The way we work is changing — fast. Where we work, who we work with and how we get work done is all evolving. On this week’s episode we talk to Sarah Travers, CEO of the co-working space Workbar, and to one head of recruiting who thinks remote working and co-working aren’t going anywhere.
Travers is a longtime co-working evangelist. She has spent her entire career selling the idea of co-working, first at IWG (Regus), a global provider of flexible workspace solutions. She joined Workbar in late 2017. She has the unique perspective of witnessing the industry’s explosive growth — as both a seasoned veteran of the world’s largest shared office giant and as the CEO of Boston’s original co-working space.
She shares her thoughts on where the industry is headed and why co-working is so much more than either a physical space or the popular image of a collection of young digital nomads working on computers in a shared space.
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Travers says co-working is often defined as a group of individuals working together in a shared communal setting, which evokes the idea of a young digital workers in an open room focusing on their own tasks — a concept she says “couldn’t be further from the truth.” Rather, she says, users often find the co-working atmosphere inspiring and valuable because it offers the opportunity to make connections and work beside people from all different types of businesses and companies.
She says co-working users are also drawn to businesses development opportunities through classes, event programming and networking at new member lunches or happy hours. “There are just a lot of ways to grow your own personal and professional network in this space,” she says. “It just goes beyond that sort of original idea of a bunch of millennials sitting with headphones typing away in one big room.”
Changing Demographics and Needs
Travers says her company’s research clearly debunks the idea that co-working spaces are just for millennials or people in technology. She says Workbar members cut across a number of industries and have an average age of 38 or 39. They are also increasingly employees of large organizations.
“I think that you also hear that only individuals and small teams use co-working space,” she says. “We have seen that Fortune 500 companies often use co-working for not just for remote employees but also for groups as a way to sort of drive innovation outside of a traditional headquarters.”
What’s Driving Growth
Travers says co-working is clearly no longer thought of as just a short-term trend or a solution for people who don’t want to work from their kitchen table or in a coffee shop. She says one factor driving the increasing popularity of co-working spaces is a cultural shift away from merely clocking in and out of work and toward getting more satisfaction and meaning from our jobs.
“There’s a real value proposition behind it that’s been embraced by a larger audience as some of the big players in the industry both on the landlord and the tenant side,” she says. “The landlords have awareness that they need to evolve their offerings more to meet the changing environments. On the flip side, the tenants are more focused on the need to enjoy the experience of the office environment.”
Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- HR tech news: Fast Company article on the decline of retail and on Office Depot moonlighting as a co-working space.
- Sarah Travers, CEO of WorkBar, on LinkedIn.
- Esakki Subramanian, vice president & global head of talent acquisition at Virtusa, on LinkedIn.
Let’s continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific, or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.