The Driving Force Behding Corporate Coworking
By Benjamin Dyett, Co-Founder, Grind
It’s no secret that the workplace of today is dramatically different than the workplace of yesterday. Long gone are the days of setting one’s goals on landing the corner office and pledging loyalty to the same company for the entirety of one’s career. You’ve heard it before but it’s worth restating― according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds ten different jobs before age forty, and this number is projected to grow. Forrester Research predicts that today’s youngest workers will hold twelve to fifteen jobs in their lifetime.
As workers re-prioritize their professional and personal goals and fast-paced changes in mobile technology untether people from “the office,” the workplace will continue shifting, bringing with it an evolving vision of the future of work. This has already begun with the emergence of coworking offices, particularly within the startup, freelance and entrepreneurial cultures. However, large corporations are getting in on the coworking game, accelerating the coworking movement and making sweeping changes to the workplace overall.
At its core, coworking is about community. Coworking spaces are shared working environments that help make people take the leap from traditional corporate environments to flexible spaces that encourage collaboration, partnership and community among like-minded, hard working solopreneurs, start-ups and small corporate teams. This culture of independence and collaboration is now being adopted by more and more larger corporations looking to encourage innovation, engage new partners and build stronger cultures to meet the demands and needs of today’s workforce.
Look at Verizon, for example. Verizon engaged Grind to create a 10,000-square-foot coworking space inside its former headquarters building in Lower Manhattan to deliver a powerful and dynamic workplace experience to its users. With Verizon’s entry into the coworking market, the goal is to bring together an external community of entrepreneurs, technology developers, community leaders and academics to build connections, spark ideas, collaborate and innovate. Members can access Verizon’s high speed broadband and other platform technologies to boost their business activities, and take advantage of open workspace, team rooms, conference rooms, and meeting spaces.
“We see this venture as an opportunity, not only to creatively repurpose legacy assets, but more importantly to create a platform for our innovation groups to tap into the inherent potential of the community” said Nick LiVigne, global lead of Verizon’s coworking business. “Through coworking, our doors are open to those with the desire to develop great products on our network and interact with our talented professionals.”
Taking a look at the future of work, here is what I see as the six main forces driving the strategic shift toward corporate coworking:
1. Freelance economy is on the upswing. Today, freelancers make up nearly 15% of the workforce, and by 2020 it’s expected to be nearly 20%. This surge is nothing less than the Industrial Revolution of our time ― as of 2012, there were more than 43 million freelance workers in the U.S., says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This upward trend demands that today’s companies have the tools, appropriate/flexible space, and bandwidth to handle the growing needs of the freelance workforce.
2. Millennials work differently.
Millennials approach work in a markedly different way than the Boomers and Gen X-ers before them. Today, 50% of the workforce is made up of millennials. In 2025, this number is expected to rise to 75%. Loyalty to one particular company is passe. In fact, 80% of millennials would consider quitting their jobs and working for themselves in the future. For Millennials to thrive in the workforce means thinking differently about how corporations set them up to work.
3. Millennials think differently.
Millennials seek out greater meaning from their work. In fact, more than 50% of millennials say they would take a paycut to find work that matches their values. Half of millennials want to use their skills for good. Millennials are just as interested in how businesses develop their people and contribute to society as they are in profit-making and product development. That is why the culture and design of the workplace― its focus on true collaboration, work-life balance and independence― are so important to the future of work. Through the coworking model, more and more companies are finding that they can better empower employees, teaching them to be more creative and active in shaping the company’s future.
4. Coworking is booming. The coworking market now has over 7,000 players around the globe. According to a survey conducted by Deskmag, coworking spaces are doubling worldwide every year. One of the top reasons why people head to coworking spaces is because they want to interact with other people. If corporations can harness this growing trend and provide their employees with meaningful interpersonal connections, think about the potential impact on overall business goals.
5. Collaboration is critical. Today, the major trend in workplace development is collaboration. It’s about creating partnering networks and allowing teams to engage/disengage fluidly. This is how businesses stay in and get ahead of the game. As a result, larger businesses are seeking out ways to keep pace with the larger world through both collaboration and innovation.
6. Coworking builds community. Coworking is much more than shared physical space; it’s space that blends work with interpersonal connections. It’s a way to foster real social interaction to harness the power of collective thinking. It’s a real-life, real-time social network instead of hiding behind the pages of Facebook or LinkedIn. When businesses can build their own community, made up of like-minded, entrepreneurial-spirited supporters, they can bring their business to a new level.