CO-WORKING spaces are increasingly popular in South Africa and around the world as more people and companies jump on the trend.

So popular that Linda Trim, a director at workplace design specialist firm Giant Leap, said: “From what we have seen in the past few years and the massive expected further adoption of shared work spaces as the norm, we think it is the future of work.” Here’s why:

The age of start-ups
“As start-ups flourish,” said Trim, “so will the co-working culture. Start-ups are typically synonymous with limited funds and using co-working offices can save a lot of expenses related to resources and infrastructure such as internet, furniture, office space and facilities. Start-ups won’t need to fork out large sums to get set up.”

Killing the killer commute
Basing individuals or groups of employees at shared offices closer to their homes allows them to commute short distances by car, on foot or by alternative greener means of transport in some cities such as bicycles. It allows workers to remain in touch with colleagues while linked in to central information systems and other office facilities.

She said: “With market competition only increasing, knowledge and intellectual property seem to be the major assets for companies to achieve product advantage and differentiation.” Some of the multinational giants have started co-working with start-ups to keep their current employees abreast of the latest innovations and trends. “Also, co-working provides a perfect platform for start-ups to get noticed by big companies,” Trim said.

Economies of scale
Companies, small and large, now recognise that using co-working spaces can provide big economies of scale with cost-saving and sustainability benefits. “The traditional high-rise office block is a huge duplication of resources – everything from multiple staplers right, dozens of printers and numerous, hugely expensive, IT infrastructures,” she said. Co-working allows equipment and office consumables to be shared and the financial outlay spread across users.

Work-life balance
As employees give more importance to work-life balance, flexible work schedules, part-time jobs, independent consulting and freelancing are on the rise. “In such a scenario, co-working facilitates the remote work culture with better infrastructure and peaceful, helpful environment that is taking the place of the coffee shop,” she added.

Sharing leanings of younger staff
While people of all ages are adopting the co-working trend, tech-savvy younger workers are particularly predisposed to co-working spaces as many live a sharing life anyway, such as sharing space with friends and linking to them all day via social media platforms. “This open and sharing mentality makes co-working, meeting new people and knowledge sharing inevitable for this group and it will become more entrenched as younger workers become more senior in organisations,” Trim said.

Co-working allows resources to be used by many more people thereby cutting down on things like electricity and water use, two resources in short supply in South Africa. It also reduces the number of commercial buildings and land needed.

Linda Trim is a director at Giant Leap, a workplace design specialist firm.

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