By Andy Will
Few people argue that having a working environment which supports the way you want to work plays a major factor in how productive you are. This is particularly true if you do not work in a traditional corporate office environment, whether that is working from home or some other arrangement. Now the stats are in:
Traditionally small or medium sized businesses who were looking for a professional working environment only had two options:
1. Establish their own office - with all of the costs & commitments that come with it.
2. Look at a serviced office - which offers a range of benefits but may not suit all types of businesses.
This is a niche where co-working or shared working arrangements such as Wilkin Group's FlexiWork ("Co-Working for professionals") product can offer some real value. These products are designed to adapt to each person's specific needs and provide a solution which is tailored to their needs. As the name suggests, a key feature of FlexiWork is the fact it is flexible and can evolve over time while always providing a professional and productive place to work. Some of the underestimated and understated benefits of flexible working arrangements include:
A Place to Come to Work
As obvious as it may sound, these products provide a place to come to work which brings with it a range of benefits. Importantly, having a place to come to work creates separation between your home life and work life, removing the possibility of one blurring into the other. Any small business owner is aware of the dangers of the blending of home and work lives and the fact this can mean that you are never able to switch off from the office and are never really productive when you're meant to be at work. Having 'a place to come to work' also helps to ensure that your mentality is right to be productive. Without the need to head into the office (or some place of work), it can be all too easy to leave the ugg boots on and switch into 'limited productivity mode'.
No More Cafe Guilt
When you don't have a set place to head to when it's time to get work done you will inevitably make ad-hoc arrangements on the fly which are generally less than ideal. This can take many forms, from borrowing the boardroom of a friend who has their own office to having to order an hourly coffee at your local cafe so that they don't kick you out in the middle of your report. Under either scenario, it will be difficult to be at your most productive because you are constantly dealing with distractions and working around other people. Having a space that is specifically designed for you to get work done will easily overcome these issues and ensure you are at your most productive.
Be Part of a Community
One of the most understated elements of working from a shared workspace is the fact that you become part of a community of like-minded people. Straight away, this removes the isolation that can be felt if you spend your days slaving away in the spare bedroom, but it also offers other benefits. Simply by coming to work, you are able to create relationships with potential clients, suppliers and people who could help you to build your business - and it's all done in an informal way, more often than not over a coffee. Essentially you are able to network and build deep relationships, without really trying. You will also have access to a range of skills at your fingertips which you haven't had in the past. You never know who could be working in the office next to you and how they may be able to help you and your business.
Access to the Tools You Need, Not the Ones You Don't
Having access to the right tools which will help you to get your work done is a critical element in determining how productive you will be. It should go without saying that any good working environment will provide you with access to a comfortable place to do your work, a strong WiFi connection and everything else you may require such as printers, photocopiers, meeting rooms etc.
However just as important are the things which you don't have access to. Popular items which can often trip up the home office warrior include your TV, your family constantly demanding your attention or the laundry basket of clothes which really need to be hung out. All of these potential distractions can derail your productivity in the blink of an eye and studies have shown that it can take up to 23 minutes to get back on track after even a brief distraction.
As the name suggests, a big part of the FlexiWork product is the fact it offers complete flexibility - there are a number of elements to this flexibility. For starters, you do not need to commit to a long-term contract which means that you can make changes as your business situation requires them. You can also change the way your workspace is structured at any time, for example if you have another person working with you on a project for a month, add another desk to your plan for that month or if you're going to be overseas for 6 weeks, place your plan on hold while you're away. FlexiWork really does evolve with you and your business over time.
Flexible working solutions and shared working environments offer a number of benefits over more traditional ways of looking at how you work and where you work from. These types of arrangements have been shown to have a positive effect on people's perception of their work life balance with a survey completed by MindMetre showing that 64% of people are happier in their job today than 2 years ago because of increased flexibility. The stats don't lie and it looks like flexibility will continue to drive the way we work.
Andy Will is the General Manager of Wilkin Group and works with organisations and individuals on a daily basis to develop workspace solutions which support the way they choose to work.
Andy can be contact at firstname.lastname@example.org