How organisations can address employee wellbeing and attract new talent by adopting co-working spaces

Erin Eatough

In this guest article, Erin Eatough, Lead Behavioural Scientist at BetterUp, explains how co-working spaces can help organisations address employee wellbeing and attract new talent.

The way organisations work has changed, and British workers have had to adapt.

Flexible working has its benefits. Research from PwC found that the majority of business leaders reported that their organisation performed better against workforce performance and productivity targets during remote/hybrid working.

As a result, hybrid work is becoming the new normal. According to Microsoft, 38% of Brits are now working flexibly, while 53% are likely to consider transitioning to hybrid in the year ahead.

But these new ways of working are not without their challenges. BetterUp research shows that hybrid working can have a disproportionate impact on employee wellbeing. The constant changes to working structure in the past two years have destabilised our concept of the workplace and team unity, leaving some workers feeling lost.

BetterUp Labs research has found that 93% of UK workers are concerned about isolation and their mental health when working from home.

Employers will need to think outside of the box to address this issue.

The new workplace

One way to ease these concerns of isolation from home working is adopting the use of co-working spaces.

Co-working spaces are offices where workers from the same or different organisations can still enjoy the benefits of home working, such as more flexible working hours, increased work-life balance, and a homely atmosphere, while also enjoying the social aspects of an office environment.

While remote working has shown everyone the value of autonomy, many are realising there is equal value in some form of structure to their professional lives. Co-working spaces can offer the perfect balance of both.

Giving employees access to some community in these spaces can help to diminish these feelings of loneliness, thus, reducing the negative impact on their mental wellbeing. Having some social interaction during the workday can help reduce stress levels, allowing employers to take a break to chat or grab a coffee with their desk neighbour.

This connectivity can lead to an overall increase in job satisfaction.

Retaining and attracting top talent

Ensuring employees are content in their jobs should be a priority for employers. A recent study found that half of all UK workers may quit their job this year in a bid for better work-life balance.

Our research found that a sense of belonging is a top predictor of intent to stay. Providing a space where workers can meet can help mitigate feelings of isolation and foster a better sense of unity and community.

This can also prove to be a major asset in attracting top talent. In a new survey, 52% of UK recruiters said that it is essential to offer employees opportunities to work flexibly.

Co-working space to support flexible working options can boost a company’s offering and give them the edge over competitors when recruiting.

Understanding your workforce

Of course, when making any changes to work structures, it is important to take into account what employees want.

BetterUp research found that 68% of workers feel communication from employers is an issue when working from home. People need to feel their company is listening to their experiences and understanding pain points and areas for improvement.

Fostering a sense of safe, open communication within teams is critical, and can be the key for connection and belonging. Studies show employers who receive this type of communication not only feel more strongly connected to their immediate team (by 32%) but also feel a greater sense of belonging to their organisation (by 15%).

Additionally, managers may need organisational support and professional coaching to develop the skills necessary to successfully lead their workforce in this new era of hybrid work. They need to hone hybrid management skills and guide their teams into effective remote work practices.

Establishing clear lines of communication and offering an array of working options that support every employee is key. Every individual has a different background, with unique experiences and priorities.

Employers must act fast to ensure these feelings of loneliness are addressed – or risk low workplace morale and employee retention. Co-working spaces could be a viable option to consider when increasing a sense of day-to-day community for your workforce.