An increasing percentage of companies are beginning to use a flexible workspace to help keep their overhead low while still affording their employees an enjoyable place to work. JLL, a commercial real estate company, recently published a study that suggests that 30% of working Americans will find themselves stationed in a flexible office within the next decade.
What Is A Flexible Workspace?
A flexible workspace can mean a lot of things and is generally a blanket term for an office space that comes with creative desk options. This level of flexibility can vary depending on the company and what the workers require, but there are a few different types:
- Coworking spaces
- Mobile workspaces
- Hot Desks
- Open Offices
Coworking spaces are popular with companies that work in teams as this allows a group of individuals to meet and occupy a professional space to complete their tasks. Remote workers and freelancers also use these types of areas to meet with clients, attend virtual meetings, and work.
Hot desks refer to an office structure where there are several different desks available, and workers can choose one at will. These desks are generic work stations often divided into categories or areas based on how they come equipped or leased out.
Mobile workspaces are another name for an area that is set up as a working environment but intended for individuals that might need to move from one working space to another within a city or geographical area. Companies like The Wing maintain a variety of flexible workspace locations where individuals can show up and work.
An open office is an entire office space equipped with furniture and other necessary items for those who need to get work done, but no dividers or private rooms. These kinds of areas may not be suitable for everyone, but they are often ideal for groups who want to work collaboratively without having to lease and furnish an office space of their own.
How Is A Flexible Workspace Different Than A Traditional Workspace?
A flexible office often doesn’t have the same constricting visual layout that a traditional office does, which means that you are unlikely to find cubicles, private offices, and assigned desks. The whole point of flexible office space is that you can show up, find a spot to work that looks good to you, and immediately get started.
This kind of high-quality environment may increase worker’s productivity, and it’s ultimately a cheaper alternative for many businesses gettings started. Renting out a traditional office and filling it with furniture is much more expensive than getting a membership at a coworking space, or leasing out a small part of an existing flexible office.
This type of modern workplace also blends employees and freelancers from a wide variety of companies and industries so you may be able to do some valuable networking and also avoid the office politics typical in a lot of traditional office environments.
Some users note that flexible offices can be more distracting and potentially louder environments at times, but individuals can come and go as they please. Employees and freelancers can also enjoy the amenities of a traditional office without the concerns associated with maintaining a traditional office.
The Benefits Of A Flexible Workspace
A flexible workspace is typically less expensive to use than renting and furnishing your own office space, and that means that you can move where you work and what workspace you use as needed. These kinds of workspaces are also a massive benefit to those who work remotely and don’t want to work in cubicles or other traditional spaces It also takes a bit of thought to create a high-quality workspace, and refreshing that workspace to keep employees motivated can be a full-time job. Companies that offer coworking spaces optimize the layout and decor in the coworking space, and they also think through the other amenities like internet, wifi, and meeting room scheduling.
These benefits essentially allow employers and freelancers the ability to have a high-quality office, without any of the work or hassle. These spaces are professional and suitable for client meetings but allow for flexibility that is uncommon in a traditional office.
Shared workspaces generally include utilities in their rent, and workers get the chance to network while employers enjoy flexible lease terms and the freedom switch locations when it suits them.
The Evolution Of Our Flexible Workspaces
Shared working spaces have been around since the 1960s when a company called OmniOffices Group created the oldest known coworking space located in Illinois. By 1995, a company called C-Base created a space for technology geniuses to work and collaborate, which they called “Hackerspace.”
By 1999, the term “coworking” was official, and in 2002 Schraubenfabrik, a long-abandoned factory in Vienna, Austria, was labeled the “Mother of Coworking Spaces” after it’s launch.
It wasn’t until 2005 that the first coworking space opened up in San Francisco, and it was in 2007 that the term started to trend on Google. Since then, numerous books have appeared on the subject, and companies continue to convert to using shared workspaces to better serve their employees all over the world.
In 2013 more than 100,000 individuals were working in shared workspaces worldwide, and these types of offices continue to grow in Europe, the United States, and parts of Asia. Many employers that once held large offices for their employees are slowly converting to open offices, coworking spaces, and other flexible workspace variations.
Today the norm is that shared workspaces have cutting edge technology and somewhat open floor plans that make it pleasant to spend extended periods in that space. Design and ambiance are also highly valued by users.