The positive benefits of a trend that isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
At Arrowstreet Architecture and Design, we think outside the box, literally, when it comes to coworking. In fact, we’re proud to have designed one of the most dynamic coworking space networks in the United States: Brooklyn Boulders (BKB), which features productive environments for users to work and mingle amongst a series of climbing walls. BKB outposts are now active in a variety of old and new spaces, from a converted warehouse in Somerville, Mass. to a luxury residential building in Long Island City, N.Y.
As the architect of the Brooklyn Boulders projects, I’m a true believer when it comes to the multiple benefits of the “active collaborative workplace”, which can not only make us more motivated, but healthier as well. However, even if your coworking space features Xbox and a barista in lieu of a climbing wall, there are reasons aplenty to abandon the nine-to-five grind in favor of the coworking experience.
So here are my five ways coworking is better than a typical office.
You can make professional connections for new ideas and more productivity.
Much like Uber and Airbnb, coworking is part of the sharing economy, a phenomenon wholeheartedly embraced by a new generation of workers. Typically, the physical layout of a coworking space includes long tables and desks in an open area, plenty of common areas like kitchens and huddle rooms, and a small number of closed offices. The result is that attorneys, engineers, environmentalists, and playwrights share the same room. While it might not work in a traditional closed office, it thrives in this environment and creates new possibilities for how we live, work, and play.
It’s less sedentary.
A coworking space within a gym means taking a break from building spreadsheets and composing meeting agendas by swinging kettle bells rather than eating cookies. More pull-ups instead of more coffee. The core theme is that by exercising the body, the mind responds with more creativity and innovation. There are numerous studies that demonstrate that cultivating a more balanced and physically fit body through exercise, meditation, and mindfulness leads to more creativity and productivity. The activities taking place in the gyms we’ve designed like rock-climbing, yoga, slackline exercises, and parkour place an emphasis on body control, strength, concentration and problem solving. These physical activities, more than any other fitness routines, build and reinforce the mind synapses that result in healthier brain activity, better memory, and less stress. Yet even if there isn’t an active component to your space, you’re more likely to circulate throughout the common areas when your own space is smaller and there are constantly new people outside your office door to meet and collaborate with.
It offers you more flexibility, in terms of both space and time.
For those who are able to work remotely, they don’t need a traditional office but they may need somewhere to work. I have one friend who was first drawn to Brooklyn Boulders because he is an avid climber, but the workspace function allows him to seamlessly mix his work, exercise, and play times throughout his normal day. While other BKB patrons may not have as flexible a schedule, the availability of the option to work at the gym can only help to create other avenues for how people do their work and live their lives.
It reduces overhead and includes free amenities.
While the typical coworking space looks different than traditional office space, it still has all of the components that an office needs: desk space, conference rooms, printing stations and paper closets and, perhaps, drinks, bagels, salad bars, and sweets. Not to mention the free Wi-Fi and coffee or weekly seminars with high-profile guest speakers or shared staff members such as receptionists.
It improves your social life.
Let’s face it: leaving a nine-to-five job is pretty appealing, until you realize it’s a major source for meeting new people. Thankfully, coworking is a phenomenon which has broken down the walls (in more ways than one) between life inside and outside of work. It fills in the gaps by making new friends with interesting people in new places. According to a 2015 (GCUC) – Emergent Research Coworking Survey by Office Nomads in Seattle, 87 percent of respondents reported they met other members for social reasons, 54 percent met other members for social reasons after work and on weekends, and 33 percent met other members for social reasons during work hours.