Flexible workspaces are quite a hit with small business owners, and it’s not hard to see why.
By helping to foster and support innovation in your small business, your employees could become more creative and productive than ever before.
That means exposing employees to people and ideas from outside their own business.
Creativity and collaboration can breathe new life into a company and reinvigorate employees. Sharing new ideas and knowledge lets others see things from different perspectives, spurs their own work in new directions, and moves the organisation forward. There are huge benefits to be gained for SMEs who choose to make flexible workspaces their permanent base.
This article will explore one of the biggest benefits: fostering a more creative and collaborative culture.
The role of technology
Technology will make collaboration your next competitive advantage. New tools are changing the way people work with each other, their companies’ partners and their customers. Today’s workers expect more – having grown up with rapidly changing technology, their expectations are higher and more open to new ways of working.
They know they can set up anywhere, and they also know that they can work smarter – in a way that suits their lifestyles. In a recent survey conducted by IWG, 18,000 business leaders from around the world gave their views and opinions on the future of work. The results fully concurred with the trends, with 91 per cent saying that flexible workspaces enable employees in their company to be more productive while on the move.
Entrepreneurs are driven – and they are not likely to follow a traditional, nine-to-five working model as they establish and grow their business. For them, the ability to work anywhere, at any time, can be a huge advantage – allowing them to remain productive while on the move.
A properly networked flexible workspace partner can ensure that entrepreneurs have access to high-quality office space no matter where they are in the country – or the world.
The same partner can help entrepreneurs to grow their business. Start-up businesses can be small, and successful business owners keep a very close eye on expenditure. But for many, it is also hugely important to project an image about your brand and business that is going to excite and impress potential partners or customers.
Flexible workspace providers can ensure that, not only can you travel to where your potential client is, but you can be assured that when you get there you can bring them to an office which is modern, friendly and impressive. They can also provide top of the range IT and Wi-Fi, friendly and professional support staff, and all of the catering and other requirements that you need to seal a deal and impress a partner.
More than just flexibility
But it’s more than this. It’s not simply about working on the move – there are huge benefits to be gained for entrepreneurs who make their permanent base in a flexible workspace.
One of the most important of these is the collaborative culture that we foster. For small businesses, establishing a strong business network is vital for future development. Co-working spaces, where SMEs can rub shoulders with large corporates and exciting start-ups across multiple disciplines can kick-start this process from day one. We have seen partners start to work together, sometimes following a simple conversation over coffee.
From sharing workspaces, we have seen the development of inspirational workspace communities, where networking reigns supreme.
Encouraging the employees to think outside of the box and giving them time and resources to explore new areas for innovative ideas is the key to cost-effective business solutions. Creativity improves the process of solving problems. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about developing a new strategy or an innovative way to stay ahead of the competition.
“From sharing workspaces, we have seen the development of inspirational workspace communities, where networking reigns supreme”
Organisations today operate in a highly competitive, global environment, making creativity crucial. Creativity is what fuels big ideas, challenges employees’ way of thinking, and opens the door to new business opportunities. Creative problem solving gives that competitive edge that any business is striving to achieve.
Richard Morris is the UK CEO of IWG.
How flexible workspaces have benefited our businesses
Here are a couple of businesses who can vouch for flexible workspaces. They explain how they work for them.
Roger Barr, co-founder of digital agency, Mediablaze
Roger says that being in a flexible workspace has opened up possibilities to work with others that wouldn’t have otherwise existed.
Our recent move into a flexible workspace has improved opportunities for creative collaboration with other organisations located in the same building. Often, flexible offices encourage interactions between tenants and provide networking opportunities.
This can not only result in new business opportunities but also spark ideas that may not have been previously considered.
These offices are also aesthetically designed to cater to different tasks: whether needing to focus in a quiet space, brainstorm in a more comfortable setting, or meet with clients in a private room. The agile environment means that external clients can work from the office when they like, leading to improved client relationships and collaboration.
What’s more, due to the flexible nature of project work undertaken at Mediablaze, the size of our workforce can fluctuate throughout the year. Our flexible workspace caters to this, and we can easily occupy more space if we need since there aren’t bounding contracts that restrict movement – something that’s often a feature of traditional offices.
Gerry Brennan, CEO of Cloudbooking
Using flexible working spaces has allowed Gerry’s employees to be more creative, inspired by different environments.
Cloudbooking was built on flexible working as one of our core business values. Our 21 employees are spread out across the UK, working remotely and using our co-working space in London for meetings and collaboration when required.
Having this level of flexibility has not only allowed us to be more creative and attract the best talent, but to put what we preach into practice – workplace experience needs to be flexible, intuitive, and built around people’s individual needs.
Creativity is sparked by being exposed to exciting stimuli from the environment. The flexible nature of our work – be it in a remote caravan in Scotland or in a busy co-working office in the capital – enables Cloudbooking employees to experience different working environments that encourage their creative flair. Our innovative workplace utilisation tools are a result of this creativity.