Image of people working in a co-working space.

Co-Working Spaces: Does One Size Fit All?

industry-trends

By , 21/05/2019

Starting as a trend geared towards millennial tech start-ups in 2010, co-working spaces have evolved to attract larger companies with perks such as communal areas, activities and flexible working conditions. Co-working space veteran, WeWork has opened 19 offices in London alone since its inception, with 10 additional locations announced for this year. Loosely based on the Google and Facebook campus models, co-working spaces not only provide a modern and engaging office facility, but they transform the way we work and blend our professional and social lives.

A study published in the Harvard Business Review suggests that people who work in such environments have more job control; view their jobs as more meaningful; and feel like they are part of a community.

This type of environment can be beneficial to diverse teams who have a range of working and learning styles. Kolb (1984) suggests that there are 4 of these styles:

Diverging: “People in this group tend to gather information and use their imagination when it comes to problem solving. They often perform better in activities like brainstorming or group work and are typically interested in others.”

The co-working space environment would suit diverging individuals as they have the opportunity to work collaboratively in the lively communal areas with their peers. Additionally, companies can make use of the many conference and workshop rooms to hold brainstorming sessions – Arctic Shores have often brought various teams and functions together to have creative discussions and generate ideas from a range of perspectives.

Assimilating: “This learning preference is for a concise, logical approach where ideas and concepts are more important than people. It is an important learning style in science and information-based careers. People in this group tend to prefer readings, exploring analytic models, and having time to think things through.”

Although most co-working space providers offer tenants their own equipped office spaces away from the noisier communal areas, they are not always guaranteed to be quiet! The flexible nature of WeWork and the range of office spaces that they provide has allowed Arctic Shores to occupy two within our London premises. The larger of the two usually houses sales and client services teams who are more social and collaborative in their work, and the smaller one is used by our in-house team of scientists and researchers who need a quieter environment to concentrate on data and analysis.

Converging: “People with a converging learning style can solve problems and will use their learning to find solutions to practical issues. People with a converging style like to experiment with new ideas, to simulate, and to work with practical applications.”

Such individuals can opt to concentrate on these tasks alone, or try out now ideas in their teams. Often, our developers choose to get their heads down and concentrate on coding at our Manchester office, but have previously held hackathons to generate new ideas and work together on our upcoming solutions. The resources offered by being based within a co-working space allows our team to try out their new ideas in a multitude of ways.

Accommodating: “The accommodating style is ‘hands-on’, and relies on intuition rather than logic. These people use other people’s analysis, and prefer to take a practical, experiential approach. They are attracted to new challenges and experiences, and will tend to rely on others for information than carry out their own analysis. This learning style is prevalent within the general population.”

As per those who have a diverging learning style, accommodating individuals can take advantage of group work and brainstorming sessions. However, they may get something out of attending events like lunch and learns, or knowledge-sharing workshops, that are held on a regular basis within our premises. These practical events are open to the entire WeWork community and provide an opportunity to learn from (and network with) those outside your organisation.

Often, co-working spaces also offer activities like yoga classes, themed ‘happy hours’ and pop-up shops in addition to such learning events. These immensely increase work/life balance; the office space is no longer just a place of work, but one of reflection, relaxation and socialising. It is therefore not surprising that 60% of individuals based in a co-working space report feeling more relaxed at home as well. Leaving stress at the office and having a work/life balance is important for maintaining positive health and relationships, regardless of learning styles.

The values of co-working spaces lie in community, collaboration and learning – creating meaning and a sense of belonging through idea sharing and by helping others. These values are aligned and can suit any learning styles, making such environments universally suitable for all.

Have you had experience in a shared working space? What do you think it says about your preferred learning style?

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