The Collaboration Revolution: Why Shared Office Space is more relevant now than ever before
There is no doubt that the landscape of office culture has changed significantly over the last number of years. The rigidity of a 9-5 existence and a stiff corporate environment has been largely eroded in favour of flexibility and adaptability.
The WFH (Working From Home) approach many companies were forced to adopt during the Covid 19 pandemic caused a rethink of the relevance of office space in its wake, with some questioning whether there was a need for office accommodation at all.
However, what has become more apparent is the rising significance of shared office spaces in attracting staff back to office environments. Business owners have increasingly realised the significance of high quality office space in achieving this shift – with many now moving to superior environments to help lure staff away from the home working model.
With the flexibility they provide, the lack of commitment to long-term leases required and the collaborative environments they achieve, shared spaces are undoubtedly here to stay.
This blog will explore the rise in popularity of shared office accommodation, the factors that have contributed to this development and an exploration of the benefits of shared office space.
The shift away from Fixed Office Spaces
The traditional approach to office accommodation was to have dedicated, standalone office accommodation for each organisation. This was often a high-risk approach, especially for fledgling companies which were forced to commit to long term leases with no flexibility on payment structure, despite the often perilous demands of early business life. It is reported that around 60% of businesses in the UK fail within the first 3 years, and very often this can be due to rent and rates strangling a company’s chances of success from early days.
Shared office accommodation is not a new concept. The trend towards co-working began as early as the mid noughties (2000s) in response to the changing needs of a modern workforce. Several factors contributed to this shift:
The Rise of the Startup: The popularity of entrepreneurship experienced a surge during the 2000s, with a booming economy and the societal and government support for small business improving. In Northern Ireland, for example, Invest NI and its famous ‘Go For It’ campaign began life during this era to stimulate economic growth in an area traditionally very heavily reliant on the public sector for jobs. With this move came the need for affordable office solutions which offered flexibility to cope with the demands of young businesses. Shared office solutions provided the perfect solution to help support dynamic business owners in their early days especially.
Advancement in Technology: Changing technological capabilities has caused a shift in working culture. No longer are businesses confined by traditional business models of fixed office spaces. Increasingly sophisticated devices and software capabilities, together with improving internet speeds mean it’s now possible for individuals to work from virtually anywhere!
Shifting Mindsets: The modern workforce is less willing to accept a fixed mentality when it comes to working hours. More and more you’ll find employees – and employers – citing ‘work-life’ balance a non-negotiable. Add to this the importance of networking and surrounding oneself with diverse professionals who can help expand skill sets and inspire a new way of thinking and it’s easy to see why shared office spaces tick a lot of boxes for people.
The Rise of Globalisation: As businesses move into international mode and expand their businesses across the globe – which proudly many of our home-grown businesses have – flexible office solutions gain even greater importance. Shared office spaces can offer a business a network of locations across many cities, allowing them to establish a presence in new markets more easily.
The benefits of Shared Office Accommodation
The benefits of a shared office environment are numerous, but we’ve done our best to summarise them into a top ten as follows:
1. ‘Plug and Play’ – the ease of set up
Don’t under-estimate the time and effort that can be expended in seeking and finding traditional office space solutions, never mind the expense of then having to decorate and furnish to your requirements. The ‘plug and play’ approach offered by a shared office environment removes the need for weeks of preparation and moving time, creating a more seamless transition for you, your employees and importantly for your customers too. With fully furnished offices, high speed internet connections and coffee on the brew, Formation Works spaces are ready for you to get straight down to business!
2. A cost-effective solution
Long leases in the early stages of a business can be strangling. Many of the 60% of businesses which go ‘under’ in their first 3 years will do so because they fall victim to inflexible office space charges. With a shared office solution, you can avoid the long-term commitment, taking a space which is enough to service your current space needs, and adding to it as your business grows.
3. Networking Opportunities
This might well be one of the greatest benefits of a shared working environment and is certainly one repeatedly cited by Formation Works members as a primary positive in their experience of a collaborative workspace. The opportunity to network and knowledge-share with other like-minded individuals is golden. A shared environment facilitates this easily – a simple conversation at the coffee machine can spark a new collaboration or open doors for you – it really does happen. Indeed many global companies will deliberately place employees in shared working environments to enable them to absorb new and innovative ideas from people to whom they wouldn’t normally have such easy access.
If you’re in any doubt of this advantage, talk to some Formation Works members or read their stories here. We’ve seen it all here – introductions made, client relationships building, joint ventures secured – these buildings really are a hive of entrepreneurship, and we LOVE to see it.
4. Achieving Balance
A 9-5 approach to office working seems almost archaic at this stage, but many will admit that a full-time ‘working from home’ model is not as beneficial as it may seem. Shared workspaces epitomise flexibility – combining the advantages of a work from home feel with the structure and culture of a collaborative space. Formation Works members are constantly on the go and it all leads to a bustling energy in these spaces.
5. Utility Bills – Sorted
Bills, bills, bills. Moving to a new office space is an expensive and complicated business. The financial burden is one thing, but the administrative aspect of connecting utilities, selecting and connecting internet providers, sourcing and purchasing office equipment is all incredibly time consuming and can easily distract away from customer focus.
A shared office agreement means all of these bills are included in your monthly fee – sometimes even as far as tea and coffee, printing supplies and mail services. Less admin time, greater certainty of outgoings and more time to focus on running your business – what’s not to love?!
6. Fuelling Growth
Growth. Ask any business owner what their focus is and most will tell you this one within the first few words. Regardless of the size of your business, a collaborative workspace can help you scale your business in a manageable way. Whether your focus is in expanding into new markets or perhaps you’re opening offices in several locations in a short space of time; shared workspaces can provide a practical and cohesive working environment to allow your employees to hit the ground running.
Many Formation Works members have enjoyed impressive growth levels, facilitated by our flexible approach to workspaces. Some have scaled from one small office, to acquiring additional units to then moving into bespoke larger units as the business has grown – all under the same Formation Works roof. If you can dream it, we can make it happen!
7. Meeting Spaces to Knock their Socks Off!
For many sole traders and small companies, finding a suitable space to meet clients or present ideas and pitches to potential new customers is where they come unstuck. Home offices or coffee shops don’t really cut it when it comes to striking the right impression, and don’t achieve the required level of privacy.
Shared meeting facilities in collaborative workspaces allow you to create an impressive meeting backdrop for customers, assuring them of your professionalism and giving that all important positive impression on them.
8. No Strings Attached
Lack of rigidity is an attractive option for many entrepreneurs and the opportunity to enjoy modern office space with no strings attached makes coworking spaces the ideal solution to achieve this flexibility. Formation Works facilities offer a variety of office solutions like fixed desks, private office and even the potential for hot desking – allowing complete flexibility to accommodate your needs.
9. 24 Hour Access
We’re certainly not advocating working around the clock, but having 24 hour access to your office building means you can truly build your working hours around your family life. Whether working on late night pitches, or heading to the office early to get some uninterrupted time on a project before colleagues and employees arrive for the day, it’s of great benefit to know you can build your working day around your schedule and that of your staff. Having a security guard in place helps bring that much needed piece of mind, especially during hours of darkness.
10. A Truly Tailored Business Solution
Despite the obvious shared nature of a collaborative workspace, your flexible office solution can still afford you the opportunity to put your own stamp on your workspace. Create a working environment that truly defines your own company values and suits the needs of your business. There are many ways to do this – from reconfiguring your existing space, through adding your own soft furnishings and artwork to adding your company branding like your logo on the doorplate. Shared workspaces should not prevent you from making your brand presence known to those around you.
So there you have it. All the reasons why shared office accommodation rose in popularity, and all the benefits it brings to so many individuals and businesses.
As our priorities for balance and flexibility remain to the fore, so too will the prevalence of shared working environment. These modern, collaborative spaces provide a valuable asset for organisations of all sizes and forward-thinking entrepreneurs would do well to consider such spaces to give a home to their business venture and facilitate its growth.
If you’re won over by the prospect of a shared office solution, why not contact our team. We’d love to hear from you.