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How co-working is changing the face of business

By Danielle van Wyk

Imagine a working environment where digital marketers share the same kitchen space as software developers, lawyers, financial advisors, IT technicians and architects. Imagine the networking opportunities and inspiration that could come from chats over a morning cup of coffee. The ease of it all. Well, this shared space model is exactly where corporate seems to be heading. 

co-Mind is one such company that subscribes to what is termed as a ‘new money generation’ ideology.

“The term ‘co-Mind’ stands for something much broader,” says general manger and co-founder, Kim Naudé.

 “It is a new way of working, a way which is co-operative, open, collaborative and network-based rather than singular, isolated and individual-based. These office spaces also act as the stimuli and catalyst of knowledge sharing, serendipity and accumulation. It is also a vehicle for co-creation and co-development.”

This is typically the perfect environment for entrepreneurial-spirited individuals and teams, says Marelise Jacobs, owner and graphic designer of Perkolate Design Studio, a company that rents within the Regus and Spaces model.

For smaller companies and entrepreneurs it offers the chance to have an affordable office area and a professional look with reception services and all the amenities of a traditional office (kitchen etc.).  

Another attraction to this model stems from the fact that conventional and traditional office rental space is just too expensive.

“With the rise in property prices, renting commercial office space has become increasingly expensive and competition for prime real estate is getting tougher,” says a representative of Spaces.

How does the business model work?

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of the collaborative working space it tends to differ from company to company.

Spaces, like many other shared space offices, offers a service where you pay for what you use. You can hire an office or a meeting room for a day and only pay for that. You can also upgrade if you prefer. Space offers packages for a day, month or year with varied prices.

Similarly, other companies subscribe to a tiered package system.

There are three office models - Virtual, Co-working and Full office.

In Virtual you get a business address and landline number with reception services and about two hours a day to work in the common area. This is the least expensive option (other companies have something similar which they call Hotdesks).

With Co-working you get a dedicated desk and landline with IT support and reception services. The size of the office dictates how many companies are co-working. It can be between two to six  companies (which means mostly one person per company). This according to Jacobs works well if you are in a prime location within a business district.

Full office space means you get the entire office where one or more people from the same company can work together, again with full office services. This option can get very expensive.

When it comes to amenities and perks, these shared models have thought of mostly everything.

At Spaces members enjoy 24-hour worldwide access to all Spaces business clubs. Lockers are available, as well as meeting rooms which can be booked for a few hours or the whole day.

Wondering how to field your phone calls while working in such a public area? These companies have thought of that too – just duck into a phone booth to keep the content of your calls private and avoid disturbing others.  Prefer your own desk in a shared space?  Choose a dedicated desk where you can work with the devotion and concentration your projects require.

But cutesy phone booths and networking opportunities aren’t the only reason why the demand for flexible and shared workspace is increasing.

There are four principle reasons why more people are using flexible workspaces:

Digitalisation and new technologies are changing how people work:

-Everyone is connected digitally.

-People are more mobile and can access their work from anywhere.

-Artificial intelligence, automation and cloud technologies are changing the nature of work.

-We talk to our phones, to our watches, to our computers, to our cars. And often these devices do tasks for us automatically.

People want the benefits of flexible working:

-People want geographic benefits – the choice of where and how to work and live.

-Personal productivity can be increased with inspiring workspaces and communities.

-A better work-life balance can be achieved with easier access to good workspace either close to home or close to where other people are.

-This is why HR departments across industries now are increasingly having to offer flexible working solutions to attract and retain talent.

-Businesses want the financial and strategic benefits of flexible working hours

Financial benefits:

-Outsourcing of corporate real estate is replacing insourcing to create a more flexible on-demand model for businesses.

-Lower costs can be achieved as a result.

-Businesses can achieve better balance-sheet flexibility. 

Strategic benefits;

-Greater geographic flexibility to be close to talent, suppliers and customers, with increased speed to market, can also be achieved with the outsourcing of office space.

-Workers can be more productive, and gain the personal geographic benefits with professional, inspiring and collaborative workspaces and communities.

-Businesses can better attract and retain talent with flexible working solutions.

-Businesses need the right space at the right time for their different people.

Co-working for the most part speaks to a lifestyle. So, if you’re a corporate shaker, business nomad, freelancer, energetic entrepreneur, international worker, mobile mover, project team, start-up or even a well-established company that is looking to take your business to the next level, this may be an option worth exploring. 

Simply put, what do you have to lose?

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