Flexible Offices - Why have they become so popular?
Coworking has become a matter of course in today's global society. With a rocketing increase of entrepreneurs, solo entrepreneurs, freelancers and digital nomads, the millennial generation is sure of one thing: It wants freedom in working life and more control over its career.
In parallel with this development (or probably in combination with it), the world has become much smaller in the last twenty years. Before Covid-19, there was nothing special about taking a year or two on an exchange in Australia - or going backpacking for six months to Southeast Asia. With the digital revolution, the job can keep up with the adventures. But not if you have to sign a one-, three- or five-year contract with your office provider.
1999 - The world's first flexible office solution opens in New York
Just over 20 years ago, 42 West 24 was founded in Manhattan. The company still exists today, offering attic offices in the heart of New York City. The reason why this is not considered a proper coworking space is about one of the keywords related to the office phenomenon: Community. Community is an essential part of separating a purely physical office with flexible contracts from the coworking concept.
Therefore, most agree that it was not until 2005 that the real coworking trend began when Brian Neuberg started the San Francisco Coworking Space. With roots in hacker communities from Berlin in the '90s, this became a flexible office that focused on the essential human part of what coworking stands for. They rented a desk and had favorable contracts, but SFCS was more than just that. This was a place where you could get colleagues and friends across industry, company or work area.
The rootless generation - where all dreams can come true
We fast forward to the present and today's young working people who have grown up during the digital revolution. Before Covid-19 struck, there was enormous mobility among the world's in-country workers. It was common to work on a freelance basis or accept job offers on the other side of the globe. For those who work themselves, are in the process of starting something for themselves, or run a company in rapid but unpredictable growth, traditional office space has thus become a bigger and bigger challenge.
It is no longer attractive to be tied to a single place. When you do not know where in the world you are in 12, six, or three months, flexible offices are not just an advantage - it is a necessity. Therefore, it is no wonder that one has seen such a massive increase in coworking concepts worldwide. Today's professionals are expected to be flexible, and then they expect flexibility around their workplace in return.
In addition to this, it can be argued that the opportunity to 'go to the office', no matter how small or young you are as a company or entrepreneur, leads to essential democratization of working life. Having a dynamic community to work in can lead to security and inventiveness where they may not have had room to develop before.
The economic benefits of flexibility
A flexible office comes with significant financial benefits as well. When you are in the start-up phase of something new or work for yourself, traditional office costs are entirely unrealistic. It is also impossible to know how to proceed in just a few months, not to mention several years ahead. A work table is perhaps all you need to get started - and coworking facilities offer this opportunity.
This is the future office - the solution of innovation - where it is possible to create something of your own in a professional area without costing the shirt. Most flexible offices will also offer an open work landscape, where you choose a vacancy depending on what is available on a particular day. It's kinder to the wallet. Besides, you then sit with many other people who also have exciting ideas and dreams about the future.
For a generation that has grown up praising that everything you want can become a reality - that you can become what you want - it is easy to see why coworking entices. It is a practical, physical and economical tool you can use on the road to your dream. Whether you want to save the world with potato plastic, invent the new Uber, or take six months to develop your next project.
Flexible offices and Covid-19
Freedom has been an essential part of working life for a long time. Even for those who have had a permanent office to go to for a long time, commuting has brought with it a specific flow in everyday life. The Covid-19 pandemic put a quick and brutal stop to the feeling of freedom when virtually the entire Norwegian workforce remained in their home office. An additional disadvantage of this was that they had expensive, unused offices that accounted for a large part of many companies' already significant financial loss.
If there is one thing the pandemic has shown us, flexibility is a critical part of business today. Of course, the world will get back on its feet. Nevertheless, 2020 has been a prime example of what it means to change efficiently and sustainably. Of course, office space and the way these are rented out are a big part of this.
During the digital revolution, flexible offices, or coworking spaces, became the first step towards professional freedom in working hours, focus and workplace. Now they are starting to become the only natural choice for companies and entrepreneurs who understand how quickly things can change.