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How co-working spaces are helping new and established businesses thrive

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By Lars Wittig

WITH the phenomenal success of companies like Airbnb and Grab, it’s hard to deny that there’s value in the notion of a sharing economy. And as consumers, employees and entrepreneurs all continue to move towards a culture of networking and collaboration, it only makes sense that businesses are starting to feel the benefits too.

In the Philippines, a recent study by International Workplace Group (IWG), parent company of Regus and Spaces, it is revealed that business competitiveness improves to 94% and productivity to 93%. Recognizing that flexible work arrangements help those by providing both employers and employees flexibility and work life balance. Ninety-three percent believe flexible working helps their business grow.

In addition to helping employees’ better cope with the traffic in Metro Manila, flexible work solutions such as serviced offices and co-working spaces offer both growing and established businesses the opportunity to surround themselves with like-minded people in a shared workspace.

But just why are businesses of all sizes so excited about the concept of co-working? And what kind of real advantages can it give them over the traditionally rented office?

THE CHANCE TO NETWORK AND COLLABORATE
Any freelancer or entrepreneur working from home is usually quick to tell you all the things they do not miss: the sweaty commute, the overbearing manager, and the confines of a gray cubicle. But what’s not so apparent are the things that are often much harder to find at home — the valuable advice and opinions of your colleagues, the camaraderie of a working group or the all-important distinction between your home and your job.

However, those who get involved in a co-working space often get the best of both worlds. They can keep the flexibility of working when and where they want, but also learn from, and develop networks with, like-minded people who are facing similar challenges.

And if you think taking your work into an open, collaborative environment means you’ll be more distracted, think again. According to Deskmag’s Global Coworking Survey, 62% of people joining a co-working space said the quality of their work had improved and 68% said they were able to focus better.

BEING PART OF A COMMUNITY
For many people, working from home can be an isolating experience. Conversely, those still stuck in a traditional office setting have to put up with the kinds of internal conflicts that are typical of almost any organization: competition, politics, and unwelcome office policies.

But in an environment where many of your neighbors are not necessarily your fellow employees, you are free to share ideas and perspectives without any of the potential backlash or ladder-climbing you might experience in a corporate setting. And it is not just about improving your work. According to Deskmag’s survey, 70% of co-workers said they felt healthier and almost 90% reported a boost in self-confidence when compared to working in a conventional space.

TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR JOB
As the commercial real estate in Metro Manila becomes prohibitive, flexible workspace solutions become more attractive especially where the business owner or manager is able to manage costs operationally. It allows businesses to scale up or down according to market sentiments, business needs and performance.

Co-working in a serviced office is all about flexibility. Without the rigid limitations of a traditional office, you are free to use a workspace only as much as you want to — and that means only paying for as much as you need. If you need a quiet, private space to buckle down, you can find it. When you want to get some advice from the people you share space with, the option is there.

It is this sense of freedom and choice that can empower you, giving you a greater sense of ownership and responsibility towards your work. And when you feel like you have more control over how you work, you are more likely to spend your days motivated, inspired and stress-free.

GIVING YOUR WORK MORE MEANING
Working in the middle of a group of people from different organizations means you have an automatically distinct sense of identity when it comes to you and your business. There is no need to put on a certain personality in order to fit into some pre-determined company culture, and that means you can really be yourself.

On top of that, there is an inherent feeling of making a contribution outside of the scope of your own business. As you share resources, advice and ideas with those working around you, helping others with their own similar struggles and concerns becomes a natural part of your daily routine.

Finally, the way you choose to work places you at the heart of a progressive social movement that values the concepts of collaboration, community, mutual learning and sustainability — which could be a lot more rewarding than just plugging away at home by yourself all week.

Lars Wittig is the country manager of Regus Philippines. Regus is the world’s largest provider of flexible workspace solutions.