One of the over-arching talent realities of the last several years is that work has become more collaborative, interconnected, and matrixed. How you work with different people is now one of the most critical differentiators of employee success. In fact, in today’s more collaborative environment we have found more than 40 percent of any individual’s contribution is dictated by the quality of their coworkers. At CEB, we have been able to analyze the profile of employees that are the most successful in this new environment: We call them enterprise contributors, and if you are interested in learning more about them, you can check out our executive guidance on them here.
The increasing importance of collaboration in the new work environment has inspired a fascinating wave of research into how employees’ interactions and relationships with their coworkers can influence their performance. Previous studies have suggested that employees tend to be more productive when seated near colleagues with complementary work styles and that the presence of a few high performers can improve the work of a whole team.
At the Harvard Business Review this week, Jason Corsello and Dylan Minor unveil the findings of their latest study, in which they examined the physical distance between employees to see how that impacted their performance. In other words, does simply sitting in proximity to high-performing neighbors at work make you more productive? Indeed, they find, it does:
As the market for coworking space continues to grow, the flexible workspace provider WeWork has been courting large corporations to sell them a workplace solution more commonly associated with startups and freelancers. At the same time, however, a group of former WeWork executives are working on a project to disrupt that market by upending their former employer’s business model, Sarah Kessler reports at Fast Company:
WeWork’s basic business model is simple: The company rents large chunks of office space, breaks up that space into tiny offices and communal work spaces, sprinkles in good design and community features, and then subleases it to tenants at a huge mark-up. Landlords could make more money if they skipped the lease with WeWork and directly subleased to tenants, but typically, they don’t want to deal with all of the hassle involved in running a coworking space. “At the end of the day, it’s enormously human-labor intensive and operationally intensive,” says Bryan Woo, the director of acquisitions at real estate developer Young Woo. “[It’s like saying to a landlord], ‘Why don’t you operate the hotel?’”
The former WeWork employees’ new company, which does not yet have a name, removes some of this hassle by offering what Mark Kennedy, a partner on the project who has a background in private equity and real estate, has called “coworking in a box.” …
A new survey from FlexJobs finds that “only 7 percent of workers say the office, during traditional work hours, is their location of choice for optimum productivity on work-related projects”:
More than half (51 percent) of people reported that their home is their preferred place to work. 8 percent said they would choose a coffee shop, coworking space, library, or other place besides the office and another 8 percent would choose the office but only outside regular hours. 26 percent go to the office during regular hours to complete important work only because it’s not an option to go elsewhere.
According to FlexJobs’ survey, 65 percent of workers think they would be more productive telecommuting than working in a traditional workplace. The top reasons people are, or would be, more productive working at home versus the office include fewer interruptions from colleagues (76 percent), fewer distractions (75 percent), and less frequent meetings (69 percent). It’s estimated that up to six hours a day are lost on work interruptions, wasting 28 billion hours a year. Other reasons people prefer their home office include a reduction in office politics (68 percent), reduced stress from commuting (67 percent), and a more comfortable office environment (51 percent).
As a job search site for telecommuting opportunities, FlexJobs of course has an interest in promoting work from home, so these findings should be taken with as much salt as any other vendor survey. Nonetheless, they jibe with what we know about how employees increasingly value flexibility, autonomy, and work-life balance. Our own latest preferences research (which CEB Total Rewards Leadership Council members can read here) finds that employees value increased emphasis on work-life benefits nearly as much as a pay raise. Flexible work-styles are often associated with increased happiness, engagement, and productivity. One recent study found that call center employees in China who worked from home four days a week performed better and were less likely to quit.
The flexible workplace market is large and growing, as more knowledge workers are able to do their jobs remotely. The core clientele for providers of coworking spaces has so far encompassed entrepreneurs, freelancers, scrappy startups, and nonprofit organizations, but one major player in the market, WeWork, has begun reaching out to large corporations as well, “betting that firms will trade suburban office parks and bland commercial towers for its hip, urban workspaces,” Rachel Feintzeig reports at the Wall Street Journal:
General Electric, KPMG LLP and Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. already house some employees in WeWork offices around the globe, and the 90-location WeWork is making a concentrated push to both land more corporate customers and spur existing ones to take on more space. A 10-person sales team is out pitching companies and chasing leads, and WeWork recently posted a job for a head of enterprise sales to grow membership among Fortune 1000 companies.
We’ve heard about the trend of coworking where you work out, but what about coworking where you eat out? Since so many freelancers and remote workers operate out of coffee shops anyway, perhaps it was only a matter of time before those establishments began innovating to capitalize on that crowd. Fast Company’s Susan Johnston Taylor explores several new projects in different cities that are turning upscale eateries into coworking spaces during their off hours:
CoworkCafe opened last year inside of Arlington, Virginia, coffee shop Boccato. After 6 p.m., the area of the shop reserved for coworking opens up to the general public. For $150/month, CoworkCafe members get a $50 food credit, access to reserved space and high-speed Wi-Fi ($20 day passes are also available but don’t include any food credit). LinkLocale, more traditional coworking space in the area charges $30 per day, $175/month for flex space or $475/month for reserved space.
Aside from being cheaper than alternatives, cofounder David James says CoworkCafe offers a more relaxed vibe that many members (who include a novelist, software developers, marketing consultants, and nonprofit professionals) like. “Having a place that’s relaxed and comfortable is very good for creative type work,” he says. “There’s a certain feeling that you get in a place like this you can’t get in an office-type building. They really love the feeling of the space; they don’t want to be in a traditional office setting.”
Jillian Richardson, a freelance journalist and comedian, works out of several different coworking spaces in New York City, where the market for this type of office is large and growing. Writing at Quartz, she explains what she enjoys about that work-style, despite its downsides, and why she’s not the only one who likes it:
Originally, independent workers and startups would invest in memberships to a single space. However, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to travel between multiple offices—a set-up that offers some unique benefits for employees. “For some people, co-working provides flexibility of location,” workplace strategist Peter Bacevice says. “Place attachment is less important to these people. Rather, they value choice and the ability to work from a variety of spaces around the city—especially if they are on the go, running from meeting to meeting in various locations.” …
Many employees find that it’s a refreshing change of pace to work alongside people from other industries who have no idea what they do—and are interested in learning more.
A new report from the Instant Group, a serviced workspace provider, documents the rapid expansion of the market for coworking spaces within the past year. Mark Eltringham at Workplace Insight explores the report’s findings:
[C]oworking grew more than 10 percent across the US over the last year and ‘combination centres’ which offer both executive suites and coworking spaces expanded by 12.9 percent as existing operators sought to take advantage of the growing demand for collaborative and agile workspace. The study claims that the occupation of flexible workspace by corporations has significantly expanded the US flexible office market over the past year, largely driven by the rise of the contingent workforce and changing workplace demands of Millennials. The total market grew by 4.3 percent and now includes 3,596 centres, the largest markets of its kind in the world with the UK following at 3,290 centres.
The study claims that “corporate demand for agile space solutions, which offer shorter deal terms and transparent, monthly pricing, are driving markets such as NYC and benefiting existing brands such as Regus and also catalyzing the rapid growth of the WeWork brand”.
In the US, the report adds, 50 percent of the flexible workplace market is concentrated in just five states, with California leading the pack: The Golden State boasts 103 work centers devoted solely to coworking. The most expensive markets for coworking spaces are New York City and Washington, DC, followed by San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Nonprofit organizations and social enterprises are major consumers of coworking space and are playing a significant role in the rise of this new type of work environment. Fast Company’s Sean Captain looks at how providers are catering specifically to this sector: