Close to 80% of private sector jobs in Canada (ie outside the government sector) are in small to medium size businesses with less than 10 employees. A good percentage of these small businesses are solo freelancers who have either decided that working for a large company is not the answer for them, or the company helped them make that decision by laying them off. Either way, this segment of the workforce is growing at a faster rate than ever before and right along with it, the growth (in size and number) of coworking spaces. While most people can imagine what shared office space looks like, it’s harder for them to understand the benefits of coworking specifically.. It’s perhaps even more elusive for most people to appreciate the larger social and economic benefits of participating in such a space until you experience it first hand so we’ve outlined some of the ways that coworking contributes to the well-being of the local community and economy beyond the individual coworker.
Coworking provides a flexible work option for people in the community who might otherwise not be able to work in a regular employment scenario whether due to the rigid work schedule or commute required.
Coworking spaces are like incubators for tiny companies that foster growth through collaboration, shared knowledge and resources, networking and increased exposure to opportunities. Growth equals potential for local job creation.
Coworking spaces are full of courageous people, fearlessly driving their business forward with no promise of a salary beyond their smarts, hard work and perseverance. Courageous people are also more likely to stand up for what’s important for the local community (and really important in the event of a zombie apocalypse).
Most people don’t commute to a coworking space...they walk. This has numerous benefits including reduced environmental footprint, increased disposable income (from not paying for gas or even a car to commute) and increased spending in the local economy (since they are not going elsewhere to work and spend more of their time and money in the local economy).
People who work in a coworking space vs at home or in a coffee shop are more productive due to fewer distractions and increased focus. Other members in the space are there to get work done, acting as a kind of viral inspiration. People who excel at getting-things-done are great for the local community and are more likely to participate in local social mission organizations and local activism.
Since most people live close to where they cowork, they enjoy an improved lifestyle and family life. Popping home to walk the dog or being close by for those times the after school childcare fails them. They seldom miss that school spring concert due to traffic delays and are more involved in their kids lives, schools and extracurricular activities.
People who work in a coworking space are happier. If they were not happy, they’d leave. Thus, coworking supports the retention of happy people who smile and say “good morning” when walking down the sidewalk, creating a chain reaction of happiness everywhere they go. #RandomActsOfKindness
Coworking spaces have solved some of the world’s most pressing problems… really. Have you ever heard the stories of how the world’s leading scientists, engineers, political leaders, tech people or designers “got together in a room to brainstorm and share ideas”... that sounds a lot like a coworking set up to me. What pressing problems your local coworking space might solve is up for grabs.
Written by Kevin McIntosh
Co-founder of Lokaal, a coworking space for creative entrepreneurs.