In the coming years, merely having an aesthetic working environment isn’t going to cut it. Progressive co-working spaces, spaces that are promoting ‘co-work 2.0’, have already begun to create inclusive communities within their environments. The essence of co-work 2.0 lies in the collaboration and innovation that occurs in a diverse community, which itself encourages a free flow of ideas and creativity. Unlike co-work 1.0, which focuses primarily on the ambiance and interior design of a space, productivity and simplicity are the main characteristics of co-work 2.0. Diversity and inclusion are also key aspects of a compelling co-work 2.0 workplace.
The world is currently undergoing a change of mindset, in regard to workplaces, because millennials are gradually making up a larger percentage of the workforce. Unlike previous generations, millennials expect more than job stability and a competitive salary. They crave dynamic environments that are open to change and discussion. Therefore, it’s critical, that by 2019, co-working spaces are meeting the demand of potential members by enhancing their community’s inclusivity and flexibility.
A co-working space shouldn’t be an isolated entity within the district it’s situated. More and more businesses and freelancers are looking for spaces that have a local identity. Freelancers, for example, welcome the opportunity to mix with big corporations, gain experience and expand their businesses. While large-scale, traditional enterprises appreciate the injection of fresh impetus that nimble start-ups can offer. Spaces that have picked up on this growing trend and have begun integrating into their neighborhood, are going to have a great advantage when it comes to attracting new members. It’s key that co-working spaces look to benefit from the shared economies found within their local neighborhoods, as this will be a great value-added proposition for any prospective members.
Meanwhile, the health of a community plays a crucial part too. When focusing on the development of their businesses, members like to know that they are not alone and that they have a back-up at all times. This should be one of the key offerings of a co-working space, as newcomers may initially feel detached as those surrounding them will not be direct colleagues. This will become increasingly important in 2019 because, as previously mentioned, the younger members of the workforce are no longer simply looking for spaces to work in, but for a space in which their businesses can grow and where they feel they will make important connections.
Technology plays a part in almost everything we do nowadays — nothing new there. However, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and the proliferation of big data, as a driver of business decisions, will be more relevant than ever in the next few years. The ability of co-working spaces to adapt, and integrate AI, will be crucial in helping them optimize and streamline mundane tasks such as invoicing and organizing inventories. AI can also assist in personalizing the needs of each member and this can be done quick enough to adapt to the fast-changing growth of each business.
Moreover, when a co-working space is expanding across numerous sites, an improved utilization of human resources per location is essential. That’s when AI, chatbots in particular, will prove their worth and help maximize productivity. It’s common in the co-working industry that community teams have to be at different sites every day. With the help of AI, these teams can better utilize their time and ensure that appointments and schedules run smoothly even when they’re not physically on-site. What’s more, intelligent assistants are able to handle the early stages of member recruitment, manage simple HR tasks and personalize a member’s co-working experience. By 2020, 3.7 million workers are expected to work remotely for at least half the year. AI will become a necessity for these workers as they will not have direct access to HR.
As more women take on the role of working mother, the dynamics of the workplace will need to change. This is especially true in Hong Kong where maternity leave stands at around 10-12 weeks – a few weeks shy of the International Labor Organization’s standard of 14 weeks. Many offices also fail to provide child-care services and breastfeed-friendly facilities for working mothers, further disadvantaging women who are trying to balance a career and start a family. In order to support these women, in being both moms and businesswomen, co-working spaces must adapt.
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One of the best ways to do so is to provide childcare facilities, such as babysitting services, at the workplace and ensure flexible opening hours. In the coming years, as more women join co-working spaces, and as more female-only co-working spaces being to appear – as they have been doing in the United States, unisex spaces will need to ensure they are providing sufficient support to prospective female members if they wish to remain competitive.
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