The rapid rise of co-working may seem like a fashion move. But there are strong scientific reasons behind its rise in popularity.

FutureSpace, now in Bryanston


“It’s not just a fad, it’s a big global movement,” said Linda Trim, Director at FutureSpace. FutureSpace is a high-end ‘pro-working’ space joint venture between Investec Property and workplace specialists Giant Leap. They have opened their third office in Bryanston, such is the need from established companies, start-ups and independent consultants.


FutureSpace also has two existing offices in Katherine Street and Rivonia Road in Sandton.


Research stands in favour of co-working


Said Trim:” There is a surprisingly strong psychological basis for the growing popularity of shared workspaces. Co-working fulfils two basic human needs, flexibility and autonomy. And it does this without doing away with a meaningful community.” 

Trim mentioned a team from the University of Michigan ‘Steven M Ross School of Business’. They came to this conclusion after surveying workers from dozens of co-working spaces in the US.

“Interestingly, they found that while beautifully designed spaces with all offices amenities were important, they were less important than their social structures. Where workers feel a sense of individual autonomy that’s still linked to a sense of collaboration.”


Most co-working spaces, for all their idiosyncrasies, tend to strike that balance between those crucial needs. In ways that solo working and the traditional office experience usually can’t provide.


Co-working produces results


Trim added that the research also showed that independence, adaptability and flexibility were characteristics fundamental to human needs. “It isn’t surprising that they have been linked to positive outcomes in the workplace too, from improved performance to higher rates of employee commitment and engagement.”  


They also help explain why more companies are embracing flexible work schedules.


Michigan researchers found that while the sense of community and autonomy is important, it went further than that. People were free to be themselves. They didn’t feel that they were competing with their colleagues as they were in a typical corporate setting. As a result, ideas were more freely shared.


Said Trim: “Too much freedom can actually hurt productivity. Grafting a community structure onto an already flexible one provides the optimal degree of control”.


“Typically, people join co-working spaces because they want to be part of a community while still doing their own thing.”


Moving forward


“If more employers follow suit in the months and years ahead, they aren’t just jumping on a trendy bandwagon. They’re also trying to tap into the science that explains what makes people work well alone and together,” Trim concluded.