Coworking continues to redefine the nature of doing business. Along with the opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals, coworking alleviates the loneliness and isolation that goes hand in hand with working independently. The many benefits of coworking are hard to ignore, according to a study recently conducted by researchers with the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business.
A survey was distributed to members of various coworking communities throughout the United States between May and October 2013. Approximately 209 responses were received from members of 44 coworking communities. Survey findings indicate that people who co-work have a tendency to thrive in their work. Respondents also gave relatively high scores to the features and attributes of the coworking spaces to which they belong, suggesting that coworking meets their needs for getting work done and connecting as part of a collaborative community.
Across the survey sample, respondents also indicated that their coworking environment is where they spend the greatest percentage of time working (59 percent, on average). In addition, those surveyed cited a high level of "job and schedule control," meaning they have a high degree of flexibility in how they structure and organize their work routines. A majority of respondents also report feeling a sense of accomplishment and belonging within the coworking setting.
"With the increasing number of professionals working independently as freelancers, contractors or ‘solopreneurs,' coworking has become increasingly valuable from both a professional and social standpoint," said Greg Dell'Aquila, president of Mission 50 Workspaces, Hudson County, N.J.'s premier coworking environment. "At Mission 50, members value the community they instantly become a part of when they work here."
The researchers also spent time visiting multiple coworking communities around the country and conducted in-depth interviews at some locations. According to Lyndon Garrett, one of the study's co-authors, the team learned how an "authentic sense of community" evolves from members' sense of connectedness with others, sense of ownership in the community's well-being, and with a positive professional self-identity.
The research team, led by Professor Gretchen Spreitzer of the Ross School, reports, "So many economic, social, and technological changes are disrupting ‘traditional' ways of working and threatening to isolate many of us from the sense of community that we desire in order to thrive in our professional lives. These findings are encouraging because they illustrate how people benefit from self-organizing into these professional communities."
"A growing number of organizations are giving people choice in how they structure their work routines. We found that some people who cowork are actually employed by traditional organizations. It is encouraging to see that these ‘remote workers' are seeking and benefiting from the genuine community of others when working from these spaces," said Peter Bacevice, the study's other co-author.
Located in the penthouse of the multi-tenanted, 80,000-square-foot Hoboken Business Center, Mission 50 is a shared work environment for independent professionals, entrepreneurs and small businesses. Members are provided with daily to monthly leasing options, and a choice of private and shared workspaces. Amenities include laptop-ready desks with Internet connectivity; virtual mailing addresses; print, copy, scan and fax capabilities; and three soundproof phone booths.