How Sharing Economy Improves Employee Performance and Happiness
As a group, millennials are known for their digital fluency, their ever-progressive expectations and their partially shaved haircuts. They also have a reputation for destruction; a quick check of popular Google searches shows that they’re destroying vacation time, the United States, and the world simultaneously. While there is plenty of blame to pass around, one thing millennials are definitely responsible for is the deconstruction of the traditional workplace.
Millennials aren’t accepting the same tedious 60-80 hour work weeks that their parents did. They value opportunities that link their passions to their work and have high standards concerning their work environment. One of the things they demand most is flexibility: they want to be able to work at convenient times in enjoyable atmospheres and prefer low-stress, high autonomy positions over the inside-the-box industry standard – even if they offer higher salaries. They are expected to be 75% of the workforce by 2025 and it’s becoming clear that Generation Y is struggling to fit in with the cookie cutter of the orthodox office set. However, instead of forcing themselves into the industry’s mold, they’re carving out a new one.
Sharing economy and coworking spaces are the latest innovation attracting crowds of millennials employees. In these shared spaces, ideas flow freely instead of falling flat in three-walled cubicle graveyards. The spirit of community is abound and valuable networking occurs almost automatically in ordinary conversation. With so many assorted people working in the same space, the CEO of a new start-up could meet the freelance graphic designer he’s been looking for all while walking down the hall.
Part of the allure of coworking is the community: being surrounded by passionate people in an open and creative environment. They’re spaces that allow freelancers, entrepreneurs, independent contractors and even job seekers to connect and collaborate naturally while they grow and learn from each other.
One of the reasons that millennials choose coworking spaces over conventional offices is the variety of style and atmosphere in coworking offices. For example, Betahaus Café, a coworking facility with locations worldwide, has been curated with diversity in mind. Members of the Betahaus Café have access to lots of different rooms and ambiances: ultra-mod or retro indoor offices, quiet or more sociable rooms, and even outdoor terraces and green spaces to help each member get their work done in a way suitable for them.
Spacebase picked a few coworkers to interview about their favorite aspect of coworking and their answers came back with a wide spectrum of reasons. Marta Rechul, the blogger behind Tutor Compass, said that having a variety of spaces to work at is one of the most important aspects of a sharing a space for her and she usually goes for open rooms with no traces of the ancestral cubicle structure. She loves the range of coworking spaces available and being surrounded by an active community.
“I worked at home for a long time, but at home you are completely alone and you have a difficulty to be disciplined. It’s very difficult to get up in the morning, get your work done and do some sport after. If you are alone, in your flat, everyday is the same thing; you don’t have changes, inspirations. So, I needed to go out. It’s not possible for me to work only from home.”
But coworking spaces aren’t just for bloggers and freelancers; part of their magic is their ability to bring all types of people to neighboring desks. Glyn Thomas is a digital strategy consultant for More Onion, a non-profit digital agency based in London and Vienna. Not only does he rent out a desk when he comes to Berlin, but also works from a coworking space with his colleagues in London and Vienna. Coworking fits his business beautifully, as the company doesn’t have its own office and he spends much of his time traveling.
Coworking spaces have also seen the birth and subsequent growth of many start-ups. When starting a business, “it’s nice to have different perspectives of one thing and being in contact with other people,” says Lisa Jaspers of Berlin. She works for a start-up/NGO called Pen Paper Peace and comes to the Betahaus Café about four times a week. Every time people meet in coworking spaces, casual conversation has the possibility to lead to original business ideas and solutions completely organically.
“I like [coworking spaces] more because if something is stuck in your head, you can discuss it more, just right in the moment, across the table. I think it really benefits if someone offers you another perspective and that’s helpful. Generally, it feels good to be in an environment that you feel constantly stimulated by people who are working. The social aspect is nicer.” – Andrew. 21, New York. Student.
With so many benefits offered by coworking, employees aren’t the only ones capitalizing. Corporations have begun seeing these shared spaces for the gold mines of creativity and innovation that they are. Companies such as Microsoft, IBM, HCL and Deutsche Bank have begun building “innovation centers” to expand their digital competencies. At these locations, these companies will be working together to support financial sector start-ups in an incubating situation; the companies provide coworking space to the new professionals in exchange for help expanding their digital banking presence and services. These companies recognize the value of supporting employees in these hyper-innovational and creative solution centers.
The rising popularity of coworking spaces has lead to many companies using them as a business strategy, which suggests that the combination of a well-designed workplace and a comfortable work experience is a key factor for employee performance. With the flexibility of nearly all working factors, it is easy to feel relaxed and concentrated, a state which yields higher quality work from employees. The creative spirit of communal work spaces and the enjoyable atmospheres make these spaces very effective, while also providing a lucrative possibility to network casually.
So – are millennials as needy as the internet claims? Generation Y may be responsible for demanding more from the workplace – but it’s all with a greater aim in mind: diversified collaboration, easier and more frequent networking, and of course, the finished product, high quality work from happier employees.
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