More people than ever are realizing how important free association is for their business and financial health. As telecom and e-commerce methods for supporting oneself on one’s own terms proliferate, more humanized coworking spaces are becoming vital alternatives to the overly rigid business lifestyle of yesterday.
Combining efforts for mutual benefit is a beautiful thing, and a company of people working in a structured way towards the same goals will always be an important part of social and economic life, but what this looks like has evolved, and being tied down to an exact location is just one of many ways of doing things.
Failure to Thrive: Centralized Business Models
As corporate business communities throughout the late 20th century compartmentalized not just workflow but workers themselves, it planted the seeds of the commercial rebellion taking place today.
It was perfectly natural for such employees, feeling trapped in unnatural and even unhealthy settings, to apply technology to the goal of breaking free. Today, the proliferation of the internet has enabled them to do just that, creating new opportunities and enabling people and more forward-thinking employers to accomplish office work from just about anywhere.
The cubicle lifestyle set in motion a deep-seated human drive to establish freer, remote-work lifestyles as the norm – and now, what’s truly “normal” (i.e., natural) is up for grabs like never before. With the rise of telecommunication and internet technologies, those carrying such motivations were finally equipped with the means to achieve a come-as-you-please, live-work routine that previous generations had only dreamed of.
A Shift Towards Greater Self-Sufficiency
Both traditional and novel business methods have adapted to physically decentralized business practices. Whether due to shifts in the affordability of long-term office space or in the workflow habits of both people and organizations, there has been a push towards alternate means of accomplishing daily business generally. On the other side, the proliferation of cheap, or even free telecommunication methods offered an attendant pull.
The result is that both traditional office managers and e-commerce entrepreneurs are better able to establish more flexible methods of keeping their business running and take advantage of opportunities previously unheard of. As both established and new business leaders feel these push-pull dynamics of our shifting economic landscape, shared office spaces are an attractive workflow alternative.
Take the proliferation of e-commerce SMBs as just one example. As people struggled to make sense of what was happening in 2020, one thing became clear: online retail was proliferating at a record pace. In its wake, new sub-industries for financing internet-retail startups also took hold, and the seeds of a truly decentralized peer-to-peer economy found fertile soil.
E-commerce has completely shattered traditional overhead expenses, and online retail SMBs can reach tens and hundreds of millions of people, coordinate logistics, and manage expenses all right from their computers.
The learning curve for those taking advantage of these trends has been steep – but the ability to learn more quickly and keep pace with those difficulties has also risen, with a veritable open-source intelligence of peers helping to lift each other up. The result of all of this is a new and tech-savvy entrepreneurial class hungry for greater long-term stability and control over their own financial destiny.
Traditional office workers are looking at the same location-independent solutions, albeit from the perspective of improving their work-life balance, and more managers are open to accommodating telecommunication. Now that the innate benefits of working on one’s own time – the most important currency – have been experienced en masse, it’s a given that populations will continue to leverage the gains they’ve achieved in our post-cubicle era. In a breath, decentralized work models are here to stay.
Innovating the Workspace
The question is, where will this new entrepreneurial class thrive the most? It’s often easier to maintain clarity on what is unwanted than what is wanted – especially if the negative effects of that unwanted thing have been felt for years or even decades.
Knowing that one doesn’t want to expend most of their afternoons in the rigid, compartmentalized environments of traditional office buildings is the easy half of the battle; more importantly, which new environment will function at an equal (or higher) level while increasing job satisfaction?
What these modern, telecom-equipped entrepreneurs want in place of all this is manifesting itself most acutely in the proliferation of coworking spaces. Those who have long experienced the “work-from-anywhere” lifestyle can attest that there is still something to be gained from a structured work environment of sorts. Though the benefits of working when and where you want from little more than a laptop are huge, that flexibility is paid for in a higher demand for logistical realities.
With an open-format coworking space, the remote worker no longer has to feel like they’re in perpetual limbo between a cubicle (with all the equipment) or random coffee shops (with none of the amenities). Working from home can be a blessing for a time, but motivation can easily suffer from its psychological and interrelational challenges. Instead, people have collectively made a better middle way – one step at a time.
Meeting Needs Unmet by Traditional Office Spaces
Coworking spaces have gone beyond fulfilling the deeper desires of the American workforce and tapped all the more into latent needs. For instance, while traditionally inflexible office spaces rarely accommodated children, many coworking spaces are open to the needs of some parents to have their children with them as they work.
There used to be huge logistics and economic hurdles to doing so – increasingly expensive daycare services or entrusting the public school system as a veritable second guardian have long been the only realistic options for dual-income households or single working parents.
This hurdle is being drastically reduced, as some coworking spaces allow members to bring their children with them. Still, others provide flexible membership plans that allow parents in the same household to share membership expenses. In a variety of ways, the obstacles to parents (and especially single parents raising children alone) going beyond a subsistence income are being overcome, thanks in large part to more accommodating coworking spaces.
Pet owners also enjoy the benefits of more consensually based work-space policies, which enable those whose homes don’t give their dogs free access to a yard to take them to work! All the more, what about the workers themselves? As noted above, many life-long office workers suffer ill health from lack of exposure to natural light – and it’s been known to be a struggle to get office managers to simply adjust the thermostat, provide softer lighting, or get more fresh air in the room.
Further, the unnatural rhythms of typical 9–5 routines can wreak havoc on nutritional needs, and the average corporate office of the 20th century typically forced employees to eat out all the time or live off vending machines.
But one of the draws of most coworking spaces is to maintain amenities like self-service cafes, healthy snacks, and even full-service kitchens. It’s always been important for the office space to conform to the workers, not the other way around – with coworking spaces, that’s becoming a reality.
Greater Collaboration (Without the Mandatory Meetings)
More vibrant and flexible office spaces have the added benefit of facilitating the widest possible range of character types and social dispositions. One of the most common things people say after working from home for a while is that they miss the collaborative atmosphere and being in a mutually supportive environment. At the same time, office politics and gossip were enough to drive some people crazy.
In a shared office-space environment, members find themselves able to tap into that all-important ability to collaborate and exchange ideas on their own terms. Rather than be forced into meetings of questionable value, a coworking space allows people to casually and more consensually discuss important ideas and share knowledge when it suits everyone’s purposes.
The best coworking spaces are built with an organic balance between open floor plans and individual spaces within the wider facility. Sometimes, even more privacy can be achieved (as compared to traditional offices) with private rooms for confidential calls or small meetings involving important trade secrets. It’s completely up to you – whatever social (or not so much so) atmosphere you thrive in, you’ll find it as a member of a coworking space.
Shared Coworking Spaces Make Office Work Fulfilling
Simply put, people thrive when they feel a reason to thrive. In an unstimulating environment, it’s not just the mood of staff that suffers – it’s the quality of the work itself. Yet totally cutting offices out of the equation is not realistic, unless you accept a host of limitations.
The need to balance structure and flexibility is important for the development and growth of any pursuit worthy of your time and attention. The sweet spot between the two is much easier (or even necessary) when a feeling of autonomy is at the core of your work life. Vuka is making that happen for satisfied entrepreneurs across the Austin, Texas, area. We invite you to join our community of dedicated professionals in a relaxed and more human work environment. You’ll find all the standard amenities you’d expect and more from a modern office building – and more importantly, an open and accommodating space to leave your own mark as only you can. Get started today.