Coworking spaces are a popular choice for start-ups, micro-businesses, and freelance workers for a good reason. They allow workers to cut the cost of office rentals and equipment, and enable them to work surrounded by others, rather than isolated at home. Large companies need their own physical office space, but can better harness the potential of their teams by learning from the 3Cs of coworking space.
1. Community. Coworking spaces allow people to be in an environment with others who may not be typically connected in another situation. Companies carefully select their members to ensure that they build a community for like-minded individuals. Some even cater to specific niche groups such as working moms, artists, or entrepreneurs. Sharing space fosters a sense of community among their members, which can further enrich the experience by providing expertise, creating a sense of belonging, or even nurturing business opportunities.
Often times, large companies divide their office space by functionality, so that teams feel connected. The IT team is together, but separated from marketing, which is in a different location than sales. Despite the good intentions, this can reinforce a functional silo mentality and limit the effectiveness of your teams. Instead, MNCs may want to consider space that is organised around interest groups, project teams, or customer teams, creating a micro-community with a common goal. Some technology companies provide workshop or maker space for individual technology projects, encouraging a sense of community across different technology groups. Others provide round table or kitchen table-like settings for project teams to encourage dialogue, brainstorming, and cross-function work. Providing more community space can help your employees connect by interest, provide a greater sense of support and belonging, and create new ideas worth exploring.
2. Choice. Coworking space provides different options for seating, including traditional desks, hubs and cafes, bar stool seating by windows, and quiet space. Just the choice of where to work, or where to sit, provides employees the freedom and flexibility to control their day, letting them work where they want, when they want, and surrounded by whom they want. Some large companies have moved to this model and find it positively impacts worker flexibility and cross-team collaboration. Keep in mind, however, this change is not merely about chairs. It means managers have to support employee choice and manage performance, not presence. They also have to be able to maintain a strong sense of team identity and connectiveness even when the teams are dispersed and have little face-to-face interaction. With the right training, however, this can be achieved, and the benefits of flexibility can be reaped.
3. Customers. Successful coworking spaces have one thing in common—a focus on their members, who are their customers. This translates to everything from thoughtfully designed spaces, sought-after ammenities, and the services available, all the way down to the coffee and the mug it's poured into. These spaces create a particular "vibe" that resonates with their target clientele. For MNCs, your environment should translate into an experience for your clients, so that they see and feel your brand no matter where they are visiting or what aspect of your office they are experiencing. Everything about your office is a touchpoint and opportunity for your customers to experience your brand, as well as feel welcomed and invited. If your employees have this cohesive experience, your customers will not only feel it, they will experience it first-hand from your employees, which will ultimately reinforce your brand.
Technology has changed the way people work today. Before, work meant going to a designated desk/cubicle with your name on it so that you could access information and a phone to complete your work. Now, people can work anywhere—a favourite neighbourhood coffee shop, the dining room table, or even an airport lounge. With the lessons from the success of coworking spaces, MNCs can make work more than just a location. They can create a community, provide employees with choice and flexibility, showcase space to customers, and create new and innovative products.