Why human resources should learn to love coworking

New global research by Deloitte has pointed to organisational change as being the key human resources trend for the next few years.

The study, ‘Rewriting the rules for the digital age: 2017 Global Human Capital Trends’, found that executives across the world believe “business expectations, needs, and demands are evolving faster than ever before” and that in order for businesses to thrive in this new era, they have to be agile, flexible and facilitate networks of teams in a collaborative environment.

This, of course, will put pressure on human resources departments to manage these networks no matter where or how they work. At the same time, HR practitioners also have to manage overall organisational change in the workforce and the workplace, and all that demands. The stress and uncertainty can be scary but is vital in harnessing the dynamism and power of the digital age, which, Deloitte researchers say, will take hold and become the norm.

In this new world, more nimble organisations will have certain advantages, but successful large organisations will keep pace by building stronger ecosystems and partnerships that broaden their workforces and capabilities.

New organisational design means thinking of new organisational workspaces, differently. And one of those ways should be using cowork and serviced office spaces that foster collaboration and employee wellbeing. It’s something human resources managers are learning to love.

Or should be …

Collaboration and innovation are hallmarks of coworking. Coupled with the flexibility required by generations X and Y, it can boost performance, reduce costs, encourage knowledge sharing and catalyse staff engagement and creativity.

Agile workspaces and the different locations of cowork spaces and serviced offices can be a tool for attracting and retaining talent, as well as facilitating business growth by exposure to new thinking and collaboration.

Coworking allows HR departments to accommodate sudden or unexpected changes in staffing levels, while companies with multiple coworking spaces can offer their staff a choice of workplaces and workspaces. Breaking commuting patterns and giving staff such flexibility adds to their wellness.

Cowork spaces aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There are different cowork models, from membership schemes across various locations to specialised hubs concentrating on particular sectors. In the US, for example, there’s a chain of cowork spaces for women only. There are open-plan spaces and secure closed offices. Cowork space developers are aware of this and design with flexiblity in mind.

And of course, of huge concern is data and IT security. Reputable cowork space will always take client needs into consideration, as it is important for them to know what industry they are in and what they will use the network for. With this information they will always tweak and make changes to ensure they meet clients’ IT security needs. IT departments and technicians build personal relationships with all clients to ensure personal service.

As any upgrades to technology and implementation of new technologies benefit cowork clients, cowork operations ensure they’re ahead of the curve.

In fact, human resources managers can learn a lot from coworking community managers. They’re on the ground, listening to conversations, connecting people who could be useful to each other. Unlike human resources ‘back office’ operations, cowork managers are always front of office and in touch with what their communities need and want.

As South African futurologist, Dion Chang, says, “HR people [in corporate offices] have to really figure out what their futures are going to look like."

Mari Schourie is CEO of The Workspace, part of the InteSpace group.

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