Workspace: Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces

April 26th, 2016

coworking workplace

A recent report published in the Harvard Business Review, Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces, stated workers in shared offices (coworking spaces) reported they were “thriving” so much that researchers “had to look at the data again.” Piquing curiosity researchers Gretchen Spreitzer, Peter Bacevice and Lyndon Garrett wanted to find out if there are lessons to be learned for more traditional offices. The researchers point out, what seems to matter  the most for high levels of thriving is that people who cowork have substantial autonomy and can be themselves at work. And the mix of a well-designed work environment and a well-curated work experience are important.

Three substantial predictors of thriving:

  • People who use coworking spaces see their work as meaningful.

Aside from the type of work they’re doing – freelancers get to choose the projects they work on, for example — the people they surveyed reported finding meaning in the fact that they could bring their whole selves to work. They’re able to do this in a few ways the authors point out.

A) Unlike a traditional office, coworking spaces consist of members who work for a variety of different companies and industries. Since there is little direct competition, they often don’t feel they have to put on a work persona to fit in.

B) Meaning may also come from working in a culture where it is the norm to help each other out.

C) Lastly, meaning may also be derived from: The social mission inherent in the Coworking Manifesto, an online document signed by members of more than 1,900 working spaces.

  • They have more job control.

People can decide whether to put in a long day when they have a deadline or can decide to take a long break in the middle of the day. And while coworkers value freedom, the authors also learned that they equally value some form of structure in their professional lives.

  •  They feel part of a community.

Connections with others are a big reason why people pay to work in a communal space.

So what does this mean for traditional companies?

Even though the coworking movement has its origins among freelancers, entrepreneurs, and the tech industry, it’s increasingly relevant for a broader range of people and organizations. An large number of companies are incorporating coworking into their business strategies from startups to large enterprise companies

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