In today’s workplace, flexible work environments have quickly become the norm, with both employers and employees alike embracing the many benefits. Considering that around 87% of workers are happy to take advantage of the shift to remote or flexible work, it’s clear that adaptability is the only way for business owners and managers to hold on to talent.
While full-time remote workers have become more common, many are exploring how to manage a remote team by tapping the many upsides of coworking spaces. Such hybrid solutions can provide enormous opportunities for managers, from resolving common tech issues associated with remote work to improving collaborative productivity.
Although many workers have no interest in working full-time from a generic, traditional office again, the right coworking space can offer the best of both worlds in the new economy.
How to Manage a Remote Team: Why Having Dedicated Space is Still Key
While there was some initial concern that being out of the office would hurt productivity, stats tend to show quite the opposite. In one prominent study, 40% of workers surveyed said they were more productive out of the office versus just 15% saying they were less productive. The balance of survey responders felt their productivity remained the same, suggesting that fears of remote work were a bit overblown.
But these stats also have significant limitations that keep us from understanding the upside of the hybrid work environment. From a 2021 Statista study, many workers still see significant benefits in having communal office space, including the following:
- Ability to focus on work. There are times when being productive at home is easy, but that’s certainly not always the case in many busy households. 50% of survey respondents said being able to focus on work was the number one benefit of having office space—the top response in the survey.
- Team collaboration. Of those surveyed, 43% said that collaborating with team members is the most important benefit of having dedicated office space. While video conferencing has obvious value, many still do their best collaborating in a room with other co-workers. For large projects and presentations, meeting in a physical space is likely the best way to go, with subsequent video conferencing serving as an ideal way to reinforce what was covered in the office.
- Onsite resource access. Overcoming technical deficiencies is one of the biggest issues with permanently working from home or on the go. To that end, managers have few tools to control the setup of workers who aren’t actually going into the office. Resolving technical problems can also be much more difficult, especially among workers with limited technical proficiency. With a well-suited coworking space, however, managers have the ability to ensure that workers have the right tech access and can address any recurring technical glitches that might be happening outside of the office.
- Professional space to meet with clients. Most of us have become better at staging video calls from home, but it’s still hard to compare with having the right office space. When it comes to meeting with clients, workers want to control as many elements as possible to ensure a productive session. Even if an employee will still be meeting virtually with a client, it’s often still better to have the meeting at a coworking space that is specifically suited to that purpose.
- A Work Community. Ultimately, we’re still very social creatures and many workers benefit from at least some face-to-face interaction with coworkers or others they can network with. The ability to socialize with coworkers ranked third in the Statista survey behind focusing on work and collaboration. Business consultants have even pointed out that regular in-person small talk—not about work—can be tremendously valuable to the team as a whole.
Maybe the most telling is the number of survey respondents who didn’t see the value in office space at all; only 4% of respondents didn’t see any value in having available office space. Workers clearly enjoy the ability to work remotely, but the vast majority still see a significant upside in having access to shared office space available to work out of when needed.
As to what the space should look like, a highly functional and versatile space with plenty of natural light should be the focus. While flexibility and tech capabilities are crucial these days, modern-looking workspaces with ample natural light are associated with less worker drowsiness and fewer headaches. Companies ditching long-term leases for coworking spaces often end up with better tech setups, a modern look, inspiring atmospheres, and a much more palatable capital commitment.
Managing Your Team and Maximizing the Impact of Coworking Spaces
Figuring out how to manage a remote team has plenty of challenges, many of which are entirely new. Instead of trying to come up with the perfect system, however, managers can start by trying to avoid the drawbacks of working full-time in the office.
By understanding and mitigating the negatives that are now associated with the in-office experience, there is an opportunity to limit worker stress and promote the positives of having a dedicated workspace.
One thing to focus on is the time required to be in the office. Although it won’t be feasible for every company, managers should allow as much flexibility as possible when determining when workers will need to be there.
For workers used to doing their jobs remotely, sitting in rush-hour traffic can quickly feel like the old economy. A recent survey showed that 84% of employees ranked the lack of a commute as the top benefit of working remotely.
Rather than holding traditional office hours, meeting after the rush hour drive winds down can maintain higher productivity and lower worker anxiety. Employees will be able to begin work at home as others fight traffic and then enjoy a much shorter commute to the workspace. Experts have even said that the daily commute can have a slew of psychological consequences that can negatively affect mood and performance.
Compare that with a worker on a remote team that has fully embraced the hybrid work experience. A team member might be able to drop children off at school, answer a full morning’s worth of emails from home, and still easily make it into the office space for a well-scheduled meeting. In such common scenarios, the time saved in the commute can be directly applied to the work-life balance, opening the door to happier, more productive employees.
Communication is Even More Important for Hybrid Work
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of communication in the modern work environment, and when you’re planning how to manage a remote team, this must be at the top of your list. Because there are more moving pieces in the work-from-anywhere economy, managers must ensure that communication is a priority for everyone. Here are some communication tips to consider when setting up a coworking space.
- Don’t be afraid to send out an extra reminder for schedule changes. When an employee heads to a coworking space, it’s often to accomplish a specific goal; managers who ensure workers can achieve that goal will have an easier time maintaining team efficiency and morale. That’s why it’s critical to be clear about what personnel and resources will be on hand when a worker arrives at the workspace. If something changes (e.g., IT reps won’t be in the office), then making sure the entire team knows as soon as possible is vital. In many cases, sending out that extra reminder will avoid issues that can lead to worker frustration and drops in productivity.
- Utilize the right technology. Communication is another way for a manager to prove their flexibility. Workplace experts point out that it can be very beneficial to allow team members to determine how they want to communicate. By having the team influence the communication methods, managers will be able to more effectively get crucial information where it needs to go—a benefit that directly applies to teams that utilize coworking spaces.
- Make sure everyone knows the necessary channels of communication. Workers don’t always know who to turn to for specific problems, which can make for a messy web of miscommunication. Managers should ensure that all remote team workers—especially newer members—know when they are available along with the best methods of communication. Workers should also know whom to reach if a manager or team leader is unavailable, which can only happen with an established system of communication.
Come Up with a Clear and Easily Accessible Coworking Schedule
Even the best employees can bring a few bad habits from home, particularly with the trend of home offices turning into escape hatches for many professionals. While just about anything goes within the home setting, workers sharing workspace need to be held to a different standard.
To assist with this dilemma, the scheduling of shared space can be very important as workers readjust to a semi-regular office setting. Determining how to manage a remote team might even begin with workspace scheduling in mind.
For the best results, workers who help set up scheduling rules are more likely to approve of the system. While a very informal system might be appropriate for some companies, others will want to utilize shared scheduling documents that can show a space’s availability in real-time.
Even if a manager builds in free time that can be picked up by anyone, it is usually helpful if workers can lock in their time by booking a space for a specific time. Once again, communication is essential. If a worker vacates a workspace earlier than anticipated, being able to quickly alert the team that the space is available can be beneficial to everyone.
Team managers also might need to set some basic ground rules for space sharing. While many teams won’t require this level of oversight, managers need to be cognizant of any bad habits being brought from the home into the office. Politely establishing a few ground rules about how spaces should be left can help avoid tension between coworkers sharing space.
Choosing the Right Coworking Space
When selecting office space, companies should see more than just the savings associated with the hybrid working economy. Managers should be focused on maximizing potential and allowing the workspace to be a path to better work-life balances, more all-around flexibility, and higher levels of worker productivity. The right coworking space will have the necessary technical requirements and be a positive and versatile environment where you can harness the benefits of an in-office experience.
To do that, choose a space specifically designed for the modern-day economy. Not only is every company different, but a company’s needs might even change by the month or by the week. With a workspace that can be molded to the unique aspects of a company’s needs, a manager can fully take advantage of a team’s strengths while creating a positive and professional work setting.
Vuka offers multifunctional coworking spaces that offer all the amenities your team needs to work productively, including an inspiring atmosphere and flexibility for both your business and your individual team members. Our locations can serve as the ideal complement to any remote team. Contact us today to get started.