The hot desk has turned into a hot mess

Hot-desking, the idea that a desk in an office is used by many people whenever they find it free, has mushroomed in use over the past decade despite growing evidence that it’s unpopular with workers – and possibly bad for them too.

Isla Galloway-Gaul, MD of Inspiration Office, says: “The idea behind hot-desking is simple: you could save a lot of money by reducing the amount of expensive office space needed by sharing the large proportion of unused desks while people are away, in meetings or working elsewhere.

“Under-used office space in England and Wales for example costs businesses R200bn a year.”

She notes that while the cost savings ambitions are admirable the second tier effects of hot-desking haven’t been fully considered by some companies which have not adapted their offices to accommodate a style of working unfamiliar to many.

“We’ve noticed that workers often have to spend time finding somewhere to sit and can spend as much as 18 minutes a day on average looking for a spot. Clearly this is unproductive, and particularly impacts those who have arrived later to work. It can mean once someone has finally found a desk they are already quite stressed before the workday has even begun.”

While hot-desking suits some people, it can adversely affect the many staff who have to be in the office each day and need to know they’ve got everything they need where they need it.

Not knowing where the people you need to collaborate with are sitting can impair productivity too. “Often a query can be solved much quicker by simply going over to a coworker’s desk, rather than relying on email ping-pong. But that can’t happen if you’re wandering the floor trying to find them,” says Galloway-Gaul.

“In many workplaces now, poor acoustics and lack of visual privacy are a major concern but fixable,” she notes.

Hot-desking isn’t complete disaster because employers could be doing a lot more to make it work better for everyone – by looking into acoustic treatments for noisy open-plan offices and ensuring there’s a decent balance of collaborative and private work areas.

“Rows of open-plan space with hundreds of desks is not appealing to anyone,” she says.

“Companies need to be rethink how people move, create and collaborate and translate that into a thoughtfully designed place.”

Galloway-Gaul recommended companies use use light-scale, light-weight, easily movable furniture which allows teams to feel empowered to take over the space and easily create a space that best suits their needs.

Another suggestion is to combine furniture and technology in a way that encourages equal contribution by all members of a team.

“Companies also need enable privacy and control over the environment to provide a ‘safe haven’ spaces where new ideas can incubate,” she concluded.

By Rebecca Greier Horton, workplace well-being knowledge lead at Herman Miller

Self-care has been a hot topic in 2020. And now, given the fact that many of us are working from home, it’s even more important. How do we look after our mental, emotional, and physical health while trying to manage the challenges of working remotely?

When it comes to WFH, comfort is key. Take time to set up an ergonomic home office. This will help prevent the musculoskeletal disorders that can occur when you work on a laptop for long periods of time, and it will increase your cognitive engagement. So, where to start?

1. Light it up

Select a spot where natural light is your primary light source. Research indicates our sleep cycles and even our hormones are positively affected by this. If your setup is near a window where you can let the fresh air circulate—even better!

2. Police your posture

Remember that bad posture still counts when you work from home, and that how you sit today will shape your body forever. It’s important to choose an office chair that supports your body. A recent study by Herman Miller and Texas A&M shows how the right chair can influence cognition and your body’s ability to handle stress.

3. Get a move on

Move your body! Whether or not you have space for a height-adjustable desk, research from the University of Waterloo advises that for each hour worked, we should spend 30 minutes standing.

4. Treat yourself

If you’ve hesitated to purchase a good sit-to-stand desk for your home office, consider making the investment in your health.

Practicing self-care should be your number one priority as you work from home. It will help you be the best partner, caregiver, mom/dad, leader, friend, and contributor that you can be.

There’s more to office design than desk placement and adding a couple of pot plants. The IWG plc (IWG) team gives some insight into harnessing the vital elements of a perfect workspace.

Forget ping-pong tables, meditation rooms, and even beer on tap in the communal lounge. The secrets of a truly great office lie deeper – in its fundamental design. According to reports, a good, well-designed office can boost employee happiness by 33 per cent while more than half of workers believe their productivity would increase if they could attain their ideal office environment.

Flexible workspaces and remote working improve productivity. Evidence shows workers take fewer breaks, commuting time is reduced, employees are happier, more motivated and less likely to have time off sick. In financial terms, the savings in reduced operating costs and increased economic output of flexible working versus fixed real estate can be anything between 5% and 75%.

IWG brand, Regus, understands these issues better than most. In 2017 alone, it opened some five hundred thousand square meters of new workspace around the world, adding almost daily to the company’s global network of more than 3,100 business centres in 1,000 cities in more than 110 countries.

Meeting the needs of the 2.5 million individuals who use these workspaces – not just today, but in the years ahead – is a challenge that calls for an imaginative approach to design and a profound understanding of how the way we work is changing.

Understanding the new world of work

“Great office design is a balance of art and science,” says Joanne Bushell, Managing Director and VP Sales in Africa for IWG plc. “The art is designing the space to be attractive and deliver a wow factor for the user. The science is in making sure the space works for the businesses renting the space and the employees using it.”

She points to Regus’s unique position – offering flexible space to a diverse range of customers around the world. “We have to be able to plan and position office infrastructure that works for any possible future customer,” she says. “What size space will they need? What power and data needs will they have? How long will they stay? And what happens when they leave – will the needs of the next occupant be accommodated in the same space?”

“People tend to think of office design as just about where you position the desks, but it’s so much more than that,” says Mark Dixon, CEO of IWG. “It’s about responding to when, where and how people work. Workers of all generations – not just Millennials – are discovering the benefits of co-working and becoming more mobile. Offices need to be spaces that foster productivity, creativity and collaboration.”

In a 2019 Regus survey of 20,000 senior managers and business owners across the world, a fifth selected business centres as the most popular location for remote work. “Today’s offices are moving towards being a destination-type space,” says Dixon. “It’s the place you choose to work, because it’s where you work best.”

Choose the design template

As modern office design has evolved, so too has the Regus design. Compared with 30 years ago, when the company was founded, a new Regus office looks as different today as a 2018 Tesla would to a 1989 Honda Accord. New business centres are based on one of several designs. The location and the potential future clients determine which option is chosen. “Our customers range from Millennials in tech start-ups and creative industries to professionals in finance or services,” says Bushell. “We want to offer space that is sympathetic to different business types and their needs.”

The fundamental new thinking on employee well-being is also informing office design. Studies have shown that exposure to blues and greens can boost creativity, while red improves performance on tasks that require attention to detail. And furniture isn’t left to chance. An environment with curved lines – say, circular tables in a meeting room, or desks with smooth corners – is linked with positive emotions, which aid creativity and productivity.

Consideration to optimised ergonomics is also critical in furniture choices to increase healthy productivity. It reduces downtime caused by physiological disturbances such as back and neck pain.

As wholly open-plan environments fall out of favour, offices are being redesigned to accommodate more varied work settings, known as activity-based working (ABW), and more opportunities for movement.

“Offices in the past often resembled schoolrooms,” says Bushell. “That uniformity has been replaced by a diverse range of elements, including individual office rooms, meeting booths, communal tables, reading tables, think tanks, phone booths and meeting rooms. “The key is to offer every type of space a client could want. That same client may have changing needs for different spaces at different times. The challenge is to correctly estimate the demand for each element so that the space is neither crowded nor underused.”

Prioritise social spaces

Another important consideration is the non-workspace. There’s a glut of research showing that interactions, including accidental meetings – sometimes termed ‘creative collisions’ – boost productivity rather than drain work output. A case study cited in the Harvard Business Review described how employees were given sociometric badges to track their movements and interactions. The data collected over weeks showed that when a salesperson increased their interactions with co-workers on other teams by 10 per cent, his or her sales also grew by 10 per cent.

A simple decision about where coffee machines are placed can prove critical in engineering such collisions. That’s why a café area and social space is at the heart of every new business centre – from China to Africa. “We want to encourage interactions,” says Bushell. “The café is right at the entrance when you arrive, and it’s connected to all the other areas, so that you as an individual also feel more connected.”

Provide a sense of place

The final stage involves customising the space: with furniture, soft furnishings and artworks. This is where there is most scope to give each business centre a distinct identity which resonates with its locale. A prime example is Black River Park in the Cape that is the first office precinct in South Africa to receive the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) certified Green Star SA ratings for all its buildings. The office park is situated in the “artsy” town of Observatory which is home to corporates, artists and actors.

“It’s all about picking some part of the local architecture to give a sense of place,” says Bushell. To ignore the local input on design would be a mistake, Regus centres around the world may draw from the same design guidelines and aim for a consistent quality and standard, but they use locally sourced products and are far from uniform.”

Check it’s working

From sensors under the desktops to employee wearables, the office is becoming more connected and is driving how workplaces are designed. “We have a huge amount of intelligence on how our centres are used,” says Andre Sharpe, Regus’s Chief Information Officer. “We’re like a laboratory, able to monitor how customers use our products and services – and then adapt and improve their experience based on the results.”

One such example is using booking data for each component for the office, drawn from other worldwide sites, then observing how customers use the business centre. “We can see which spaces experience high traffic – and at which times of the day. This helps us to understand if the areas are performing as well as they could be for our customers.”

“In the future, companies will be able to cross-reference information on employee movements with performance data,” says Sharpe. “The results could then be analysed to find out how the space is serving the users and how it is impacting the company.” Sharpe points out that while data privacy will be a crucial consideration, “when correctly used, these services help companies create tailored offices that encourage positive performance and collaboration”.

In a rapidly changing world, IWG also recognise the importance of using data to inform future design – and the exciting prospect of this. Says Bushell: “We’re designing for companies, but we’re also designing for people. If we can give people what they want in a workspace before they even know it themselves, it’s good for everybody.”

The open-plan office is here to stay and as we move closer to Corporate Wellness Week, taking place from 2-6 July, there is no better time to reflect on how distractions such as noise in the office contribute to decreased productivity and general office unhappiness.

“I love working in an open-plan office and feeling connected with the team,” says David Fish, MD of local office furniture and accessories manufacturer AngelShack. “One of the key selling points of open-plan offices is that they foster collaboration, communication and sharing, encouraging teams to work together on projects to a far greater degree than they would if confined to their own cubicle or office. However, while the positives are undisputed, there are certain factors, such as noise, that make working out in the open somewhat challenging and which have to be taken into consideration,” adds Fish.

“Noise is the second most common complaint in offices worldwide,” says Lauren Clark, concept developer at Saint-Gobain Ecophon, manufacturers of acoustic ceilings and wall panels. “Research shows that sound is one of the main contributors to employee dissatisfaction and studies have found that open-plan offices can reduce productivity by up to 15% because of increased noise, interruptions and a lack of sound privacy.” According to Clark the sources of office noise are varied – from the hum of air-conditioning units to outside traffic, cell phone ring tones and, most notably, colleagues’ voices.

“There is plenty of research showing that the most destructive sound of all is other people’s conversations,” says Julian Treasure, chairman of United Kingdom consultancy, The Sound Agency. “We have bandwidth for roughly 1.6 human conversations. So if you’re hearing somebody’s conversation, then that’s taking up 1 of your 1.6. Even if you don’t want to listen to it, you can’t stop: You have no earlids. And that means you’ve just .6 left to listen to your own inner voice.”

Statistics by the World Health Organisation (WHO) tell us that the average person spends a third of their adult life at work, which is why it’s so important that we are able to function to the best of our ability while on the job. According to Clark, research also tells us that in a noisy environment the performance of complex tasks is 50% less accurate than in more quiet spaces.

But since many office spaces worldwide already use open-plan or shared office spaces, organisations can’t easily shift or respond to employees’ concerns. Instead, the onus is on employees to find solutions to office sounds or lack of privacy.

Sound solutions

Fortunately there are a variety of ways in which to combat the negative effects of noise on the workplace – from building materials such as acoustic ceilings, to double-glazed facades, screens and even office furniture that buffers the transfer of sound and provides a measure of acoustic privacy.

To counteract the detrimental effects of noise in the workplace AngelShack, game-changers in the business of innovative, award-wining office furniture, has launched two sound proof booths to which employees can retreat to escape the din in the office.

“At AngelShack we’re in the business of challenging conventions,” says Fish. “We don’t sell office furniture, we provide workplace solutions for the office of tomorrow, including innovative products such as the Focus and Speak Easy booths that address issues of employee wellness and access to privacy as well as the need for confidentiality in the workplace and at the same time noise reduction.”

Here are Fish’s five tips, suggestions and design solutions for ways to reduce noise in the office work space:

1. Get focussed: AngelShack’s Focus Booth is a fully enclosed capsule that offers solitude from a busy work environment, making it perfect for confidential phone calls and one-on-one meetings. The booth, which is lined with acoustic foam, features a full-length glass door, internal lighting and temperature control. Temperature is the most common complaint in offices worldwide

2. Plants, Plants and More Plants: Well-placed plants have proven effective in reducing noise levels in an open office setting. The larger the plant means the bigger the impact, not to mention the obvious aesthetic benefits and overall impact on air quality.

3. Time out to talk: AngelShack’s Speak Easy Booth is another total-privacy solution that employees can use to make calls without outside interference. The booth is lined with acoustic foam, a full-length glass door, internal lighting and temperature control, plus a handy shelf for pens and notebooks.

4. Listen to the waves: If you can’t control noise propagation in the office by traditional acoustic control measures, today’s electronics offer new possibilities. One technique is to introduce random, natural sounds to the workplace environment that obscure or “mask” the sound of distracting conversations.

5. Design Thinking: Clever design principles that allow for sound absorption and diffusion are key. Spaces need to be properly planned in terms of where to position noisy spaces versus quiet spaces, and the introduction of buffers such as acoustic partition systems, screens and facades that prevent noise transfer from one space to another.
There are many factors to consider when looking at acoustic solutions to combat the negative effects of noise in the workplace, says Clark. “My shout out to designers is for them to be mindful of the performance criteria of different products, so that they can make informed decisions about which products and materials deliver an acoustic solution that works from both a visual and audio perspective.

“Nature and the outdoor environment are far more comfortable from an acoustic point of view than indoor spaces and the trick is to bring this insight into our design of indoor spaces such as offices now and moving forward,”concludes Clarke.

Image: AngelShack

Good ergonomics is essential to a productive and healthy workforce – and they cost almost nothing to implement.

Linda Trim, Director at workplace design specialists Giant Leap: “All enterprises should strive to create an ergonomically sound workspace for all employees. Quality furniture and good design is of course a great help, but it is the responsibility of each person to make sure they are using good ergonomics at their own workstations.”

Here are 7 easy-to-implement tips that will help optimise ergonomics:

1. Good working posture

The number one ergonomic priority is establishing a good working posture. “People should be able to sit or stand in a neutral body position with a relaxed posture that requires no stressful angles or excessive reaching to complete tasks, “ Trim said. Office workers should sit with hands, wrists, and forearms that are straight, inline, and parallel to the floor. The head should be level, facing forward with no turn to the left or right, and generally be in line with the torso.

2. Adjustable chairs and desks

To encourage good posture and the neutral body position, enterprises should install high-quality adjustable chairs, furniture, and equipment. “The more positions a chair and desk can adjust to, the more they can be tailored to the individual using them. When it comes to ergonomics, one size most definitely does not fit all, “ Trim noted.

3. Proper display height and distance

Monitors and other display devices should be placed at eye level. Viewing a display should not require straining the neck nor squinting the eyes. Ergonomics dictates that individuals not be required to turn their neck to the left, right, up, or down to view a display.

4. Keyboard and mice position

Said Trim: “While often ergonomic afterthoughts, the proper keyboard and mouse configuration is just as important as posture when it comes to neutral body positioning.” If people are reaching for the mouse at a bad angle or have to violate the inline parallel rule for elbows and wrists, they are going to lose neutral positioning. Reaching for input devices can lead to excessive fatigue, and after lengthy exposure, injury. Keyboards and mice should be accessed without breaking any of the neutral positioning rules.

5. Reducing repetitive movement

Even if an individual applies perfect ergonomic principals, repeating the same motion over and over will cause stress and eventually lead to injury.

“The best way to combat this is by changing tasks. Doing something else even for a short time will reduce potential for injury, “ Trim advised. When changing the task is not possible, individuals should periodically change the neutral positioning they are using – from the upright sitting position to standing, reclined sitting, or declined sitting.

6. Standing up and moving around

For office workers, this is a really important tip. Once an hour, workers should stand up and take a few minutes to walk down the hall, get a drink, look out the window, anything that gets them out of their chair.

7. Environmental setting

Often overlooked when discussing ergonomics is the overall working environment. “Proper lighting, temperature and humidity are ergonomic essentials,” said Trim.

Lighting should not cause glare on computer screens, which means that many workplace settings should be equipped with softer light systems. Lighting that is good for reading printed material is not necessarily the best lighting for computer displays

Temperature settings are trickier since because of individual preferences, but every attempt should be made to maintain a temperature that is comfortable for as many people as possible.

Trim added that Giant Leap advise user training with all of their projects to allow people to get the benefits out of their furniture and office.

Studies show people who work in co-working spaces are on balance more satisfied, better performers and find more meaning in their work than those working in traditional offices.

What’s so special about co-working?

Linda Trim, Director at FutureSpace, says: “Co-working spaces attract diverse groups of people such as entrepreneurs, remote workers, independent professionals and people from large companies who work together in communal setting.

“This seems to be create a special alchemy of contentment.”

Trim cites a study in the Harvard Business Review by researchers Garrett, Bacevice and Spreitzer which found that people working at co-working spaces were not just more satisfied and productive than those in regular offices, but were also much more engaged in shaping their and their company’s future.

“But perhaps the most important factor that the research uncovered was that these people where thriving at work because they saw their work as more meaningful that those in regular offices.”

Why are there such differences?

Firstly, unlike a traditional office, co-working spaces consist of members who work for a range of different companies, ventures, and projects. “Because there is little direct competition or internal politics, they don’t feel they have to put on a work persona to fit in,” Trim noted. “Working amongst people doing different kinds of work can also make one’s own work identity stronger.”

Secondly, meaning may come from working in a culture where it is the norm to help each other out, and there are many opportunities to do so. The variety of workers in the space means that coworkers have unique skill sets that they can provide to other community members.

Meaning may also be derived from the essence of co-working coworking: community, collaboration and learning. “It’s not simply the case that a person is going to work; they’re also part of a global social movement,” Trim added. Co-workers often say that having a community to work in helps them create structures and discipline that motivates them.

Thirdly, they also have more job control. Co-working spaces are normally accessible 24/7. People can decide whether to put in a long day when they have a deadline or want to show progress, or can decide to take a long break in the middle of the day to go to the gym. Said Trim: “They can choose whether they want to work in a quiet space so they can focus, or in a more collaborative space with shared tables where interaction is easier.”

Even though the co-working movement has its origins among freelancers, entrepreneurs, and the tech industry, it’s increasingly relevant for a broader range of people and organisations.

“In fact, co-working can become part of your company’s strategy, and it can help your people and your business thrive. An increasing number of companies are incorporating co-working into their business strategies,” Trim concludes.

The pod — a small, free-standing box or space that is typically soundproof and designed to fit just one or two people — is taking over offices in South Africa according one of the country’s biggest office space and furniture consultancies.

And there is good reason for the rise in its popularity.

Isla Galloway-Gaul, MD of Inspiration Office, says: “Privacy pods that allow you to meet or talk on the phone without others overhearing, or work in complete silence, have been installed in many offices ranging from start ups to large companies with thousands of employees.

“We have experienced rising demand for pods over the past few years and expect them to become increasingly popular in offices in South Africa.”

One of the biggest reasons for companies installing pods in their public spaces is people’s need for silence and privacy.

“We all need periods of silence, especially at work,” says Galloway-Gaul. “Working and commuting in busy urban environments is putting a lot of noise and busyness pressure on our lifestyles.”

People around the world tend to spend increasing numbers of hours at work compared to decades past, and because of the rise of open plan offices we need the option to go somewhere quiet and carry on working.

“While many people like open plan offices, others find in makes for a more difficult work environment by creating more stress, reducing productivity and lowering job satisfaction. Most people struggle with concentration anyway, even without interruptions and elevated noise levels,” she adds.

Privacy pods are an ideal solution and easily installed.

“They do away with the need to build entirely new private rooms, can be added and removed according to need and as they are small, can be slotted in without making much change to the overall offices space or aesthetic. They are also much more cost effective and far less disruptive than making wholesale changes to an office,” says Galloway-Gaul. “Companies can still have uncluttered open offices and accommodate those who need quiet.”

Another reason behind the rise of the pod?

“An increased focus on wellness,” says Galloway-Gaul. “There are a lot of introverts in the world that need a place to go to think and recharge,” she says. “And even those who aren’t, may want a few moments of peace every so often.”

Productivity is another factor.

Pods make it more convenient for people to work more, thereby increasing productivity. Productivity in the workplace is vital to support an efficient business and enhance the bottom line, but it is apparent that a lot of employees feel that they are sometimes restricted by the environment around them.

Says Galloway-Gaul: “Organisations must create as much choice as possible to enable employees to vary noise levels to meet their needs depending on what they’re working on.

“There is a growing demand for pods around the world. It’s a growth area and one that could be a disrupter to how companies plan their spaces.”

Laptop computers are lightweight, portable and convenient, allowing us to work anywhere. But with many people now using laptops as their primary computer, even though they were originally designed as a temporary alternative to desktop computers, the risk of injury is high.

“Unfortunately, the laptop’s compact design, with attached screen and keyboard, forces laptop users into awkward postures.” said Isla Galloway-Gaul, MD of Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy.

“Laptops pose less risk when used for short periods of time, but nowadays many people use laptops all day. This creates an ongoing tradeoff between poor neck/head posture and poor hand/wrist posture which can lead to aches and pains and even more permanent repetitive strain or musculoskeletal type injuries to the back, neck and wrists.”

She noted that this means that people need to pay special attention to the ergonomics of how they use laptops because they are designed with portability – not necessarily user health in mind.

Top laptop tips for optimal ergonomic use:

• “Companies should consider installing laptop stands to allow workers to use their laptops to the optimal height which is level with the eyes. Tilting your head forwards all day put an enormous strain on the neck and back. We are simply not designed to sit stooped forward for hours each day,“ Galloway-Gaul notes.

• Laptop stands correctly positioned encourages healthy posture and stress-free movements while also reducing the glare caused by ambient lighting. Experts recommend to keep a distance between 50 and 70cm between eye and screen. “This will reduce eyestrain, one if the most common physical problems encountered in the workplace which 60% of workers experiencing it once a week,” says Galloway-Gaul.

• She also suggests using a remote keyboard when working on a laptop in the office. “Obviously if the laptop is
placed on a stand, the keyboard if far too high to reach”

• Combined with adjusting chair height, workers should adjust the keyboard angle to maintain a neutral, flat wrist position because hands and wrists should be kept in a straight wrist posture when typing and should not rest on a palm rest, table or lap while typing. “This is particularly important to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome, the trapping or compression of the median nerve as it passed through the wrist into the hand.”

• Break work into smaller segments and switch between tasks that use different motions. For example, alternate use of mouse with reading and searching the web. Keep your head and neck in a relaxed posture; avoid excessive neck flexion or rotation to see the screen.

• “Schedule mini-breaks every 30 to 40 minutes to avoid repetition and static positions,” says Galloway-Gaul.

• If you have to raise your chair, use a footrest to support your feet. When seated your hips should be slightly higher than your knees.

• If you are using just the laptop to work, attach an external mouse instead of using the small constricted touchpad. This will prevent overusing one side of the body too much.”

After the work day is done, many people go home and use the computer for an additional 2 to 4 hours per night.

“But your body does not know the difference between computer work at home or work. All it knows is that it is being stressed. So it it a good idea to remember these principles for home too,” she concludes.

By Michael Holder for BusinessGreen

Upcyclers turn old desks, chairs, and carpets into new office furniture, saving money and delivering environmental benefits.

Making sure products and materials can be used again – rather than going to waste – is good for for both businesses and the environment. That is the premise that underpins the concept of the “circular economy”, an emerging sector the government estimates could deliver £23-billionn a year of benefits to UK businesses if resources were used more efficiently.

For example, one third of our office furniture – 300 tonnes per day – ends up in landfill.

Firms such as Rype Office create sustainable furniture from items that would otherwise get thrown away and is employing ‘upcyclers’ across its growing business to help turn the circular economy vision into a reality.

Cities all around the world are becoming job creating entrepreneurial hubs in their own right thanks to a rise in digital connectedness and spaces for like minded people to work in stimulating environments.

Linda Trim, director at FutureSpace, says: “If cities want a chance at economic development they first need to focus on attracting and keeping good people. We need to figure out ways to make people happier, safer, healthier, more productive and able to function better as human beings. This is why cities need shared workspaces and coworking now more than ever.”

Shared workspaces are hubs of innovation
In a rapidly moving world, there is huge demand for innovation from disruptive ideas to build businesses, create jobs and attract talent. Innovation also tends to inspire further innovation as is evident in places like Silicon Valley.

“This virtuous cycle comes from the ability to look at a problem in a new way. And for this, nothing is better than the diversity of perspectives you get in a coworking space. Some of the most disruptive concepts and applications come from people outside the industry. For example Netflix, hosted a $1m Innovation Contest to improve their movie recommendation algorithm.

A team comprised of researchers from the United States, Austria, Canada, and Israel took home the $1 Million prize for their matching algorithm that improved recommendations by 10%.

“That’s why it’s so important to have spaces where people of different backgrounds can interact.”

But it’s not just entrepreneurs and small businesses who benefit. Large corporations are setting up satellite offices in coworking spaces too. They want to immerse their employees in a more progressive culture, where they can share ideas with people outside the company and industry. These new ideas may kick off a cycle of innovation within the corporation.

“Corporations also look to hire and develop new talent within shared workspaces. They might even seek to acquire an entire startup if it makes sense. By setting up in coworking spaces, corporations give themselves access to ideas and talent they wouldn’t have otherwise.
Shared Workspaces as an Economic Development Tool
Shared workspaces have a direct and indirect impact on the 3 key economic development stakeholders: entrepreneurs, corporations and the cities themselves.

“Entrepreneurs need a supportive ecosystem to thrive. An entrepreneur can often find these things in a coworking space and through the connections they make there. Shared workspaces therefore are an incubator for new businesses,” says Trim.

New businesses create jobs and are economic engines for cities. Corporations grow by acquiring those new businesses, or partnering up with them to create breakthrough innovations. This collaboration creates more density, vibrancy and resources that help the cities thrive.

Trim adds the trend for mobile working was also driving the demand for coworking places as fewer companies around the world want people to come in to an office each day.

“These rapid changes carry serious consequences for cities as well as workers. Namely, how do we help workers feel connected when they can work from anywhere in the world? Cities that want to compete for talent need more coworking space.”

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