Want to Build a Successful Work Environment of the Future?
Here’s three things I’ve learned from creating a coworking space in Hamburg.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Quality article Alex, looking forward to more insights from you with adidas. Business and sports going hand in hand - great concept.
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.
Thanks for your comment.
It's that mindful vs mind full piece.
Keep learning from everyone.
Many thanks, Alex
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.
10 years ago inner peace would have sounded strange but today so many people are actively looking for it at work.
This is deep thinking exposed by you, and it will help us to grow with right perspective maintaining ultimate balance in work environment...
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.
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
First, while I don't consider myself competitive, my high drive for play definitely shows up in sports, and at work. This is vital in my mission to help teachers and families sense into young children, and connect with full presence.
Also, tapping into our source, whether it be sports or something else, helps us to more authentically bear our truest gifts. For me, working with horses to prepare them for relationship with children helps me to be more effective with horses and humans! Even if that doesn't show up directly at work, it's with me in all that I do.
Thanks for writing, Alex. Keep it up! I look forward to learning together!