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Summary:

Coworking, originally a movement dominated by freelancers and entrepreneurs, is increasingly attracting more and more remote corporate employees. Do their expectations line up with other members? Do they get as much out of the coworking experience? A new survey aimed to find out.

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Coworking, originally a movement dominated by freelancers and entrepreneurs, is increasingly attracting the attention of larger companies. And as these firms and their employees take notice, more and more remote corporate employees are joining the mix at coworking spaces.

Do their expectations line up with those of freelancers and entrepreneurs? Do they get as much out of the coworking experience? The Second Global Coworking Survey aimed to answer these questions, with the results published recently in DeskMag.

The findings confirm that the number of employees working out of coworking spaces is steadily increasingly, currently making up about a third of coworking membership in the U.S. And it turns out these corporate coworkers come to their spaces with different problems and experience group working differently. Though all groups agree about some fundamentals – freelancers, entrepreneurs and employees are all satisfied with coworking at the same high rates, the survey found.

“Social networks are expanded, isolation is reduced and productivity increased – if not quite as markedly as the other two groups,” writes Carsten Foertsch of employee members in DeskMag. Everyone is satisfied and more plugged in, but the three groups focus on slightly different benefits of this sociability with entrepreneurs understandably more excited about the potential for interdisciplinary work, while freelancers, again unsurprisingly, see the highest gains in productivity.

What’s most the most important benefit for employees? This answer might comes as more of a shock. Despite usually having years of experience sharing offices with colleagues behind them, employees actually enjoy the social benefits of coworking more than other types of members. “Somewhat surprisingly, employees most often appreciate being a member of a community,” Foertsch reports. This is so even though they’re the least participatory members, making the least use of coworking space events.

Is there anything corporate types don’t like about coworking? The noise, apparently. “Volume… is an issue – with almost one in three bothered by the noise levels of the new workplace,” according to Foertsch, though unlike other types of coworkers, employees are content with spaces only opening during regular business hours.

All in all the results indicate that coworking is beneficial to corporate remote workers (though implying less than flattering things about the social vibe at most offices in the process) and offer no reason these three groups can’t play well together going forward. Even if corporate types aren’t the most actively engaged coworkers and are looking for slightly quieter facilities, it seems they’re fundamentally after the same things as independents and entrepreneurs.

Coworking space members, do all three groups agree on what they want from your coworking space?

Image courtesy of Flickr user Kheel Center, Cornell University.

  1. Employees may prefer coworking’s social interaction to that of their corporate office for the same reason some prefer lovers over a spouse: coworking’s relationships are new and varied, and more importantly, can be ended easily. If you quit enjoying a coworking space, just move to another or return to teleworking from home. If you’re stuck in a poisonous traditional office environment, however, your only way out is a job search that can be as stressful as a divorce.

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  2. Reblogged this on ramblingbog.

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  3. Ramon B. Nuez Jr. Thursday, May 17, 2012

    I really enjoy co-working spaces. I think they provide a great environment for entrepreneurs and freelancers. I am curious in the rise of employees also using co-working spaces.

    I wonder if this rise is due to multiple employees getting together at a co-working space; who are already telecommuting? Additionally, I wonder where a service like Cisco’s Smart Work Center’s fit into the co-working space?

    Will we see more of these hi-tech work centers combining with co-working locations?

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  4. The noise level is a complaint among corporate workers in general due to open work environments, not due to coworking specifically.

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  5. In The Netherlands we are running a ‘workspace’ (pilot) program with 50 of the largest (multi national) corporations, where employees are stimulated to work on co-work locations. These can be specialized locations, as http://www.seats2meet.com, but also it can be at excess office space at other companies than the one the worker is employed by. A realtime dashboard shows what particular knowledge and skills are available at a particular physical location ‘real time’, ( check http://s2m.to/utrechtcs ) so serendipity, the unexpected relevance when meeting other people is stimulated.

    Co working is about new value creation, and that will be done by regular employees together with freelancers, free agents or co workers in value networks on a variety of spaces, physical as well as virtual….

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