Modern Work-spaces, the Future Irish Workplace

Dara Boland 21.05.2019

One trend which has experienced significant growth in terms of the modern workplace is that of coworking spaces.

These are often defined as workspaces where groups of professionals made up of freelancers, remote workers, hub teams and various other professionals gather to work alongside each other in a communal setting. These innovation hubs are cropping up more and more frequently across the country, with many feeling that there are a number of advantages to working in such an environment. Coworking spaces were once associated mainly with startups, and in particular tech startups, but they have now expanded to be the office of choice for many organisations. We decided to look at this workplace trend in more depth in order to see how it may evolve over the coming years.  

Company Culture

There are essentially two main types of company culture in coworking spaces - community and corporate. Office culture is hugely important in determining how teams operate and the kind of working environment your company plays host to. In terms of the smaller companies and startups, they look towards a more community focused company culture. This is important to them as they’re trying to cultivate and build a strong team from scratch. In terms of a community office space, these are usually built to facilitate the needs of the community they will be accommodating. All members of the community in general have similar goals and are using the coworking space for their own advantages/purpose. A more corporate based coworking space means that the space comes first, followed by the community that will be residing in it. In cases like this, the coworking provider will design the space simply by relying on market research and their own preferences and opinions. The ethos of this kind of coworking space is that it has a core main message which they aim to get their members involved in, such as sustainability or creativity. Both work well depending on your business goals and needs.  

Overall, it would seem that some professionals absolutely thrive in a coworking space’s company culture, depending on their preferred way of working. Unlike traditional office spaces, there are many different companies and projects ongoing in a coworking space, meaning that many find working in such a space interesting. It also offers opportunities for collaboration where possible between various professionals and companies. Working alongside each other means that there is more room for crossover on various initiatives and bring different skills to the table which may help their fellow office cohabitants. Community spirit and forging connections with others is another reason professionals may enjoy a coworking space mentality and environment, with management generally working hard towards cultivating this type of environment. 

Positive and Negative Factors

As discussed above, co working spaces can have many positive factors for members, but they can also have some negative impacts as well. The environment isn’t suitable for everyone, with some members feeling that such areas are too busy and noisy, making it difficult for them to work in. Factors such as music playing in the office or difference in working styles may not appeal to some people, resulting in tension and resentment within the workplace. Others may not adapt to the constant change factor; as their coworkers will generally keep on changing, meaning there is a constant stream of new faces all the time. Some coworking spaces do not even have fixed seats, meaning each day could have you sitting next to a new coworker or colleague. Employees who prefer to become accustomed to their working space and those around them may not favour this kind of environment. 

Some people like the atmosphere of not having a boss and essentially reporting to themselves in a coworking environment, they may even thrive on this. However, for others, they struggle to motivate themselves and so may fall behind on their work or fail to get things done. It is important to remember that coworking spaces aren’t essentially a complete substitute for an office environment. There will probably not be the same level of guidance and structure as there would be in the HQ office. Lack of privacy is most definitely something which could take getting used to.

Naturally enough, it can be difficult to achieve a level of privacy in a shared working space. Others are going to overhear your phone calls and you also need to be aware that you could be easily distracted. Another factor which could be considered a positive or a negative is that of possible competition under the same roof. Potentially, you are going to be working alongside people who will be seeking the same business or same type of business as you.  While this could be a hindrance, it could also work to the members advantage by providing opportunities for collaboration, and also as a form of motivation. 

Hot Desks v’s Designated Desks

Hot desking means that employees don’t actually have a designated seat or particular desk. It means that essentially employees have the ability to work from any space or desk in the office. Hot desking is favoured in collaborative working environments especially, although both hot desks and designated desks are found in both coworking and traditional office environments. The main benefit to hot desking is that it allows employers to provide a fully flexible environment which can be a desirable benefit to many. Some feel hot desking brings along some negative effects such as the awkwardness of looking for a free space, getting settled in, and even hygienic reasons. 

The Future Evolution of Coworking Spaces

It would seem that coworking spaces are only going to increase in popularity and demand over the coming years. Many companies are actually already adopting an approach at the moment which involves working within a space where maybe half of its inhabitants are made up of employees from the organisation and the other half are made up of freelancers. From this, the term ‘’corpoworking’’ has been coined. It is anticipated that as technology evolves, coworking spaces will heavily utilise these advancements to maximise their appeal to potential members and increase productivity levels for current members.

As well as this, there will be a trend towards the same coworking provider setting up in multiple locations, all under the same company name.  An increased focus on health and wellness in co working spaces is also on the rise, with trends such as nature themed interior, health and wellness initiatives as well as gym and exercise facilities are all set to become more and more commonplace as the future of coworking spaces evolve. Although the evolution of coworking spaces shows no sign of slowing down, there are some people who argue that it is just a fad and that eventually members will return to the more traditional form of office spaces and working. Watch this space.

Dara Boland's picture
Client Associate Director | IT Recruitment
dboland@morganmckinley.ie