The coronavirus pandemic is decidedly not funny; however, some of the realities of a typically in-office workforce & coworking space business being thrust into remote work for the foreseeable future has spurred a lot of self-deprecating, but insightful humor.

Conference call bingo. Video calls reminiscent of the Brady Bunch’s opening song. Business casual on a painfully new level.

And while working at home to curb the spread of a deadly virus is in no way the same as typical remote working, the experience sheds light both on why heading into an office is so beneficial for many, and also why flexibility is so critical for professionals.

As you take a break from your Netflix binging, consider these 15 clarifications on coworking to help you understand what coworking is – and isn’t.

    1. Coworking is as much about work as it is the social ‘co’ aspect. It’s easy to get caught up in all the community perks of coworking spaces, but bells and whistles aside, you need to be able to functionally complete your work in the space you choose.
    2. Coworking isn’t just a rented desk. Even with a membership that has you in the building infrequently (like Hexa’s YVO), coworking spaces are an entire ecosystem of support, helping you propel your business forward whether or not you’re in the building. From telephone answer services to networking events and directories, coworking spaces do far more than prop up your laptop.
    3. Coworking isn’t a fad. Coworking as an industry continues to expand, seeing double-digit growth in 2018 (15.2%) and jumping up another 9.5% in 2019, according to Coworking Resources.
    4. Coworking isn’t just for startups. While the lower overhead tends to draw entrepreneurs to coworking spaces, in the last few years major corporations, including Microsoft, GE, Dell, SalesForce, and Deutsche Bank have turned to coworking as well.
    5. Coworking is for businesses looking to grow. Hand-in-hand with the entrepreneurs-only stereotype is the idea that coworking spaces are only a fit for small businesses who plan to stay small. In fact, with venture studies and accelerators integrated into the coworking ecosystem, many businesses are expected to grow in a coworking space. Co-Founder and Chief Social Officer of Fueled Collective and Entrepreneur contributor Don Ball said in a recent survey of members at his coworking space, most businesses expected to add employees in the coming year: 40 percent expected to hire 1-2 people, 27 percent expected to hire 3-5 people, and 10 percent expected to hire 6 or more.
    6. WeWork’s Challenges aren’t universal in the industry. WeWork’s losses, which the Wall Street Journal described as “ballooning” have garnered significant attention, causing many to wonder if the coworking chain’s inability to turn a profit is a sign for the industry at large. While WeWork is certainly a household name, the coworking industry has been in the U.S. for decades, and some estimates say about a third (30%) of buildings by 2030 will be dedicated t amenity and flexible space.
    7. Coworking spaces can provide more stability. For a model that touts flexibility, it may seems counter intuitive to also reference stability. But it’s in the flexibility of the model that businesses – and their budgets – can find better stability. Shorter lease terms and flexible models allow businesses to pivot more quickly to sudden changes, whether that’s a need to cut back on fixed costs or to rapidly expand. And that flexibility in costs provides better stability for the businesses’ bottom line.
    8. The age of coworkers is on the rise. Although we don’t think age has a lot to do with business savvy, innovation, or success, coworking tends to have a reputation that it’s exclusive to ambitious twenty-somethings. It’s true that 65% of people in coworking spaces are younger than 40, but the median age is on the rise, moving from 33.5 in 2012 to 35 in 2017. And, 12% of coworkers are older than 50.
    9. Coworking isn’t distracting – it’s motivating. One of the biggest concerns leveraged at a coworking model is the idea of distraction in a non-traditional space. In practice, many coworkers found the model had just the opposite effect. In a GCUC survey, 84% of coworkers said they felt more motivated and 69% said they gained new skills and refined existing skills since joining a coworking space.
    10. Coworking spaces can offer great meeting spots. Don’t let the great casual aspects of a coworking space deter you from capitalizing on its ability to host very professional events. The ability to reserve a conference room and enjoy the latest technology can enable a very successful, and professional, event.
    11. Coworking doesn’t just connect you with work buddies – it offers a professional network. In a coworking space, you’ll meet like-minded people, often with a wide variety of backgrounds, skills, and experience, who can broaden your network. 82% of respondents reported having expanded their professional network since joining a coworking space in a Smallbiz survey.
    12. Coworking can make you happy. As professionals try to meet the loneliness epidemic head-on and reduce isolation (present situation notwithstanding), research shows coworking spaces may provide an excellent solution. In a recent survey, 89% of people said they felt happier since joining a coworking space; 83% said they are less lonely.
    13. Coworking doesn’t have to be a temporary solution. While in some instances a coworking space may be a temporary fix during an office remodel or major project, coworking spaces can also provide a balanced, supportive environment the nurtures its members both as professionals and individuals and keeps them around for years to come.
    14. Coworking spaces are organized by community managers. In coworking spaces, members aren’t left to fend for themselves. Instead, community managers, much like an HR rep, oversee the community, helping to facilitate connections.
    15. Coworking spaces are good for the economy. Coworking spaces that help cultivate talent at home, and keep entrepreneurs from being forced to relocate for a better opportunity. In turn, these businesses support other small businesses, both the area surrounding businesses and other growing businesses they may partner with. Cutting down on commuting also means cutting down on environmental impact – an added bonus!

If you still need some clarity on coworking or want to hear what it’s all about from people who’ve been there as budding entrepreneurs and experienced business leaders, we’d love to talk to you about HEXA, and how it can meet your businesses’ needs. Contact hexa@hexatx.com to learn more.

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