The traditional office no longer works for most people and has become the obstacle to productivity, creativity and a happy workforce. I’m focused on creating a work environment where people can be fulfilled and remain in love with what they do whilst becoming better at it. That’s the workplace of tomorrow.

Over the past five years I’ve been active in the future of work and work-life balance discussions all over the world as the founder of Shhared, my coworking space.

Here are three things I’ve learned on my journey to living and delivering my entrepreneurial passion:

1. Let your working environment challenge you

Being active mentally and physically makes a difference. I’ve been in love with sport for as long as I can remember but it wasn’t until recently I realized the workplace can learn a great deal from the sporting world. Both are competitive environments where performance is everything.

I’ve noticed the business athletes who pass through my coworking doors regularly challenge their peers.

An increase in social interaction leads to more group engagement. People in Hamburg often take public transport or walk to work but now we’re seeing a growing number of coworkers taking their bikes and cycling in together. This athletic inspiration has helped me adjust my work mindset and transform the office from just a place of work to an environment for much more.

Blurred view of businessman pushing bicycle into office. office, workplace, rushing, bicycle
Change it up a little! Try biking to work with colleagues and leave the car parked at home. ©Getty Images

2. Build a community

Coworking is not just about providing four walls and great wi-fi. Think of it as a chance to be part of something greater than just yourself alone. It’s a community of creators, entrepreneurs, freelancers, start-ups, consultants and remote workers who develop networks of like-minded people to reach out to when needed.

Relationships naturally develop over time but being part of the office football team or running club can boost these connections.

Work colleagues each work at their own desk staying focused on their tasks. focus, work, office, workplace
A co-working environment can help build strong connections inside and outside of the office. ©Getty Images

3. Allow creativity to flourish

A progressive work environment doesn’t need clock-in cards. Having more of an emphasis on providing the freedom to be innovative will see people starting at 10am and finishing at a non-conventional time. Some people work best after a yoga class or have that great idea on a walk in the park with their pet. Unleashing the constraints that most of the modern-day workforce have can improve productivity, reduces stress and allows creative energy to flow.

The future workplace is less about the physical layout and more about how people feel at work. I’d encourage individuals and teams out there to define the right place and environment for their work; create it and change the game.

Men and women practicing yoga upward facing dog pose in yoga class studio. yoga, mindfulness, relax, activity
Take your mind out of the office for a creativity boost. ©Getty Images

Let me know how you get on in the comments below.

25 COMMENTS

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by Alex 10.04.2018
Glad to share my experiences with you. Let's keep the conversation going and stay in touch. I'd love to know what everyone thinks about the future of work. How does it look and feel?
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by adrian amariei Alex 11.04.2018
Alex, your article made me think of co-working as a team spirit with an individual (the entrepreneur) mission. The parallel to sports is interesting.
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by Alex adrian amariei 11.04.2018
What I'm sharing with the entrepreneurial and creative world is that coworking spaces should give people the platform they need to grow.

I'm glad the article made you think about the similarities between the sports and business world. Both can be very competitive and I look forward to when people can have more fun expressing themselves through what they do (both while focussed alone and in teams).
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by Zane Pritkovs Alex 21.08.2018
Great article Alex! I am convinced that Coworking is the future of work. Last week, I've attended coworking conference in Sydney, Australia and learned that coworking places often attract like-minded people fostering building communities. It's great to see that many coworking providers focus on delivering of "Having a great day at work" experiences.
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by Alex Zane Pritkovs 21.08.2018
Thanks Zane, it's starting to take off! FYI my new article for this platform is out today - https://www.gameplan-a.com/2018/08/want-to-be-successful-dont-ignore-the-signs/ - have a look!
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by Amadeo Tasca 10.04.2018
Hey Alex,

I totally agree! I think work is so much more than just staring at a computer all day. For me as someone who is an intern and hasn't been working for a long time, I noticed that personal relationships with my coworkers are one major part of a successful and less stressful collaboration process. For example, I went climbing with two of my coworkers who I do a project with, and working with them feels very natural and productive. Sport truly connects people.
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by Alex Amadeo Tasca 10.04.2018
Thanks for the support firstly 🙏🏾

Work is becoming more of a social space. Team building, relationship developing and ultimately creating that community feeling.

You are so right, it doesn’t easily or quickly form around the computer. I am encouraging people to grow in different places.

Take advantage of the opportunities sport and being open to others brings.

Glad to help and keen to keep the conversation going.
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by MA 10.04.2018
Corporate is changing so fast, we are looking to address the balance and happiness . It's all about creativity, productivity and sustainability right now.

Quality article Alex, looking forward to more insights from you with adidas. Business and sports going hand in hand - great concept.
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by Alex MA 10.04.2018
Thanks for reading and massive high fives for leaving a comment.

Being fulfilled and feeling like a valued memember of a team can go a long way. Corporate can learn a lot about that as it’s still the number one complaint.

I’d be happy to write more to help.
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by Misel 10.04.2018
Top article Alex, thanks for sharing.
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by Alex Misel 10.04.2018
No problem at all, my pleasure.
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by Behsaad Ramez 11.04.2018
Great article, Shhared is my favorite Coworking space in Hamburg, the only one I found that really embraces the values of community and coworking!
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by Alex Behsaad Ramez 11.04.2018
Big virtual high fives to you Behsaad and to all the entrepreneurs out there.

Thanks for your comment.
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by Shhared Team 11.04.2018
The start of all this is being mindful of yourself as a team and an individual. We found that over the years we've used that knowledge to go ahead and be better. Do you have any more tips for us?
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by Alex Shhared Team 11.04.2018
I love the message.

It's that mindful vs mind full piece.

Keep learning from everyone.

Many thanks, Alex
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by Julia Prantl 11.04.2018
Superb article, Alex! Thanks for sharing your learnings and answering all of my curious questions that I have asked so far! I love the parallels you draw between sport and business (because there are plenty!) and the "work when you want" part of your article made me think about opening hours in Germany, and especially Bavaria. With the current regulatory situation, it is very tough to actually live it, as stores close at 8pm, and if you are a person that works best from 10am onwards (as you described), yet wants to have time to do sports during lunch hour to increase productivity or shop for food, it is tricky. Either you sacrifice time with your colleagues in the office, or you cook and work from home after hours (by yourself) - what would be your recipe for success here? Is Shhared open 24 hours? Do you also cook and eat together with your community - in addition to playing football, or going for a run? How far do you (or would you) go in merging the two, work and life?
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by Alex Julia Prantl 11.04.2018
Wow great questions.

Firstly, time management has been a challenge in many professional contexts since the last work revolution. There isn't a one size fits all solution, which is actually an opportunity for corporates and individuals to move outside the box.

Understanding working patterns is the first step. At Shhared we don't open all areas 24hrs a day (some can be) because we know how important outside time is. We also are very aware that the level of demand to be constantly open is still actually quite low. However, we are responsive so things can and may change in the future.

The lines that separate work and life are fading, working lunches, running meetings and of course the rise of entre/intra preneurship means that for me I actually don't feel like I have the separation but nor do I crave it. I have the lifestyle I want and I love what I do and do what I love.

Thanks again for the questions; I happy to continue the conversation.

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by Rahila Khan 30.04.2018
3 very important points mentioned in creating balance personally and in the workplace. Inner peace is the new success. Freedom of expression and WELL-BEING contributes hugely to a healthy work environment.
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by Alex Rahila Khan 02.05.2018
Totally agree. Being mindful of how you work better and what's important for you, is definitely the way forward.

10 years ago inner peace would have sounded strange but today so many people are actively looking for it at work.
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by Abhijit Roy 09.05.2018
Hi Alex,
This is deep thinking exposed by you, and it will help us to grow with right perspective maintaining ultimate balance in work environment...
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by Alex Abhijit Roy 11.05.2018
The perspective is so important. Everyone deserves to be balanced and happy at work.
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by Scott Allen 01.06.2018
I have spent most of my career either as a freelancer/solopreneur or working in startups, and have recently decided to give the corporate world another try (didn't go so well the first time around). So I think I have a pretty balanced perspective on this.

I agree, generally, with all the ideas you presented here, and I think the corporate world can benefit from moves in this direction. That said, there are some realities of scale that present major challenges, if not preventing some of these things entirely.

For starters, American cities are much less dense than European cities, and generally don't have as good public transportation. Walking, biking, or bussing to work isn't a viable option for most people here.

Completely open communication/interaction works great in an office of, say, 20 people. but not so much in an office of 2,000 people - and a company of 200,000. In a small office, one person can shout, "Hey, I'm going to lunch - anyone want to join me?" In an office of 2,000, you can't -- it quickly becomes noise. Even things like a site-wide email distribution list -- not a problem in a small office, but usually doesn't work well in a large office -- a few abuse it, and everyone gets overwhelmed from the demands on their attention and quits paying attention to it at all.

In a coworking space, you can collaborate with one or two people ad hoc. As a solopreneur, you may not have a lot of meetings in the first place, and even if you do, they're one-on-one. In a large organization, for many people, a large part of their day is filled with meetings, usually with several other people. Organizationally, the need for that limits the ability for people to be completely flexible with their time.

Again, I'm not saying the corporate world can't take steps in this direction -- just recognizing that they will be slow, and some may not be feasible at all, for good reason, not just inertia.
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by Alex Scott Allen 22.06.2018
Thanks for your input Scott some great points there.

My main point is mindset. The mindset of the individual and the mind frame of the organisation you work for. There are teams of 3 who can't communicate, organise a meeting or relate to each other and there are some huge companies who have the culture to take on this new way of work successfully.

All the best with the move back to corporate. The future of work will be a hybrid of entrepreneurship and corporate life.

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn
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by Violet 22.06.2018
Wonderful article, Alex! Wish I was living in Hamburg to work next to your amazing community!
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by Alex Violet 22.06.2018
Wow! What a compliment. It's people like you that make my vision clear. All the best for you in your city and workplace.
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