Almost three years into the pandemic, the coworking space has become much familiar for employees, employers, and freelancers the world over. They have begun to embrace the changes COVID-19 has brought to the way they live, learn, and work. For some, it could mean completely working from the comfort of their homes or transferring from an office to a productive coworking space.
Many have called this a sort of work revolution, allowing people to do their tasks more effectively whenever and wherever they want. This movement is increasingly becoming recognized as the new normal as demand for coworking spaces has shot up, and old, corporate offices are quickly going out of style.
Read on to find out why coworking spaces have been thriving during the pandemic, and why they might just be the reality of work environments moving forward.
Effects of the pandemic on work/employment
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the employment crisis brought about by the pandemic could be likened to the Great Depression. It warns of the danger that this health crisis will worsen poverty and inequalities and eventually become a social crisis. Thus, it calls on countries to reconstruct their labor markets as “an essential investment in the future and future generations.”
Companies and businesses have already begun to invest in the future by either allowing their employees to continue going to the office or adopting flexible work schedules.
The World Happiness Report 2021 stated significant changes among the 11 factors related to happiness during the pandemic, particularly in the workplace. It noted two main developments:
1. People were finding purpose, achievement, and learning less important in terms of workplace happiness. This suggests that employees have been happy to just have a job and financial security; they haven’t been looking for meaning or purpose at work.
2. People were finding flexible work schedules and supportive management more important. All over the world, employees have had to navigate their previous routines amid lockdowns, social distancing, and other restrictions meant to contain the pandemic. Now, they value time and location flexibility, as well as support from their managers.
Businesses that take these well-being drivers into account and set up shop in a coworking space seem more likely to survive the change in times of crisis, such as a pandemic.
Working from home: the good and the bad
Working from home became the go-to solution for companies still aiming to push through the pandemic, but this came with a long list of pros and cons.
Fewer distractions from colleagues – While there are distractions at home, there could also be more distractions at the office: meetings and interruptions from colleagues and bosses, among others.
More time with the family – One could very easily adjust their work schedule around their child’s online classes or their partner’s free time at home.
No need for travel – Working from home means avoiding daily traffic as well as the hassle and expense of commuting.
Work when you want – Some people work best in the daytime, while others identify as night owls, writing up reports and accomplishing most of their tasks when everyone else is asleep.
Ability to choose where you live – Without the need to go to the office, you could practically live anywhere.
Uneven work-life balance – Without a clear separation between work space/time and personal space/time, you might end up working in bed and falling asleep.
Not meeting colleagues face to face – For new employees during the pandemic, it can be difficult to get a feel of company culture if they have never met their colleagues in person.
A lack of office benefits – Forget about enjoying free food at the pantry or visiting the office gym when you’re free; you’re all on your own when it comes to taking a breather from work.
Miscommunication happens – With everyone communicating online, it’s easy to misinterpret what others are trying to say, and your words might even be taken against you if you use the wrong emoji.
No motivation – Without the thought of your boss suddenly looking over your shoulder or coworkers hustling right beside you, you might lack the motivation you need to even start working.
Why a traditional office just doesn’t cut it anymore
With all the pros and cons associated with working from home, companies might choose to just revert to the traditional office. However, the traditional office setup is fast becoming the way of the past especially when compared to coworking spaces and in light of the pandemic. Here’s why:
Businesses need to commit to long-term leases if they want office space. This could mean keeping an office for one year, three years, or even five. With the unpredictability that’s come with the pandemic, this doesn’t seem like the wisest idea. Workers might not even be allowed to sit beside each other.
Since employees around the world have experienced the flexibility offered by working from home, they might be reluctant to return to the office, where a 9-to-5 schedule can feel suffocating.
Leaking air conditioner? Broken office chair? Empty pantry? A computer constantly showing the blue screen of death? It’s the company’s responsibility to take care of all of these and more. This can be incredibly draining on resources, especially for small businesses and startups.
Employees working at a traditional office can miss out on opportunities to build strong, lasting professional relationships with other companies.
What are coworking spaces?
Coworking spaces are environments where different companies or freelancers share the same workspace while working toward their separate goals.
Coworking spaces are quickly overtaking the traditional office setup. Almost 20,000 coworking spaces are now available around the world as of 2022. It’s come a long way since it was formed in 1995 in Berlin, Germany. Then, 17 engineers gathered to create a non-profit group with all the facilities and opportunities necessary to grow individually.
It wasn’t until 1999, however, that American game designer and author Bernard DeKoven coined the term “coworking.” He used it to describe the way people would work, not the place where they would work. He hoped for people to collaborate while working instead of following a certain hierarchy.
A couple of Austrian entrepreneurs founded the first actual “coworking space” in 2002 inside an old factory in Vienna. There, entrepreneurs were able to collaborate no matter their background.
Since then, the demand for coworking spaces has come not just from individual freelancers and entrepreneurs but from larger organizations as well. This trend shows no sign of stopping.
Why coworking spaces thrive in the pandemic
There are several reasons more and more businesses and freelancers are embracing coworking spaces, and these include:
1. Flexibility – Working from home can be too distracting while working at a traditional office can be too rigid. Both can lead to low productivity. In a coworking space, professionals don’t have to adhere to fixed work hours. They can also choose where to work (whether at a private desk, a shared desk, or a recreational space).
2. Extra amenities/activities – Traditional offices are often exactly that: traditional and old. Coworking spaces are built specifically for a more productive, comfortable work experience. This could include specially designed meeting rooms, ergonomic seating, private booths, well-stocked kitchens, recreational areas like gyms, and high-speed internet. They also often allow 24/7 access to the coworking space for members.
3. Fewer expenses – Businesses can save on rent and maintenance of facilities because they’d be sharing these costs with others. This would allow them to save more of their budget for their growth rather than on utilities. They would also be free to end their coworking space membership anytime according to their situation.
4. Opportunity to network – Working at a coworking space can mean sharing a desk with another professional. You might even find opportunities to collaborate or find mentors in a workplace with people of varied backgrounds. The possibilities are endless in a coworking space, with new people and businesses coming in practically every day.
5. Location – One of the advantages of working from home is being able to work wherever one wants. This advantage is also available to businesses and freelancers who avail of memberships at a coworking space. Usually, it would have several branches at prime locations. You could work where you want without falling into the trap of your bedroom.
Coworking spaces post-pandemic
Indeed coworking spaces have become the obvious solution for businesses, startups, and freelancers post-pandemic. Here’s how the business is responding to this demand.
Considering coworking spaces reached peak popularity during the pandemic, safety is still everyone’s top concern. Open, outdoor spaces are likely to be more common, encouraging healthy air and social distancing.
As the world continues to take more eco-friendly initiatives, coworking spaces might make use of more sustainable materials. This should be evident in terms of infrastructure and decor, such as bamboo as well as indoor plants.
More and more office spaces, coworking spaces included, are expected to change with the times. They are expected adopt high-end technology such as artificial intelligence for more fruitful work in line with the future.
Find a coworking space near you
Since 2019, Weremote has been a leading coworking space in the Philippines. It has become an advocate platform for everyone from freelancers to small businesses, offering the infrastructure necessary for highly efficient work.
With branches in Alabang (Orange Suites), BGC (One Park Drive and High Street), Ortigas (Metrowalk Complex), and Makati (MyTown New York, Poblacion, P. Burgos, mySTAY North East, and soon MyTown LA), Weremote is everywhere you’d want to be to build your network and your business.
Contact Weremote now so you can take part in the future of work, with or without the pandemic.