Procurement · 15 October 2019

5 things to consider before entering into a trendy office space

shared space wont work

The bottomless beer taps and endless supplies of caffeine that shared spaces such as WeWork offer have set the barometer to how attractive we consider an office space to be. It’s led employees to be increasingly picky about their work environment.

So disguising a kettle and store-branded rich-tea biscuits as a “perk” will no longer entice an office team. As employees standards rise, you might feel the pressure to buckle and fold and impulsively sign a lease for a trendy new shared-office space. But, before you rush in you must weight out the pros and cons, because all that glimmers in these modern spaces are certainly not always gold.

1. Are they worth the price?

The average office space in a WeWork building is £14,400 per month. For many employers, this is not a price they can justify paying, and can you blame them?

So, perhaps its time to get savvy and invest just a fraction of that money into something else such as a paid lunch for your team or salary rises for your best performing staff.

2. Moving can stall productivity…

Also what many businesses owners find is that it causes a lot of upheavals to root and replan an office.

This can weigh down productivity and stall your team’s productivity especially if there’s a gap between moving out of the office, (and shutting down and transporting all that equipment) and entering the new. You may find there’s even half a day or more where staff don’t have access to their desktops to actually do any work due to the move.

What’s more, many of these ‘shared-space’ companies use a plethora of gimmicky props to make the space look enticing, however, in reality, they serve a questionable purpose.

For example, Adam Neumann’s WeWork has been rocked by a scandal that broke regarding his state of the art phone booths which have now allegedly been closed down due to releasing high levels of  (cancer-causing), Formaldehyde.

Phone booth
‘The high life’: one of Neumann’s now prohibited phone booths.

3. There can be a lot of distraction

In shared spaces, when it comes to finding a place to work, it’s often a case ‘of every man for himself’, as people operate on first-come,first-serve basis.

In fact, the average time spent by hot deskers looking for a desk is 18 minutes.

In a UK wide research conducted by HotDeskPlus, a workplace management app, 46% of respondents admitted that unstructured hot-desking is bad for their productivity, with an estimated average decrease in productivity levels of 31%.

So your employees may be too busy fighting off other candidates for the desk with the best window view as opposed to trying to compile their reports.

What’s worse, a poorly structured “free-range” workspace can see a loss of up to two weeks of productivity a year, due to the small but time-consuming tasks such as a setting up a laptop or sorting out a hot drink.

“Some office sharers, have been overly loud on the phone – is there anything worse than a stressed-out recruiter with a Bluetooth headset?” – Olivia, a shared space inhabitant. 

4. There can be a lack of team bonding

people rushing at a desk
Too close for comfort? – in a shared office space, many employees find themselves working next to people they have no work-related relationship with.

The shared space can see a melting pot of all careers all merged together under the one roof. And this can be quite a sweet scene – both a random recruiter and a digital journalist huddled together at the one desk.

But when they are employed for different companies and working towards separate and unrelated goals, the reality of them teetering off for Friday drinks at the end of the week is unlikely.

The schism between employees when they are forced to disperse across the office floor can be quite isolating and they can lose out on valuable team bonding time.

The same survey by HotDeskPlus saw 22% of people saying they find it difficult to bond as a team as they were always moving desks and 19% went as far as to say they feel alienated from their colleagues.

Instead of creating an environment where employees have to exchange pleasantries or listen to the distracting phone calls of an irrelevant graphic designer, it may be better for your productivity to invest in better team-building activities instead, or better still, hire a separate office space for your team to work together in.

5.  Shared office politics

Unlike with singularly contained office spaces who often have the luxury of an in house maintenance team, that all staff know on a first-name basis.  In a shared space environment there is often a lack of knowledge regarding who to report to. Blurred lines of communication can make it difficult for inhabitances to remember when the next fire drill is or even who to report to if there are experiencing tech issues or blocked toilet troubles.

Do we need to go ‘back to basics’?

While increasing numbers of people are embracing this laissez-faire, open-style way of working, is there a gap in the market to bring back the “vintage” old school style of a self-contained space?

Because the reality is, if you’re paying a high fee to have staff dispersed around a ‘trendy’ shared office space, you may as well be running a remote office.

Back in the day, did employees concentrate more when they worked in a cramped cubical where the only distractions were a ticking clock and the buzz of a nearby water cooler? – Perhaps not. But today we are undoubtedly spoiled for choice. That being said- time and time again what employees cry out for is a sense of unity and support in the corporate environment, and if a shared space can’t offer that, then maybe it’s best you look elsewhere…

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Laura is the Junior Reporter at Real Business and Business Advice. She's the first point of call for any PR, business owner or industry insider looking to tell a story of entrepreneurial inspiration, retell some key advice, or a ground-breaking news story. She is the core ambassador for the brand(s) and can be found attending high profile events and meeting disruptive business owners across London – and beyond.

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