Coworking space vs Traditional Offices I Out with the Old, In with the new?
Picture this, it’s mid-March 2020, and you’ve finished explaining to your colleague Jane about your plans to go hiking on Saturday morning then top it off with a family barbeque. You said, “Have a lovely weekend” and went your own way.
And you, nor Jane, nor any other of your colleagues ever returned.
This is the reality not just in the UK, but most other countries in the world. Covid-19 reshaped our perceptions of life and indeed reshaped reality itself…a lot. No more office banter, no more family barbeques, no more pints at the pub and certainly no more music festivals.
Whether governments have faltered or not, as a societal creature we have shown excellent resilience and willpower this past year. That’s to be commended!
But we can’t live like this forever, and with the restrictions gently lifting across the UK, we have finally got to work out some difficult questions. One of the biggest of these is:
Check out our guest blog on Andcards.com to see a more detailed insight into how the Covid pandemic has affected the traditional office, but for now, here is the rundown.
- Smaller companies will likely be much less able to afford leased office rental and will likely opt for permanent remote working.
- The Hybrid Approach has seen a rise in popularity as a probable, permanent solution.
- Large companies may not be willing to invest in leased office space for employees to only work part of the week in them.
- Those who continue to work from home may want to split their week up and move either part-time or full-time to a coworking space.
History of traditional offices
Rome: Really? What didn’t start here?
Rome has a rich, beautiful history filled with gladiators, conquering, art, and religion. Who knew business and offices were part of that? Ancient Rome had its very own business district.
With such a vast empire to control, order and organisation were key.
Indeed, at the core of each roman town was a large square that consisted of offices, government buildings and shops. The roman term ‘officium’, which translates to ‘bureau’, gives us the word we use to this day.
18th Century offices in UK
In the mid 1800’s, the idea of an office was mooted in a UK civil service report. It stated “For the intellectual work, separate rooms are necessary so that a person who works with his head may not be interrupted; but for the more mechanical work, the working in concert of a number of clerks in the same room under proper superintendence, is the proper mode of meeting it…”
Speaks for itself.
We go to Germany for our next stop on the history of traditional offices. This time we’re looking at ‘Bürolandschaft’, a type of office planning. This was a movement in open-plan office space planning that typically used irregular geometry and organic circulation patterns.
At the fall of the 20th Century, many companies moved to “cube” style arrangements, likely curated to maximise density of the workspace and privacy. This is the arrangement many of us see on old-school Hollywood and TV. Oh so iconic.
However, it’s clear to see how this could antagonize staff and would not promote good staff morale, and that is true. Companies gained. Employees did not, as cooperation was more difficult.
We have seen a huge shift in office design in the 21st century. Many companies, such as in Silicon Valley, have opted to reshape the modern office, and incorporate innovative designs, breakout areas and everything in between to make an awe-inspiring, multipurpose office accessible to everyone.
Features of the Traditional Office
One Company, One Space
One of the main benefits of leased office accommodation is that in most cases you can fully modify your space to add your secret blend of branding, community and ethos that is specific to your company.
As an employee, this can be fantastic. It will make you feel part of a community that all work for the same cause. Plus there is an added bonus that it allows you to bond with your colleagues and collaborate on projects etc.
Money, Money and More Money
Did you catch that? Leased office space is expensive…very. It is one thing to spent upwards of £5,000 a month on an office. But then there are the added costs on top of that, such as fit-outs, wi-fi, parking, computers and office supplies and much more. This racks up a very off-putting price tag in a lot of cases, and obviously depends on the city you plan to operate from.
In Belfast for instance, office accommodation can cause £23 per square foot on average.
With most offices, we can expect a lot of what they house. These include:
- Conference rooms
- Private offices
- Communal offices
- Kitchen Amenities
- Breakout Areas
- Parking Facilities
- Reception Area
Changing Attitudes Towards the Traditional Office
Covid-19 has undoubtedly been a watershed moment for perceptions of the traditional office. Companies, large and small have all gave thought to the possibility of the Hybrid Approach. It seems more likely week on week that we may never see a return to the 9-5 five-day workweek in the office that evolved over decades, if not centuries.
It is unlikely that traditional offices will become totally redundant, as many companies will still prefer the offering it gives. However, with Nationwide, PWC and many other big tech companies committing to full-time remote work in the future, it begs the question:
History of the Coworking Space
The phrase “coworking” dates back to around 1995. Back then it was used as a way to identify a method that would facilitate collaborative work and business meetings coordinated by computers.
Coworking, as we know it today, originated in 2005. This was when Brad Neuberg coined the term to describe a physical space where workers came together to collaborate. This led to the opening of the first ‘official’ coworking space, situated in the San Francisco area in 2006. ‘Citizen Space’, which is now closed, opened the doors to a totally new way of working.
Coworking spaces were still flying under the radar and the majority of workers were not aware of this growing phenomenom.
Fast-forward to 2019, and there’s a whopping 19,000 coworking spaces around the globe! You see the trend, right?
People have fallen in love with coworking spaces and the flexibility it gives. Not only this, but the huge diversity of designs and offerings have created a movement that will soon shape the face of the modern office.
Features of a Coworking Space
Flexible Affordable Packages
If you were to ask your average freelancer or entrepreneur why they opted to work from a coworking space, you should expect that 9 times out of 10, price and flexibility was one of the main factors that came into their decision.
At Hubflow, our prices start at £75 per month. This is our Lite Desk package that enables you to work from our space 2 days per week. This allows you to split up your work week and escape your own 4 walls.
Other coworking spaces have placed a focus on flexibility too. Who wants to be forced into a 1-year contract when they may move locations, change their jobs, or even simply lose interest? Therefore most coworking spaces operate on monthly subscriptions that can be cancelled at any stage, hassle-free.
You can think of a coworking space as the Spotify or Netflix of the office accommodation scene.
The possibility of building bridges with like-minded, goal-orientated individuals is something that many of us crave for. That’s why a coworking space is often curated to foster collaboration and networking. At Hubflow we have afforded multiple companies/individuals opportunities collaborate to achieve a common goal.
Building contacts and a network is paramount to success in many industries, perhaps none more than freelance and start-ups.
For instance, we had a brand strategist in our space help with the branding for a start-up coffee chain operating from our space. Not only did this provide valuable experience and work for the strategist, but also gave the coffee chain a distinct market advantage.
Coworking spaces were designed for well…coworking!
Diverse and Beautiful Designs
This is where the modern coworking space took a giant leap ahead from the competition. With over 20,000 coworking spaces around the world, that’s 20,000 distinct designs and layouts that have been curated with a specific consumer in mind.
Let’s have a look at some of these:
And much more…
Among others, there are several more features athat are often present in coworking spaces that help intrigue co-workers. Some of these include:
- City-Centre Locations
- Kitchen Facilities
- Meeting room access
- Event Spaces
- Private Phone booths Space-specific features
- Breakout Areas
- Additional amenities (workout rooms, yoga rooms, snooker tables)
Changing Attitudes Towards the modern Coworking Space
Professionals want workplaces where they can access support, find collaborators, engage in team-work and find social support. This has always been one of the primary ingredients fuelling coworking spaces growth worldwide.
However, due to covid-19 and its drastic impact on all aspects of society, we are beginning to ask big questions what form the workplace will take.
Both traditional offices and coworking spaces have their own benefits that appeal to different sets of needs. However, when we take into consideration the new-found advantages that countless companies have found in remote working, which offering will appeal to most?