I visited the renovated Citadel building in Marion this week. A few hours later, I register as one of the first annual members of the Entrepreneurial and Technical Opportunities (EThOs) program that will be hosted there.
This coworking membership gives me access to the incredible private offices, conference rooms and kitchenette of the space.
More importantly, it gives me access to people again.
Make no mistake, I love working from home and always expect my business to be home more than half the time. But as the pandemic has blocked business travel and forced us to turn our homes into full-time offices, we all need space to spread our wings.
Program Director Russell Williams did a remarkable job giving new life to the 107-year-old neoclassical building. Already vibrant on the first floor with The Vault Café – one of my favorite restaurants in Marion – the EThOs program is an exciting new business incubator funded by the Watermark Auto Group Foundation.
Comprising themed offices including The Saluki Room, Wildcat Den, The Hanger, and The Bike Shop, the coworking space feels like a big city with the small town charm that accompanies downtown Marion.
Coworking is nothing new. But it’s newly popular.
Coworking spaces are shared office spaces that can be used by individuals, teams, and even entire businesses. Most coworking offices have everything you could need for a productive work day, including office furniture, Wi-Fi, conference rooms, and food.
According to Statista’s global coworking space statistics, there are currently around 18,700 coworking spaces worldwide. The number is increasing daily and is expected to reach nearly 26,000 by 2025.
The impact of the pandemic on this growth cannot be ignored.
Coworking isn’t just great for workers. The boost coworking has on productivity, motivation, and overall happiness can have a big impact on bottom lines.
According to the Global Coworking Cohort, GCUC, 84% of workers say working in such spaces makes them more engaged and motivated. Sixty-nine percent of respondents say they have acquired new skills and 68 percent say they have improved their existing skills.
Such statistics could influence the corporate work planning carried out by human resources departments around the world. Instead of giving employees the option to work from home full time, companies should consider investing in unique coworking spaces to give their employees more flexibility without killing collaboration entirely.
Solve the challenges of working from home
According to a National Council on Compensation Insurance study, only 6% of employees worked predominantly from home and about three-quarters of workers had never worked from home before the pandemic.
As of May 2020, more than a third of employees were working from home due to the pandemic. This dramatic increase in remote work has created cracks in the professional and personal lives of workers.
Loneliness, time management issues, and poor digital communication are just a few of the issues reported by new remote workers. Other than driving my wife crazy, luckily I didn’t have to deal with these issues.
I will always love to work from home, but I recognize that the EThOs program will help me reconnect with other professionals while giving me the flexibility to continue working from home a few days a week.
Arriving at my parking space on Monday will seem strange to me. I haven’t had an office outside my home since 2013. But if that sounds too strange to me, I’ll be free to turn around and settle into my home office.
And that’s the beauty of the job in 2021.