer a full roster of regular events and activities including personal development, business skills, health and lifestyle activities, networking and socializing.
“Events are core to the community, they bring our members together, and help to motivate and inspire the teams. In additional to the regular events, we provide partner offers and deals that add value to the membership“, explains Wan Sing.
“Providing discounted services from trusted business and lifestyle providers enable businesses to grow quickly and focus on their core business and services.”
Get involved: Coworking is not just for freelancers and startups
If you’re from a large business and thinking it doesn’t apply to you, then think again. Big businesses are now keen to get in on the action and JustCo tells us that 50 per cent of its members come from medium sized businesses or MNCs.
Colliers International research shows that 35 per cent of coworking deals are for 15 desks or more, and 80 per centof deals globally for 40 desks or more are from multinational corporations. And this has benefits for both small and large businesses.
For many big corporates there is a significant advantage of being connected to like-minded energetic start ups and entrepreneurs who offer inspiration and different ways of looking at things.
And startups get the opportunity to hook up and partner with large businesses that can give them access to new clients and potential investors.
Wan Sing explains: “High-end professionals, banks and consultancy firms are now interested in this attractive and engaging style of workspace. They see it as a way to attract and retain the best talent, impress existing clients and connect with new clients and partners. These businesses also want to be seen as being dynamic, embracing these new shifts and engaging with the local community.”
So with the coworking shift set to continue and more and more well know businesses making the switch from traditional offices to this new way of working, it’s easy to see why many will be asking why they don’t work in a place that this.
According to the Deskmag 2017 Global Coworking Survey over 1 million people are predicted to work in 14,000 coworking spaces globally by the end of 2017. The question is, will you be one of them?
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The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here.
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