But you might not think shared spaces in Nairobi, such as Nairobi Garage, would be so people-focused. You’d be wrong.
In fact, major corporations are taking their cues from coworking spaces to reverse engineer what it is about coworking facilities that bring to the table what traditional offices cannot.
Globally, some companies, such as Microsoft, Salesforce, Starbucks, and Bank of America, are outright joining the ranks of entrepreneurs taking the most advantage of coworking space. Why? It gives employees a sense of identity that doesn’t interfere with their sense of belonging to the organization.
Locally, companies like Carlsberg, Liquid Telecom, Mastercard Foundation, Africa Logistics Properties, LC Waikiki, SWVL, Glovo and many others are taking their cue to join coworking spaces like Nairobi Garage. Great businesses have also recorded spectacular success stories of early-stage startups growing to be multi-billion-dollar companies from coworking spaces like Uber, Spotify and many others.
While coworking spaces offer the amenities of an office–wireless networking, office equipment like phones and printers, and conference space–they also offer a sense of purpose for all workers.
It is obvious that there are myriad advantages that come with taking up spaces in coworking; for small, remote teams, this legitimizes their position within company ranks and keeps them together as a team. For the companies who employ them, they’re saving on the cost of long-term rental agreements and ownership of properties while still providing their outpost workers somewhere to do the job well.
We talked to a couple of ‘bosses’ in our space and they shared their experiences and reasons why they opted to move into coworking spaces.
Coworking spaces offer businesses an office they may not otherwise be able to afford, networking opportunities, and a business base more professional than the coffee shop down the street or even the home office. But that’s not all they offer, and as such, large corporations are taking notice.
“Setting up an office can be quite hectic, from furniture to fees that come attached to the rent, these can be quite tasking. But at Nairobi Garage it took me about two days to set up and the fact that they also allow us time to just walk in and concentrate on our core work as they handle other things for us is a plus,” said Victor Mutunga, Founder Zuka World.
Many coworking spaces are situated in areas that are quite easy to access for both the employees and clients. These areas are prime areas for businesses to flourish, however renting a traditional office could be quite expensive. In the case of Nairobi getting a nice office in areas such as Kilimani and Westlands is too expensive however with our coworking space situated here, it becomes quite convenient and accessible to all our clients and also gives our members the freedom to work from any location that is ideal for them.
“The second thing is accessibility. The Kilimani Space is quite accessible for our customers and anyone who comes to all parts of the city. One can easily get here from Upperhill, Westlands and even Mombasa Road and the community is amazing, you get to meet and network with different people in the space. Also, our fellows love the ambiance.”
On the other hand, another member of our community said that the convenience of our locations and the fresh tech-style office setting drove them to move his team to a coworking space. The availability of the meeting rooms that are fully equipped with conferencing facilities has often been helpful for them to have Zoom video calls without interruption with other colleagues in other countries, something that would have been next to impossible or extremely expensive if they opted to have own privately owned offices.
The beauty of coworking facilities is that while there’s an opportunity for socialization, it isn’t forced. Not to mention networking for varying companies working under the same roof in complimentary industries makes for a well-rounded work environment and culture.
For companies like Fuzu, with an employee base of 23 people, one major reason as to why they enjoy working from our space was the networking and the community aspect that made it a fun environment to work in. The coworking space offered a feel-good atmosphere thus offering the ability to interact with other companies in space and share challenges makes.
Employees given the chance to determine their personal level of interaction, and with the opportunity to forge business relationships with people in related fields of work, experience the best of both worlds: a sense of belonging and of bringing good relationships to their working lives and their companies.
Working around like-minded individuals can spark creativity and innovation in ways that just aren’t possible at home, with only the walls or the cat to brainstorm with.
Some of our members also talked about the flexibility that comes with taking up a coworking space for their employees. Most coworking spaces are typically 24/7 accessible, giving members much more control over their workday and hours.
If long hours are necessary under a deadline crunch, employees can stay as long as they need to get the job done. Through these ways, employees feel most trusted by their employers, but of course, too much of it can cripple productivity.
Coworking facilities provide the structure many entrepreneurs and business owners need to maintain the discipline working from home doesn’t give.
A number of our members also told us that coworking had helped them shape their work culture not from the perspective that they don’t feel the coworking space overshadows their sense of belonging to the company for which they actually work but for the overall idea that their work has enough meaning to invest in the membership for them while providing them with the autonomy, trust, and creative tools required for them to do their jobs and do them well.
“It’s a sense of purpose without the constraints of long-term leasing and design restraints that come with traditional offices. And that is enough to give workers an identity while helping them soar as individuals,” said one member.
Coworking and shared space have proven to help employees thrive due to the highly collaborative environment that this type of space offers.
Coworking can help establish a community, spark new ideas, encourage healthier living and give employees a greater sense of control, thus increasing their productivity. According to global stats Global Coworking Unconference Conference, by 2022 there will be more than 30,000 coworking spaces and 5 million people utilizing coworking spaces. The future is coworking!
Given the benefits of utilizing Flex Space and Coworking models should your company be considering utilizing one?