HRM Five: Moving staff into coworking spaces

They could be the future of working, so here's a chance to get up-to-speed on maximising the benefits of shared office space.
By: | September 8, 2019

More companies are now trading big offices for new and trendy co-working spaces. In fact, it’s predicted that there will be almost four million of these spaces globally by the end of 2020. For companies, they offer greater flexibility and lower rental costs. For employees, they provide the potential to work closer with colleagues, and also network with other companies, all under one roof.

But the gains from coworking aren’t guaranteed, so employers need to carefully manage the transition to make it as smooth as possible. Here are five tips to help get the most out of a co-working space:

1. Build the team

Your employees will be spending more time with each other than they would in a normal office situation. Some people will love this opportunity, while others may get irritated being in such close proximity. One way of easing tensions is to arrange fun team-building activities on a regular basis. Some co-working offices, including WeWork, organise these for their tenant companies. Even a simple table tennis tournament once a month can break the ice and add to teamwork.

2. Share projects

Another way of bringing staff together is to creatively share data among them. Blogs are a good way to encourage employees to engage in discussions or share their thoughts on specific topics. Collaboration is key here, so encourage the sharing of projects and deadlines. By seeing each other’s deadlines and completed projects, employees are more likely to excel in their own assignments and projects.

3. Brand awareness

With no building with your company’s own logo and signage anymore, it is possible to lose some of your brand’s identity. So promote that brand in the workplace instead. A strong brand can generate excitement and workers perform better when they feel part of a group. If the budget stretches, consider branded freebies like stationary, caps and t-shirts, along with internal signage and displays.

4. Avoid distractions

One of the concerns with co-working spaces is that they can be noisy and chaotic, with lots of distractions due to many people coming and going from a range of different corporate tenants and hot-deskers. You can encourage your employees to wear headphones to cancel out these distractions and unnecessary noises. But keep an eye (or rather an ear) on the music levels coming from earphones, as these can also be distracting. It’s all about showing mutual respect for your co-workers and neighbours.

5. Consider counselling

If your employees are used to working in a private space, such as their own booth or office, co-working will be a culture shock at first. It sounds extreme but offering specific counselling can be highly beneficial. The mental wellbeing of staff is equally as important as their physical health.

Counselling can also work as mediation. If you have two workers who are in conflict (perhaps due to now sitting much closer to each other), then counselling can help them deal with tensions and work together harmoniously.

Co-working spaces are relatively new for all, so expect a few teething problems along the way.

*HRM Asia recently moved into a coworking space after many years in our own office.