Why My Employer Lets Me Work From Anywhere

Three weeks ago, I started working one day a week from TwoSpace co-working space just to get a break from the office. Since then, I have opted to spend 4 days out of the office and here’s why: (I normally don’t use this word, but…) co-working spaces are cool.

At first, the struggle was convincing the boutique marketing agency that I work with to let their newest employee ditch the office. The way I, and this cheekily titled article, see it is, “If you can’t trust your employees to work flexibly, why hire them in the first place?” I will give it to the employers though that the impression of co-working and flexible work styles don’t exactly scream ‘productivity’. However, that iffy impression actually just stems from the age-old uneasiness attached to change.

“When I conducted some research with Millennials I found that flexible working was vital for any modern employee, with 91% saying flexible working was important” (1)

Below, I have compiled a few of the deepest apprehensions your employer may be having about letting their employees work at co-working spaces.

Seems like there’s more networking going on than working, what can you say about that?

To be fair, over the last few weeks at TwoSpace, I have networked. I’ve shook hands writers, personal trainers, chefs, developers, and even some head cheeses at the Optus Yes Labs. Those interactions happen between projects I am working on or when I get up for a glass of (free and amazing) sparkling water at the Casoni bar.

I have found that by being exposed to people in different industries daily, and in such a casual space, the amount of idea sharing that goes on more than pays for the time lost talking.

To exemplify this point I’ll tell you a short story: Part of my job is composing weekly blogs/articles intended to spark interest in our client’s sector and ultimately drive more traffic to the client’s webpage. I have been brutally packing keywords and sharing the articles on social media to try to grab some of the right attention from possible customers. On Tuesday this week, I got to talking with a writer who is currently in the process of launching a series of articles about particularly compelling conversations he’s had with Uber drivers. He read one of my articles for me, gave me some constructive criticism, and most importantly told me about Taboola and OutBrain; two services that essentially place blogs/articles in front of readers who are reading similar content.

That 15 minute chat left me with another perspective on my writing and two ideas for tools to gain more exposure for my client.

Every HR rep would like to think that they built the most skilled and inclusive team, but an outside opinion is invaluable–even just as food for thought.

Ok, but what about socialising?

Although this medieval-minded co-working space seems to think otherwise, co-working spaces are for working. I feel like I’m part of a mini community at TwoSpace, and that’s one reason I keep coming back. But that community doesn’t really have a social focus. Instead, it is built up of like-minded individuals all motivated toward accomplishing something, whatever that may be for each individual.

I don’t go there to chat, I go there for a dose of osmosis motivation.

If that’s all true, then why is there is ping-pong table?

Ok, some co-working spaces do have ping pong tables, but others don’t. It is hard for an employer to rationalise paying a worker when they can’t keep an eye on them from across the office…especially when they hear a ping pong table exists to entice the employee at their employee’s co-working space.

One of Sydney’s large co-working spaces has a ping-pong table, lounge area, a mini sailing ship, and decorative flags around the space to make things “fun.” Employers get scared because they don’t want to be paying for fun. The fact that TwoSpace lacks these flairs is one of the main reasons I enjoy working from there. What makes co-working “fun” is not decorative flags, but getting to focus on your work in a creative and collaborative atmosphere.

Maybe this is just me, but I am stoked to put my head down and bang-out an article. It’s fun to get the creative juices flowing. Unfortunately, I’ve had a hard time getting in that mindset at the office. Maybe because the air con is the only thing making any noise. The study “Is Noise Always Bad?” offers to the creatives a conclusion they already know, and to employers one they should take to heart: a moderate amount of noise (between 50-70 decibels) causes the brain to think more abstractly and creatively. If you have ever wondered why you seem to work better from a cafe, then a co-working space might be for you.

Fun fact: The effect of increased, but not extreme, noise is the same science behind why stores play music– it actually “increases the buying likelihood of innovative products.”

The traditional work week isn’t working.

We have all heard about Netflix and how they give their employees unlimited vacation days, but more and more companies are changing on a smaller scale. Blue Chilli, an Australian startup incubator, offers job applicants the prospect of working for a company where you can bring your dog to work, work from home, and even a day off every year that they can spend doing anything awesome. Blue Chilli says that the work-life balance is crucial to them, and that by giving workers flexibility, they ensure that all employees bring “their best selves to work.”

But, If you dont have set hours, are you ever really off the clock?

There is concern around whether having flexible hours means more work-life balance, or just a more muddied version of the two combined. Part of the idea behind co-working spaces and working from home is that real life doesn’t pause between 9am and 5pm (that is literally a fact). Things come up in each of our personal lives during business hours. Giving employees the flexibility to work from home/co-working spaces or ability to augment their hours means an employer acknowledges the realities of their employee’s private lives.

“For all the benefits that flexible working brings and the new ways of working offered by technology, none of it can happen without trust” (1)

If you are an employee like me, looking to work from a co-working space or even from home, one fact remains: you and your employer have to be on the same page. It was worth it, although a bit intimidating, to sit down with my employer and tell them I needed to have the option to work away from the office so I could get a new perspective by doing my work in the company of like-minded creatives.

Challenge your employer to shift their perspective from “presence focused to results focused.” (2)

Sources:

(1) If you can’t trust your employees to work flexibly, why hire them in the first place?

(2) Make Remote Work Work: 9 Ways To Succeed & 5 Myths Debunked

Mild Ambient Noise Can Spur Creativity and Keep You Motivated

Understanding The Mindset Of Professional Millennial Employees

5 Myths about Remote Work, Debunked

 

LuRay’s original post was here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-my-employer-lets-me-work-from-anywhere-luray-joy

 

LuRay Joy
LuRay Joy
Freelance Marketer & TwoSpace member

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