Collaborative workspaces have been on the rise for the past decade—especially in the last year. In 2018, the scale of collaborative workspaces in Manhattan increased by nearly 70 percent, growing from 9.4 million square feet in 2017 to 13.5 million square feet, according to CBRE research. But it’s not just a trend in New York. Flexible spaces are on the rise in cities around the world.
Why the sudden surge? Companies of all sizes are embracing collaborative workspaces—and for good reasons. Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur working on launching your company or a longtime member of the Fortune 500, collaborative workspaces offer a wealth of benefits.
What is a collaborative workspace?
Collaborative workspaces are offices in which employees of various companies work under one roof. Companies sharing a collaborative workspace can come in all sizes—from growing startups to global enterprises. The space is usually comprised of a mix of private offices and shared common areas that allow employees flexibility throughout their workday.
One important fact to note: A collaborative space doesn’t necessarily mean that your employees will be in a coworking area amid many other companies. In most cases, your company will have a dedicated office—or even several floors. But they’ll still have the opportunity to access beautifully designed common areas and top-of-the-line amenities, which can unlock outsize value for your company.
The advantages of collaborative workspaces
Take a look at the business value collaborative workspaces can offer your employees and your bottom line—no matter your company size.
1. Agility to move at the speed of business
In today’s fast-moving world, agility is a must. In order to move fast, your real estate must keep up with your business needs—whether that means opening an innovation lab for a moonshot project, setting up satellite offices in emerging markets, or sourcing a larger space for a successfully growing team. Collaborative workspaces give you that agility. They enable you to grow your business and the number of employees you hire without having to commit to inflexible leases in a more traditional building. With a collaborative space, you have the freedom to change the size of your team or even your location, without much effort or extra cost.
2. Easy move-in and fast setup
When you become a member of a collaborative workspace, there’s no need to endure a stressful and expensive moving process. You don’t need to purchase or bring desks or chairs. The Wi-Fi is fast, the printers are full of ink, and the phones are plugged in and ready to use. Signing on to use a collaborative space means that the operational tasks that would have required weeks of your team’s efforts have already been resolved. You and your employees can just come in and get straight to work.
3. Office space in prime locations
Prime real estate is expensive and can be difficult to source. Yet in order to attract and retain talent, companies need their offices to be in neighborhoods that are centrally located near other businesses, transportation, shops, and restaurants. On top of that, the buildings themselves must be bright, clean, and modern.
Collaborative workspaces offer a way into more expensive and in-demand spaces in prime locations that may have been prohibitive if you were renting the space yourself. Most collaborative workspaces are located in financial centers or busy business districts in their respective cities. They offer you the ability to quickly open an office—no sourcing or costly build-outs required.
In many cases, collaborative workspaces can help you cut costs by allowing you to pay for only what you need. For example, if you’re setting up a new regional headquarters and have only 10 current employees there, renting a full-floor office would result in wasted space—and cost. By placing those employees in a private office in a collaborative workspace, you’re still giving them a dedicated workplace, but only paying for the space they’re using. Best of all, you can easily add space as the team grows.
5. Ability to scale with ease
No matter your company size, growth is a primary objective—and collaborative workspaces can help you scale. Building a team in a test market? Going on a hiring spree for a division that is key to your company’s success? Opening several new locations around the world in one year? Placing teams in a collaborative workspace allows you to give them an inspiring place to work together immediately.
6. All-inclusive amenities
If you rent your own office, you have to pay for utilities, office supplies, and additional amenities—plus an office manager and support staff to oversee them. With a collaborative workspace, utilities like water, gas, electricity, and Wi-Fi are included. Most also supply other amenities like coffee and tea, kitchen supplies, printing, and mail services.
7. A community concierge
In a collaborative workspace, a team is on hand to help with anything you need. If you have questions about the space, technology, amenities, or neighborhood (like where’s the best place for a business lunch), you can reach out to the community team, which acts as a dedicated concierge.
8. Tech-enabled workspace
Configuring the IT infrastructure in any office is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor, requiring the work of multiple teams and vendors. However, with a collaborative workspace, all the technology is included: high-speed, secure Wi-Fi; conference room videoconferencing; security badges for swiping into the space; electrical outlets where people can charge up.
9. Space designed so employees can do their best work
In the past several years, the workplace has become more human-centric. Rather than expecting people to come into an office and spend eight hours a day in a cubicle, companies are providing employees with spaces that suit their work styles. That’s why many collaborative spaces have been designed for activity-based working: People can pop into phone booths to make private calls or tackle a project that requires focus. They can have informal meetings at café-style tables. For those who prefer to work in a more casual atmosphere, there are couches and other forms of soft seating. Giving employees the ability to choose when and where they work can result in higher productivity and improved work quality.
10. Networking opportunities
Even if your company has a private office or floor in a collaborative workspace, employees can still access the building’s common areas. This gives them the opportunity to network with people from other companies, including entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers. This flow of knowledge and creativity can be a major benefit. In fact, many global enterprises place teams in collaborative spaces so they can absorb new, innovative ideas from others who are not usually in their network.
11. A space that reflects your company culture
While a collaborative workspace has been intentionally designed so employees can do their best work, you still have the opportunity to make it your own. Depending on the size of your office, there are various ways to configure the space so it reflects your company. You can hang up your own artwork and bring in your own fixtures, like rugs and lamps. If you have a private floor, there are opportunities to incorporate your branding, logo, and company colors so the space feels uniquely yours.
12. Stronger employee ties to your company
Have you ever wondered whether your company culture would be diluted in a collaborative workspace? Workplace strategists have too, and they’ve looked into it. A team of researchers from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business found that employees identified significantly more with their company’s culture than that of a collaborative workspace. The study also found that working in a collaborative space improved employee perception of the company.
These are just a few benefits collaborative workspaces offer companies. As such, more companies are building flexible workspaces into their portfolios, and leveraging them to improve their business.
Interested in a collaborative workspace? WeWork offers companies of all sizes space solutions that help solve their biggest business challenges.