Find Happiness Working Alone – With People

by Jennifer Sigler | June 1, 2017 | Workhappy Blog

Co-working doesn’t have to mean co-dependence. You can still flex your entrepreneurial muscles while collaborating with others.

The spaces in which we work heavily influence both our productivity and overall happiness.

We love to talk about flexible workspaces around here, and so it’s only natural to highlight a growing trend in the American workforce: Co-working spaces.

Co-working spaces are special. They foster supportive communities for creative collaboration at its best while offering freelancers and the self-employed a space outside of their homes to get things done. Not too shabby.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, co-working spaces are professional offices where freelancers, remote workers and other “solopreneurs” can crush it amongst each other in the same setting, for a small membership fee.

While amenities vary, if you are a new entrepreneur focused on building your business, co-working space may be the perfect avenue for meeting with clients in a professional setting (many co-working spaces offer conference rooms with technology setup for teleconferencing).

The concept is so popular, in fact, that residential developers are taking notice and adding them to the list of amenities in luxury uptown buildings.

And if you have ever worked freelance or started your own business, their appeal is immediate:

You get out of the house.

Working in your home can be nice, but it can also be full of distractions — and lonely. And while a change of scenery in a coffee shop can work, it is less than ideal if you need to make a call. Co-working spaces offer professionalism. They offer quiet and they offer a space far away from your living room.

You get to be around other hard-working people.

In co-working spaces, you get to work alongside other professionals working toward their own goals — and being around like-minded people will keep you focused. This is not say that the coffee-shop cohort does not have people diligently chipping away at their passion project, but you definitely weed out the undergrads “working” on their term paper/watching YouTube videos of falling goats, and the after-yoga crowd getting their half-caf, no foam, with whip cappuccinos.

So it’s a solid win.

You get to network with these other hard-working people.

Many co-working spaces are tailored to different industries and personalities, so the networking opportunity — especially to those who don’t often have organic occasions to meet up with other professionals frequently – is invaluable. Some co-working spaces event host social events to encourage networking among their inhabitants.

THE ARCHITECTURE OF HAPPINESS

Is there a takeaway for traditional office spaces?

Research published by the Harvard Business Review points to yes. According to a 2012 report on sustainable employees, personnel who thrive — those who are engaged in their work and in the company they work for, not merely satisfied — have a lead on job happiness. They exhibit 16 percent better overall performance and a shocking 125 percent less burnout.

And people who belong to a co-working space report levels of “thriving” an average of 6 on a 7-point scale — a solid point higher than employees who report to a traditional office every day.

So what gives?

The physical architecture of co-working spaces – open, coffee house-esque seating along with traditional offices, a stocked kitchen and conference space – is great, but that is not the type of architecture I’m talking about. (Although many big companies are designing their headquarters in more of a “campus” vibe than in traditional office format we are used to seeing.)

I’m speaking of the architecture of the work culture.

Co-working spaces provide structure and encouragement to the independent professional’s career. People want to be part of a community and connect with others, which is why people are willing to pay to work in a shared environment.

The atmosphere of work culture is changing and research has shown that companies that help their employees build connections beyond office meetings and water-cooler hangouts attract and retain more devoted and engaged employees.

And while remote work has its advantages, collaboration among employees is often essential to innovation and building your business. Therefore, analyzing your business’ work environment is key to its success. A solid mentorship program, opportunities for additional training or career advancement, and sponsored networking events are all great aspects of a healthy work culture.

And if you think co-working spaces are just for freelancers and “solopreneurs” — think again.

Big businesses are embracing innovation centers in their own business models. If you follow along with us every week, you might remember a little shout-out in our WorkHappy Wrap to Under Armour. The company has recently expanded its Baltimore “City Garage” to include a maker’s space and incubator with community access to training and industrial grade technology in order to help develop a new generation’s ideas into a reality.

There is no doubt that co-working spaces are a relevant concept to everyone — including corporate offices. Professionals want flexibility, community and professional engagement. They want a well-designed space in which to perform their work in ways that are meaningful.

Happy professionals make engaged — and committed — employees.

Jennifer Sigler is a Senior Writer with The UpWrite Group. Send a message to services@TheUpWriteGroup.com to see how she can help enhance your corporate or personal brand.

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