Marina Vassilopoulos on behalf of PSG Global
Coworking has become increasingly popular since its inception in 2005. These sites are accessible due to their locations near public transportation, and there are plenty of them to suit your travel needs. In addition, coworking spaces have been growing in popularity because people enjoy working together at these locations.
In 2022, a new miniseries called ‘WeCrashed’ by Apple recreated the turbulent times experienced by WeWork employees under the leadership of former CEO Adam Neumann. The series sparked a revival of discussions about coworking and hybrid places, with individuals asking questions such as why these places exist, and what purpose they serve visitors.
PSG Global is an internationally renowned project management firm focused on coworking space design and construction. They’ve previously worked on numerous coworking space designs across Europe. The firm has written a helpful article on coworking, recent trends in the industry and what companies can learn from the movement.
Only about 40 percent of coworking spaces have been profitable throughout the duration of their existence. These spaces are typically located in large metropolitan centres, with 1,423 spaces accessible in London alone (and growing!). These areas are ideal for those who work in a combination of an employee and freelance mode, often splitting their hours between the workplace, coworker space, and even their own homes.
Coworker spaces are known for providing a wide variety of benefits that the traditional workspace cannot offer, including lively and aesthetically appealing communal areas.
Coworking During the Covid-19 Pandemic
In response to the Covid-19 pandemia, companies around the world have begun to adapt their business operations to accommodate remote working. According to the CIPD, in 2021, over 40 percent of companies expect more than 50 percent of their workforce to work remotely. The pre-pandemics figures were much lower, at just 5 percent. These changes mark a significant change in how people work, and what they expect out of their jobs. They also represent a new phenomenon called “The Great Resignation’. The term refers to people who have previously worked in offices that are now leaving to pursue roles that offer working from home or hybrid working models – and many are considering it.
While an increased salary has often been the primary reason why people apply for jobs, today’s job hunters are looking for more than just a raise. They are looking for a variety of benefits and perks that align with their values and beliefs.
Some companies have even tried to make working life better for employees by providing spaces where they can take breaks, play games, drink coffee, eat snacks, and socialise.
For example, PSG Global helped renovate an existing meeting room into a flexible space for Hindawi Publishing Corporation during their expansion period in 2019. The renovation of the floor, spanning an impressive 4,500 sq feet, included prioritising spaces that allow for both meetings and relaxation. From gaming areas to new breakout spaces, these areas enable staff to relax throughout their lunch break and foster their interpersonal relationships with fellow employees.
A New Working Model
These days, the workplace environment has undergone a radical change. So, what does the future hold for workers, instead of the traditional office setting? Perhaps, the answer is simple: coworking. According to a GUCW study, nearly eighty percent of co-workers state that they feel more engaged and motivated while operating out of a shared workspace. As a result, construction companies, such as PSG, are now billing more on renovation and repair projects than on building new buildings for the first time. This spike is due to the rise of co-workspaces as skyrocketing demand for office renovations occurs.
Trends observed by the CBRE include more social and collaborative spaces during renovations of office spaces. A recent CBRE study of 185 office occupants found that 91% of respondents plan to change their current office space, w52% expected to shrink their workspaces, and 39% expected to grow them. These renovated coworker spaces are often in old and beautiful buildings. For instance, Crew Collective & Cafe occupies a former bank in Quebec. Similarly, the NeueHouse Bradbury, located in a historic landmark, was built in 1893 and has appeared in several movies, TV shows, and musicals, including Blade Runner. The choice to renovate these spaces means that employees can work in a place that ticks off the important historical checkmarks.
So, what do people want in these new offices? They want freedom. A co-working space provides free food, drinks, a standing desk, a community and an excuse not to dress up during the day. People are free to dress however they would like, and no one will judge them if they choose to go home early. Studies show that a positive workplace environment improves productivity, motivation and job performance. Co-working environments are therefore beneficial for both employees and companies.
PSG Global recently completed a renovation project at the Charter Office Park in Uxbridge, west London. The impressive Grade A property, covering 241,000 sq ft, was formerly the HQ of Coca-Cola. After the refurbishment, the facility now offers the largest office space in the area, with soaring ceilings reaching up to three meters and floor plans spanning over one acre.
These new coworking spaces also offer different types of amenities for everyone, from freelancers to entrepreneurs. They include a variety of services including meeting rooms, printing facilities, and even a restaurant.
PSG designed, fitted out, and provided the office furniture used by the company in the area. In just six weeks on-premises, the area was completely redesigned to include comfortable seating for tech workers, collaborative spaces, and a lounge area where employees can socialise.
What Amenities Do These Spaces Offer?
Coworking space companies have introduced various innovations over the years, providing them with a competitive edge. For example, Neuman’s WeWork had a reputation for its partying culture. Its WeWork Summer Camp, an employee-focused event, was even likened to Glasto. WeWork also, until recently, provided unlimited free alcohol, including wine and beer, to its members. Former staff have even claimed they were plied with tequila shots during interviews with the firm. Meanwhile, Regus (which held 11% of the UK coworking space industry in 2019), is known for its privacy, and formal approach. These places aim to attract a broad range of people, mainly catering to individualized needs.
A coworker space is an environment where colleagues come together to collaborate, learn, grow and share ideas. At the heart of coworker spaces lies a commitment to creating a positive workplace culture. The Coworker Manifesto, a collection of principles adopted by member organizations of the Global Coworker Network, clearly states that coworker spaces should be places where people can fulfil their ambitions, whatever they may be. They also state that coworker spaces must provide a stable base for individuals to flourish, both professionally and personally.
As a consequence of such an ethic, these areas have grown to boast new features. A greater emphasis is placed on physical and mental well-being. This is because of the high demand from employees who have begun to prioritize health in the office. New facilities are regularly introduced, breaking the stigma of conventional workplaces. These transform a co-working area into a wellness hub, with amenities including:
- Ping-pong areas
- Office libraries
- Fitness centres
- Ergonomic furniture
- Nap rooms
In 2022, these characteristics are indicators that WeBuild where We Work. People and their humanistic requirements are now viewed as important when planning new office environments or adding new amenities or functions. Before, only traditional creative jobs were linked with such coworking areas. In the present day, even financial legal, real estate and consultancy firms are now vital players in providing the shift to hybrid work.
One example is when PSG Global worked on offices for Hyperoptic in 2019. The company relocated to Kings House in Hammersmith, providing 18,500 square feet of high-end workspace. PSG Global worked on designing an impressive new workspace with collaborative areas and executive suites. The project included developing a series of exciting amenities including 12 break-out areas, a ‘war-zone’, a demonstration area and a training facility with touch screen booking capabilities. Additionally, there were several refreshment areas and a wellness area with personalized audio sensory functions. Finally, the boardrooms were designed to face a nature-themed ‘green wall’ to encourage local wildlife.
What is Next?
Is this the final stage in establishing a healthy workplace where everyone feels valued? The Metaverse, a fictitious 3D realm, has just entered the public consciousness. This virtual reality allows us to interact with people online, hug our friends, or even enjoy live performances. In short, the Metaverse is an entirely new way to experience the internet.
The Metaverse follows the ethos of collaborative space, and digital interactions promote connected experiences. You can meet others and learn new skills. Facebook itself recently announced the promotion of a virtual community, renaming itself ‘Meta’ and suggesting that the Metaverse is here to remain. The 3D worlds offered will let you socialise, learn, collaborate and enjoy in ways that go beyond imagination. This bold claim by Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s CEO, indicates that the Metaverse is set to remain.
During the coronavirus outbreak, the “standard” workplace has been completely redefined. In 2022, architects and fit-out companies may be able to design virtual realities for employees. One thing is certain: employers need to keep their employees’ needs front and centre.