BARRIERS TO CO-WORKING | CO-WORKING RESISTANCE
While creating a supportive environment for collaboration and innovative thinking can improve performance, coworking can expose an organisation to a number of risks.
Perhaps the greatest barrier to coworking is related to security. For companies dealing with high volumes of confidential data, sharing space with external organisations or easing the rules for using personal devices can be potentially challenging. Cyber security is a growing strategic challenge for organisations and effective coworking solutions need to help mitigate cyber security concerns. Premises security can be another potential challenge. While coworking spaces are perhaps safer environments to leave equipment unattended than your typical coffee shop, companies still risk a loss of equipment. Effective policy frameworks and procedures can help mitigate risks, while solutions, such as internal collaboration space or innovation hubs, substantially reduce external risks.
Privacy is another frequently cited barrier to coworking. Many companies fear a loss of intellectual property, ideas or other sensitive information. This concern can be amplified further by the prospect of potentially sharing space with competitors. Some element of private space or procedures around sensitive information sharing can help with risk mitigation. However, inevitably organisations will need to adapt existing processes to manage potential privacy risks associated with opening up their organisation to external coworking environments.
Some organisations introduce coworking, but only selectively– coworking for certain individuals, groups of individuals or departments. Allowing selected groups to work in a more flexible setting, which is different to the rest of the organisation, may breed division or resentment amongst staff. Organisations can also miss out on the opportunity to translate the benefits of coworking across wider areas of the business. While it may not be practical to extend coworking across the whole company, this needs to be carefully managed to avoid any risk of cultural clash.
Motivation can be a further barrier to the successful implementation of coworking. Companies need to be clear about their objectives and about what creates the most value for their organisations. Coworking which is imposed from the top down without due consideration of the user or employee experience is unlikely to yield the benefits most companies are seeking. By tailoring workplace solutions, companies can limit their exposure to some of these barriers and achieve seamless integration of coworking into the established real estate strategy.
Implications – Creating Value From Co-Working
Coworking is no longer perceived as a new age workplace practice, suitable only for start-ups. More and more companies of different sizes and from different industries are exploring the benefits.
The coworking trend will create a number of implications for the CRE strategy:
• Coworking can be an effective tool for creating a more flexible and cost-effective office environment
• Innovative design can boost employee engagement and attract talent
• Coworking provides an alternative work setting, which appeals to the Millennial generation
• The user experience is paramount to creating a successful coworking environment
Organisations that aspire to innovate and want to tap into entrepreneurial culture simply cannot ignore coworking. Coworking is a cost-efficient way of creating a flexible environment, but, most importantly, it can provide a range of intangible benefits for companies looking to improve their competitive position. With competition for talent also intensifying, the workplace is fast emerging as a critical tool to support recruitment and retention.
Companies need to embrace the new reality of employees’ expectations and technology enabled ways of working and adapt their workplace strategies accordingly. An innovative design, focused on flexibility and interaction in a well-connected location can boost employee engagement and attract talent. In this context, coworking can help companies appeal to different generations by providing a choice of different work settings.
There is no one-size-fits-all model for coworking. The four examples outlined in this paper come with their own benefits and risks. Companies should first seek to understand what constitutes value for their business and how the workplace can better support this. Solutions can then be developed to most effectively respond to the specific strategic objectives. Creating a successful coworking space relies upon generating a sense of community, collaboration, and engagement amongst users. It is not simply about creating another place to work. The experience itself is paramount to making coworking a success. Whether coworking is primarily seen as a tool for recruiting or retaining staff or used to foster innovation, it should ultimately aim to satisfy wider business objectives.
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