(By Natalie Burg)
“Retaining great employees is an ever-present challenge, and inevitably, some excellent employees reluctantly leave jobs to move away with a partner, schooling or for other reasons. Co-working facilities offer a professional, regulated way to keep the best employees working for you, even when you can’t keep them in town.“
Workplaces are changing. Allowing employees to work remotely has never been more high profile, forcing many companies to confront the typical slew of concerns: How will company collaboration happen? How will our network remain secure? How can we be sure our remote employees don’t spend their time folding laundry or napping?
Fortunately, a third option is emerging.
“Everybody keeps talking about the changing relationship between employee and employer. Co-working sort of offers an out, a gradual easement of that crisis,” says Bill Tozier, co-owner of the Ann Arbor, Mich. co-working space,Workantile. “Rather than just sending people home, this remote employee relationship is a compromise that can work.”
Co-working facilities are often regarded as hubs for freelancers and entrepreneurs. At Workantile, between 20 and 30 percent of the members are remote employees. Among them runs the gamut of employers, including a non-profit, startup, university and a company with more than 400 employees.
“We love remote employees,” says Brendan Chard, a member and maintainer at Workantile. ”This place works when people really show up. Remote employees have a nine-to-five. In terms of being compatible with a co-working society, they are excellent.”
Employees and employers are beginning to love the co-working arrangement as well, and here are a few of the reasons why:
Co-working spaces typically place a high value on building a healthy working community, which means you can’t sleep at your desk there anymore than you can at work. They also automatically fulfill a psychological need employees often have to get into a productive mindset.
“I know [people who work from home] who have these rules,” says Workantile co-owner Dave Nelson. “They’re like, you have to have your shoes on, and then you’re really working. All that stuff is baked in before you get here.”
Unless an employer is willing to pay for expensive office tools for each remote employee, the equipment at each home office can make everything from printing and scanning to video conferencing an added challenge for remote workers. Sometimes at-home networks can even jeopardize security.
“Here, you can have a really robust Internet connection, and that allows us to tackle stuff that would be difficult for people to do at home,” says Nelson. “Especially if they are not technically savvy.”
Retaining great employees is an ever-present challenge, and inevitably, some excellent employees reluctantly leave jobs to move away with a partner, schooling or for other reasons. Co-working facilities offer a professional, regulated way to keep the best employees working for you, even when you can’t keep them in town.
That benefits the employer and improves the quality of life for employees.
“It’s a blessing of our age that we no longer have to choose between one person’s life,” says Nelson. “This allows people to be life partners and pursue different paths.”
Cory Williamson, a Workantile member and employee of a large California firm, didn’t find working remotely from home distracting; she just found it boring.
“I can concentrate at home, but I didn’t have any external life,” says Williamson. “This is good for me because I’m not isolated.”
That sense of community is good for more than warm, fuzzy feelings, says Nelson. While each co-working member represents a different industry with different challenges, they work together to brainstorm issues just like any other co-workers.
“You can take any set of educated, competent human beings and they will be able to solve problems together,” Nelson says. “And none of us are competing for a promotion.”
From extending employees an extra benefit to retaining great staff members, even when they move away, co-working allows for some surprising options for conventional employers. Even those for whom the idea of letting loose their employees into the wild sounds terrifying, places like Workantile can make easing into remote employment a little less intimidating and feel a lot less wild.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”