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Think Outside the Cubicle With Coworking

07/20/2015 12:36 EDT | Updated 07/20/2016 05:59 EDT
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Traditional workplaces are becoming a thing of the past. In the constantly evolving and socially driven society we live in today, the very definition of a workplace has changed. Ask a millennial and you'll be surprised at how they describe their ideal or current workplace. If you're a millennial yourself, you'll know exactly what they are talking about. One way this generation is changing the way we work and a physical demonstration of an ideal environment is through coworking.

So what is coworking?

Coworking has become a global movement where work is done outside the confines of a traditional workspace and is instead in a shared working environment either in an office or other public space. A coworking space is occupied by various individuals and groups that are not employed by the same organization. Rather, every person in a given coworking environment works for various employers or self-employed. In some cases, individuals share one facility and resources, which significantly reduces operating costs of any business. In others, they have coworking spaces in the office towers they work in.

Coworking was first adopted by small businesses, freelancers and start-ups, however today, even corporations are opting for the coworking trend, by building spaces that allow interested employees to participate. They've recognized an environment that expands beyond the often isolated work space in a corporate office is more creative and increases productivity.

This type of work environment promotes innovation, collaboration and builds communities that often become a culture in itself. Toronto is home to a variety of coworking spaces that are becoming increasingly popular. One coworking hotspot is The Centre For Social Innovation whose concept began in 2003. Millennials, because they make up the largest percentage of professionals who use them, play an important role in the emerging trend of coworking.

If there is one thing that millennials desire it's engaging workplaces.

This want and preference sheds light on this trend and the need for traditional workplaces to change in order to attract the new generation of professionals. In a study done for Knoll, Inc., the work patterns of over 15,000 employees in 40 countries, across four generations was closely assessed. The results showed several generational differences when it came to work habits and preferences. These results also demonstrate why millennials are attracted to coworking environments rather than traditional workspaces.

Let's face it, millennials don't want to be confined to an office or stuck in a cubicle all day long. If given the choice, they would rather choose an environment that's open, unconventional, and where they can play off of the ideas of other like-minded individuals. This in itself is a catalyst for the way we communicate and market. Businesses are picking up on this trend and noticing the benefits coworking has not only had on their business, but their employees.

Adapting to this trend and change in the workforce is without a doubt, changing conventional work spaces and this is where businesses need to pay attention. The number of people using coworking spaces has increased significantly in a short span of time. In a research study done by German-based industry magazine DeskMag, reports indicate that as of February 2013 about 109,000 people in 81 countries were members of coworking spaces, compared to only 50,000 people recorded in the previous year and some suggest the number will continue to double year-over-year.

The German magazine's database also shows a significant number of Canadians using coworking spaces, including 94 Canadian coworking spaces with about 4,100 members, with the majority of the facilities located in Toronto and other metropolitan areas in Ontario. Coworking has become so popular in Toronto that Mayor John Tory officially proclaimed February 24, 2015 as "Coworking Toronto Day" in the city.

If there is one thing the coworking trend is teaching corporations, it's that change needs to be implemented. That change has to provoke a desire to create and expand the ability to communicate with and among its employees, by giving them a space where they don't feel confined, but inspired.

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