Contributing writer, Jade Chen (Columbia University, Class of ’22), shares her white paper on how coworking spaces can be integral for hiring and retaining talent.
Over the past 10 years, the traditional concept of the workplace has been changing rapidly. WeWork, founded in 2010, is now the largest office lease tenant in New York City. The trend of agile/activity-based working (ABW) has proven to increase workers productivity across all levels within a company. Companies are turning towards creating desirable workplaces that appeal to employee values in order to captivate and retain qualified candidates.
In this paper, we discuss the various factors that affect how employees look for employers, how companies can attract and maintain productive employees, and why coworking is a popular option for the present and future workplace.
Part I: Defining the optimal values.
Below are the top 10 values for happiness on the job, as defined by Boston Consulting Group:
Appreciation for your work
- Good relationships with colleagues
- Good life-work balance
Good relationships with superiors
- Company’s financial stability
- Learning and career development
- Job security
- Attractive fixed salary
- Interesting job content
- Company values
Part II: Location, Culture, and how they are intertwined.
The Right Location:
Employees are not just focused on their careers anymore — they also want to broaden their life experiences and have an enriching personal life alongside their job. The geographic location of a company can improve job satisfaction since it defines the employee’s life experience both inside and outside of work.
Urban cities remain the most desired locations for work. A survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that the top 3 most appealing cities to work in were London, New York, and Paris. These urban cities are global centers that are well known for their cultural richness and business hubs. New York alone has 3 million foreign-born people, making it one of the biggest foreign-born populations of any city in the world. It is full of the cultural amenities that contribute to everyday satisfaction for employees — theaters, museums, concerts, live music, and more.
Companies located near convenient and accessible transportation will broaden their recruitment audience, attracting more talent from more areas. Having different transportation options open opportunities for employees to have an easier commute from more suburban and affordable areas. Being within close proximity of restaurants and markets also means employees can eat locally, helping to strengthen their connections with both their colleagues and the city.
Part III: Defining flexibility – what it means for companies and employees.
While urban locations may be on the pricier end of a budget, there are other options that can provide the same benefits of a great location at a more affordable price. Coworking spaces offer more flexible pricing options, allowing companies to pay monthly rents, or even purchase day passes.
Coworking spaces also take time and size flexibility into consideration when they rent spaces out to companies. They cater to many different sized companies, offering open desk options to freelancers, private offices for growth phase companies, and even dedicated floors for medium-sized companies. They are able to accommodate growth or downsizes flexibility, allowing companies to find pricing and size options that change along with the company needs. Additionally, employees are able to come in and out to work as they see fit, without strict hours that limit the accessibility of the office.
Flexibility is increasingly essential with more and more people requesting remote work. Among the 18,000 business professionals across 96 countries surveyed by Switzerland based serviced office provider IWG, 70% of professionals work remotely at least once a week, and 53% work remotely at least half of the week. The number of remote workers is increasing exponentially as people are finding more job satisfaction and productivity in working where they are comfortable.
While working remotely means an increase of freedom for employees, it also means working in isolation. Instead, a number of remote employees choose to work in coworking spaces, rather than home, for a more professional and social environment. Employees are able to escape the seclusion of individual work by having a network to have discussions and exchanges with. People are social beings, and having an office environment to interact in helps uplift mood and productivity. Companies experience a heightened level of creativity and productivity when working in the presence of other dedicated employees.
While coworking is very popular with freelancers, startups, and small businesses, larger companies are adopting the new work style too. Microsoft moved 30% of its sales department to coworking spaces, and Amazon’s Boston office is located inside coworking company WeWork. In 2017, HSBC rented out more than 300 open desks from coworking spaces in Hong Kong.
Part IV: Pulling it All Together; Creating the Optimal Workspace Culture
One of the top values that contribute to employee job satisfaction is an appreciation for one’s work. Unfortunately, many employees experience limited satisfaction due to the constraints of toxic work culture, a major factor of voluntary turnover. Increased stress levels, decreased mental and physical health, and low motivation is only some of the detriments of toxic work cultures. In fact, health care expenditures at high-pressure companies are nearly 50% greater than at other organizations, and stress is the reason for 80% of doctor visits today (Harvard Business Review). Creating a healthy work environment that encourages happiness and productivity on the job is just as important as attracting talented employees.
Well-being increases productivity
Concentrating on improving the general well-being and health of employees will have a direct impact on their productivity. Rather than providing material benefits, employees prefer to have an inspiring workplace culture where they can maintain a good work-life balance and build good relationships with their colleagues and superiors.
Research done at UMichigan shows that inspiring one another at work and emphasizing the meaningfulness of work helps boost morale. Offers like flex time provide employees the freedom and trust that allows them to create their best work in comfort. The opportunity to collaborate with others in a friendly and productive manner encourages the creativity and high-quality output that gives a sense of purpose to one’s work. Creating a team-oriented atmosphere eases the traditional hierarchy that may be constricting to those at the lower end of the spectrum, motivating individuals at different experience levels to do more than the bare minimum. Employees who feel comfortable consulting empathetic superiors will be more invested in their work, and more open to discussing creative ideas and solutions.
A workplace that emphasizes a strong sense of community and belonging sets up a desirable atmosphere and work ethic. Because the community is a core value, employees find that coworking boosts their mood and efficiency. Being surrounded by other companies generates a combination of energy, ambition, and drive that inspires employees towards creativity and productivity. A recent DeskMag survey found that 85% of people based in coworking spaces felt more motivated on the job.
The open environment allows employees to step away from internal politics and limits direct competition within a company. Employees don’t feel as if they have to put on a work persona to fit in and work from a traditional cubicle, making their work more distinctive and interesting. The option to work from different spaces throughout the day is good for staying focused, switching up workflows, and gaining new perspectives. The community environment encourages employees to get up and recharge when needed, and the group synergy helps employees effectively maximize both well-being and productivity.
Purposeful Office Design:
Office design is more than just an aesthetic. Though subtle, the physical workspace is the foundation for the office atmosphere even before employees step in. Making the right decisions can bring a noticeable boost to how an office functions.
An office with generous lighting will brighten up the space, and it can promote healthy sleep schedules. Employees will feel more comfortable in their environment, and the well-lit office can be key to stimulating energy and motivation. Choosing lighter colors for the office theme will have a similar effect, recreating the open and light ambiance of a rooftop space.
Placing plants around the office will introduce a subtle but effective calming agent to the environment. Greenery can help relieve eye strain and act as a natural break from the corporate atmosphere. A study conducted by Exeter University found that employees were 15% more productive in offices with plants, and 85% agreed that plants help decrease stress levels.
Now that we’ve finished breaking down different methodologies for hiring and retaining talented employees, we can see why the coworking industry has moved from being a trend to being an international phenomenon. Coworking has continuously met the needs of companies of all different sizes and is combining flexibility, productivity, community, and well-being into a unique culture appealing to employees today. More and more companies are adopting this as an office standard – optimizing the intersection of job satisfaction and employee productivity.
To learn more about the best-practices Workville’s disruptors employ for hiring talent, email firstname.lastname@example.org.