The enterprise of the future might not involve an office at all. Thanks to cutting-edge business communications tools like video conferencing software, companies might not need to have a traditional facility where their employees sit together and collaborate on important projects.
This has lead to a rise in coworking, a practice that involves shared work environments. Basically, an employer signs up for a few desks in an office that a bunch of other businesses also use from time to time.
Coworking has become a popular option for many organizations, especially startups and those with virtual workforces. According to a recent study by DeskWanted, there were 853 coworking spaces in the United States and 2,498 around the world as of February 2013, representing a global growth rate of 87 percent in 12 months.
The strategy makes sense from a financial perspective. Eryc Branham, the chief revenue officer of RocketSpace, told Inc. Magazine that some companies can't just buy or rent their own offices anymore.
"If you are a 15-person startup in Portland and need to find 3,000 square feet of office space, good luck. The economics just don't make sense and it's a major distraction," Branham said. "The traditional commercial real estate model is just broken."
Stop, collaborate and listen
Cash may rule everything around you, but reducing your real estate bill isn't the only benefit of coworking. If you share a space with other businesses, workers will get to know each other and collaborate on new projects. In an interview with Fast Company, Dodd Caldwell, founder of Loft Resumes and MoonClerk, explained that his team works closely with groups from other startups.
"Sometimes that's just tapping someone outside of your team on the shoulder and asking their opinion. Other times, it may be a 15-minute whiteboarding session with a developer on another startup," Caldwell said.
Imagine how beneficial it would be to have a fresh pair of eyes look at a problem your business is facing. Even just getting basic feedback on a new product or initiative can go a long way toward helping your company grow and improve in both the short and long terms.
Some company leaders might be scared to make the leap from an office to a coworking space. After all, it seems almost like a crazy idea to ditch your headquarters when you only have partial access to another facility.
However, many major organizations have already jumped on the coworking bandwagon. Fast Company reports that Google, Amazon and Twitter all offer some type of coworking option to their employees. Others have used the strategy when they couldn't access their regular offices. The news source points out that Gawker, Vimeo, Tumblr and Foursquare all rented temporary, shared facilities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
What you need to make coworking work
Getting started with coworking is as easy as one, two, three: