The sharing economy has nurtured a happier and more productive workforce

happy workforce

New research has shown that London co-workers are now happier and more productive than in their previous working lives.

The Office Group’s new report – following a survey of 1,156 of its members – which looks at how shared workspaces are changing London, exploring working patterns, relationships and the down-time of co-workers and small businesses operating in some of London’s largest modern shared workspaces.

Collaboration and community in the sharing economy

The UK has embraced the sharing economy, and co-working and shared workspaces have experienced rapid growth over the past few years, as collaboration and community have become a key element to the modern workplace.

The research found that more than half of workers choose to socialise with fellow members, while two thirds attended a TOG event last year. A collaborative culture has led to beneficial business relationships. Just under 32 per cent of TOG members work with, or alongside another member and the same number seek help or advice from those they work alongside in the same building. 38 per cent have worked with another member at some time. The modern workplace is multi-functional, now a place for both work and play, where businesses are no longer confined to individual offices and cubicles, but have the opportunity to network and socialise with others.

Flexible working

The report found that only 38 per cent of workers – which includes both freelancers, small businesses and large corporates – are tethered to their desks all day, while others make use of alternative spaces, such as cafés, lounges, focus booths and outside terraces.

Following this trend, increasingly, office tenants are signing up for space that will not fit all of their staff. So they might take an office for 10 staff even if they have 12, knowing that at least 2 will be working elsewhere in the building or offsite at any given time. Workers are splitting their time between different locations in London; 94 per cent of members worked from at least one other TOG building other than their “home” building in the quarter analysed.

The popularity of flexible working and shared workspaces can in part be attributed to the increase in self-employment. According to the latest ONS figures, there are now 4.8 million self-employed people in the UK – 15 per cent of all people in work – and this report revealed that 17.6 per cent of London’s workforce is self-employed, while those employed in a company are experiencing more individual empowerment, in particular those working for smaller businesses where there is less hierarchy.

Are shared workspaces and co-working the solution to the UK’s productivity puzzle?

Four fifths of London’s shared workspace community believe they are now more productive than in their previous working life – more than a quarter significantly so. In addition, TOG found that 80 per cent of workers are now happier than in their previous working life, with more than a fifth saying they could not be happier.

With the UK’s productivity gap at its worst levels since records began – falling significantly behind the G7 average – shared workspaces and co-working could be a solution to helping boost workers’ productivity. Research has shown that shared workspaces can support productivity by nurturing creative collaboration, facilitating networking and improving employees’ work-life balance. Meanwhile interesting buildings fosters stimulating work, with working spaces beginning to look like a boutique hotel or a private members club.

 A shorter working week

The structure of the working week is also changing. It is becoming shorter and more intense, and Londoners are increasingly clustering ‘face-time’ into three days in the middle of the week. Digital devices mean there is less need to turn up day in, day out, and workers appear to have chosen to schedule their meetings with colleagues and clients into a few days in the middle of the week.

The report found that Tuesday is the busiest day of the working week; Tuesday entries into TOG buildings are 4 per cent higher than on a Wednesday, and respectively 14 per cent and 21 per cent ahead of Monday and Friday, while Friday is the quietest day of the working week.

People are incorporating leisure activities into their working day; almost a third of workers take advantage of additional TOG services every week – such as the gym or café, as well as events – with one in ten claiming daily use.

Olly Olsen, Co-CEO at TOG, commented: “Over the past few years, there has been a generational shift in the way in which we work. Millennials, which now account for around 35% of the UK’s workforce, are reshaping the workplace. This younger generation has a more flexible approach to the working day – they might turn up “late”, coffee in hand, but will usually stay late, and they won’t necessarily work from their desks all day.

“Wellness has moved up the agenda. The health and happiness of employees is now a top priority, as employers recognise the knock-on effect this has on productivity and attracting and retaining talent. Providing facilities in a building that can make it easier to achieve this wellbeing is now a fundamental, whether that’s a cafe with healthy, nutritious food, an on-site gym or proper bike storage facilities with good showers. We believe we are setting a new working paradigm for tomorrow’s corporations.”