Death of the Cubical and Commute: Co-Work Space Trend

I was told by our bank that they are renovating their branch to make way for a new co-work office model. There will be no more offices eventually, and employees will simply sign in to reserve an open office as they need to service their clients. A major telecommunications company here in the city is looking at doing the same thing.

If we had a discussion, I’m sure we would see that half of us will be for co-work space while the other half would be against it. Having co-work spaces seem to make sense given our transition-like culture and how mobile we are.

The Opportunity

I think some of the excitement comes from the desire to have a better work-life balance. Working from home offers some flexibility, and it is reasonable to expect that employees are going to have more time with their families.

Think about the effect on our environment. Less commuting means less cars on the road. Without the stress of having everyone in one central location, companies could have several smaller offices catering to the suburbs rather than one large office in the city centre. Imagine the ability to drive into a satellite office sporadically rather than drive into the city. Reducing emissions would be a nice by-product of the shift.

One of the leading drivers of this model is to reduce fixed costs of office assets and office space. As office space gets more scarce, it gets expensive. Having a smaller footprint allows organizations to redirect budget to other areas that can boost the work environment when employees are in the space. The organization can invest more in team collaboration rooms, libraries, and client meeting areas.

Neutralizing the Negatives

Most people who work from home will say it is difficult because the lines between work and home life get blurred. Instead of being distracted as one would expect, employees often work longer hours. Employees that work from home can never really “leave” work. The recommendation that most people make is to ensure that there is a dedicated work space that is only for work. You walk into the office and you walk out. The more strict you are, the better.

What about team dynamics and culture? Where people get a bit fearful is the disconnection and the potential lack of collaboration. Sometimes employees just want to have the cooler talk or the lunch room chat. Having events that bring clusters of employees together would be key for keeping team relationships strong. Use technology (Google Hangouts!) to bring people together and have an informal agenda such as discussing the week ahead.

Communication will also change. Replicating the social office banter is important as innovation and ideas often come from impromptu discussion rather than in the boardroom. Having the ability to be social and share ideas will allow teams to rethink the business.

Our organization thinks that co-work and killing the commute can be a great thing. With most of our team working from their home offices, we are constantly evaluating what this looks like as TransparentC grows.

What side are you on?