Remote work is no longer a solitary affair—or, at least, it doesn't have to be. While the phrase "remote work" conjures images of pajama-clad workers typing on their laptops from the comfort of their sofas, location independence doesn’t necessarily mean working from home. Coworking companies such as Spacious and WeWork are providing workplaces for Remote and DeskPlus employees in ever-growing numbers. And these employees aren't just using coworking spaces for their wifi and free coffee: Many are also reaping social and networking opportunities from these shared environments.
Deskmag estimates there will be 1.7 million coworking members worldwide by the end of 2018, more than three times the number at the end of 2015. And the firm also reveals there were 10 times more coworking spaces worldwide in 2016 than there were just five years prior, and the average coworking space in 2018 has 12 percent more members, 16 percent more desks, and 19 percent more square feet than it did in 2017.
So why are so many people signing up for coworking memberships? For some of these workers, coworking spaces offer structure to the workday and an escape from the distractions of home. Deskmag says 74 percent of ex-home office workers reported being more productive at coworking spaces.
For others, coworking spaces represent a forum for the exchange of ideas, sort of a 21st-century watercooler. According to Deskmag's research, 59 percent of members cite a coworking spaces' social atmosphere as a deciding factor, 56 percent go for the interaction with others, and 55 percent go for the community. For Remote workers who feel isolated working from home offices, these coworking spaces provide boosts to morale and productivity. In fact, as of 2017, 45 percent of the people Deskmag interviewed had worked at home prior their membership at a coworking space, suggesting these spaces are preferable to home offices for many Remote and DeskPlus workers.
"Remote workers and location independent professionals can optimize the freedom that they have to live really extraordinary lives," Coworkation founder Stuart Jones explains to Forbes contributor Tomas Laurinavicius. "A larger degree of freedom to work from where and when they want gives an opportunity to design lifestyles in unique and creative ways. Routines, timetables, and life systems can be structured in a way that is tailored to fit your needs and interests."
As a result, many coworking spaces cultivate socialization among their members, varied as those members may be. WeWork's mission statement, for example, says the founders "wanted to build more than beautiful, shared office spaces. We wanted to build a community. A place you join as an individual, 'me,' but where you become part of a greater 'we.' … Community is our catalyst."
Because coworking spaces put such varied professionals in close proximity, they also put an emphasis on the inherent networking opportunities. In addition to luring new customers with the mobility, affordability, and hospitality of its memberships, Spacious also offers the prospect of "new connections" at its New York City and San Francisco locations, many of which are off-hours restaurants. "Make new connections and build your career as part of a thriving community of mobile, flexible professionals," the Spacious website reads. (A few of our team members worked from Spacious locations in New York City during our first "remote week" earlier this summer—read about their experience here.)
Plus, the physical environment of coworking spaces can often attract members. Of the 3,500 office professionals polled in the 2018 Capital One Work Environment Study, 85 perfect believed flexible workplace design is important, and 83 percent said they have their best ideas when working in flexible work spaces. Additionally, social areas, quiet spaces, and healthy onsite food and beverage options—all of which are offered at many coworking spaces—ranked among top priorities for respondents.
Werk is all about flexibility at work, empowering employees to achieve peak productivity through time and location-based modifications to the workday. If getting out of the house and into coworking spaces helps these employees max out their productivity, that's a valuable modification. If those coworking spaces then introduce them to new contacts and collaborators, even better.