Shifting the Landscape of Professional Identities Through Work Environment

Coworking spaces first came on the scene in 2005 with more than 14,000 coworking companies opening around the world. Before the launch of coworking spaces, independent professionals who were working from home were limited access to office resources through coffee shops, libraries, and other locations. Coworking revolutionized the way we work as society says Nadim Ahmed of Dallas coworking space Venture X. 

Coworking Spaces: The Evolution of Shared Working Environments

Today, coworking spaces have taken the place of remote locations, evolving to support the needs of small, medium-sized, and even large businesses. Companies located in another state, city, or even country, now rent a shared office space for employees working from a remote location.

Instead of remote workers renting out a traditional office space, going to coffee shops, or setting up a personal office at home, they can use a coworking space leased by their employer. Leasing a coworking space saves employees money because they do not have to invest in office equipment since they already have a designated work station at the coworking company.

Most coworking companies provide Wi-Fi, printers, phones, conference rooms, desks, water coolers, snack bars, and more. Additionally, small businesses and startups with uncertain business growth rates or headcount projections, run their operations from a shared working environment due to spatial flexibility.

The growing trend of using coworking spaces among businesses has led to researchers studying how shared working environments impact independent employees, considering the branding, aesthetics, amenities, and unique cultures created from diverse companies and individuals working together in one place.

What Does Research Say about Professional Identities Shifting through the Work Environment?

Researchers have discovered that employees benefit from shared working environments more than traditional office environments. At coworking spaces, employees experience increased levels of flexibility and productivity, a strong sense of community, and more opportunity to network. Finally, the researchers answered the question of how highly curated shared environments influence the professional identity of employees and their companies.

Shifting the Landscape of Professional Identities through Coworking Spaces

The researchers aimed to understand the extent employees identified with the culture of their shared working environment and if it had any influence on how they identified with their employer. Companies invest valuable time and money into helping their employees form a connection with each other and adopt the work culture through their environment.

However, in a coworking space, the presence of more than one company could mean several different norms, values, and messages, are competing against each other for the attention of employees. To understand how employees felt, they conducted a survey, which revealed the following things: Employees identified with the company they worked for instead of identifying with the coworking space even after using it for several years.

The survey investigated this further. They asked employees why they identified less with the coworking space, but even more with their company. Most of them said that it was just a space they used for a more engaging work environment. These employees benefitted from the practical aspects of using a shared working space, such as a convenient location or spatial amenities.

Other employees talked in favor of working in a coworking space, stating that coworking companies have an active role in shaping both their organizational and personal identities. These employees also noted experiencing higher productivity levels at work.

What Do Their Findings Indicate?

The researchers’ findings indicate that the brand identity of a coworking company does not diminish the identity of companies that use their space. When the brand messaging and values of coworking spaces and their employers align, employees experience a positive outcome. From the comments, researchers identified three central themes. Each theme highlights how a shared working environment can strengthen the bond and connection between the employer and their employer. Moreover, coworking spaces provide employees with a sense of credibility and professionalism not found in remote working environments.

What Does This Mean?

Simply put, it means that working from a coworking space instead of from home or a coffee shop means that a person is taking their work and the impact it has on the company they work for seriously. When a small business owner was asked about what they thought of working in a shared office environment, they stated that it benefited them because clients and colleagues viewed them as running a legitimate business.

Small business owners also stated that using a coworking space with its conference facility for meetings helps them make a positive impression on potential clients who come to discuss their projects with them.

In short, businesses should look for a coworking company that shares their values and ethics and has a similar culture as theirs. By doing this, it will help them project a better image of their business and their employees to customers or potential clients. They will also experience higher levels of employee productivity, resulting in employees identifying even more with the purpose and values established by their employer through their work environment.

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