The remote workforce is expected to account for almost 75 percent of the U.S. labor pool by 2020. This presents a challenge to business leaders, who must figure out how to manage performance, stay within budget and inspire employee loyalty with little to no in-person contact with their staff.
Business leaders who manage remote employees are asking themselves whether coworking opportunities are right for their workforce.
All signs point to yes. Here's why coworking spaces are a great idea for your remote employees.
Opportunities for Employees to Learn and Grow
One of the downsides of smaller remote offices is the size of the workforce is generally limited. As a result, the atmosphere tends to be less dynamic and inspiring than the environment in a larger office with a greater number of employees. This can result in employees feeling less enthusiastic about their role and, in turn, be less engaged with their work.
However, coworking spaces give remote employees the opportunity to interact and collaborate with a large group of diverse (but like-minded) individuals with whom they can discuss ideas and consult for advice. And research from Cornell University has shown this type of environment supports innovation and productivity.
Coworking spaces also allow employees to connect with professionals in their own industry as well as in other industries. This allows them to grow both their own professional network and the company's network, as well. Employees also get the chance to learn from other professionals and expand their skillset, which opens the door for additional professional development opportunities -- a benefit today's workforce values in an employer.
A More Productive and Happier Workforce
Deskmag's annual Global Coworking Survey found that of the individuals in coworking spaces surveyed ...
- 64 percent claim they are better able to meet deadlines
- 68 percent said they have better focus
- 71 percent reported an increase in creativity
ConnectSolutions' Remote Collaborative Worker Survey found that 44 percent of remote employees have a positive attitude and 53 percent report reduced stress. And according to Harvard Business Review, people who use coworking spaces found their work more meaningful and felt more in control of their job. They also felt a sense of community with others in the space.
Lower Real Estate and Operating Costs
While coworking spaces are certainly a boon for employees, employers can also expect to see benefits, specifically when it comes to expenses associated with real estate (which is the second largest financial investment for a company) and general operating costs.
Generally, as a business starts to grow it initially opens up smaller satellite locations. But housing employees in coworking spaces decreases an organization's need to procure these smaller offices (< 2,500 to 3,000 square feet), which typically make up the majority of a company's total real estate portfolio. In the example below, Company XYZ has 600 employees in 150 of its smaller offices and spends $3 million per year on real estate for these locations. If the business relocated this part of their workforce to coworking spaces, the cost to provide these employees with workspaces decreases by 16 percent, or nearly half a million dollars.
Source: Colliers International
In addition to providing the actual spaces in which to work, businesses are responsible for providing their employees with other essentials: furniture, high-speed internet, office supplies, phones and printers, to name a few. And the expenses associated with replenishing and maintaining this equipment and supplies can be costly. However, all members of a coworking environment share the cost of these office essentials, helping reduce costs for your organization.
Because remote employees aren't in the main office, they are especially at risk to feel as if their wants and needs are less important than their colleagues who work in the main office. Thus, it's especially important to remind them they are a critical part of the company, and any business decisions will be made with their best interests in mind, no matter their location.