From its technology-sector beginnings in 2005, coworking has morphed into a global phenomenon with more than 1,100 facilities worldwide. That number that has doubled annually for the past five years, according to a recent survey from deskmag. (Coworking Survey Booklet) Could coworking be the green wave of the future?
Simply put, coworking is a gathering spot for individual entrepreneurs or employees from multiple companies sharing a common work space. Coworking works in a variety of ways with facilities offering a personal desk or workstation for a few hundred dollars a month. Not only do you get a place to sit, but also a range of business services and equipment at your disposal, including fax machines, photocopiers, printers, and wi-fi Internet access. In addition, many coworking facilities provide free coffee and snacks, lectures and workshops, and group activities. Some have conference rooms available, phone and receptionist service, mail delivery, and other amenities more typical of an office suite.
Although coworking and remote office centers are springing up in answer to a need for a bridge between traditional office locations and telecommuting, they also offer a unique option for those concerned about their employment carbon footprints.
Our business sustainability consulting suggests evaluating coworking facilities by asking the following questions.
- Is the coworking facility available in local neighborhoods? As in, does it reduce employee commutes?
- Is public transportation, walking, biking to the center available?
- Does heating and cooling the coworking space cost less than heating and cooling the individual home offices?
- Which eco actions is the facility taking to integrate sustainability and eco awareness in the facility? As in, improved indoor air quality, energy efficiency, recycling programs and waste management.
- Does the remote office center provide equipment you would need to personally purchase if you were telecommuting from home?
- How much money and energy do you spend to run your home office on a monthly basis? Is this amount more or less than the money and energy that would be required to commute to a coworking office?
- Identify success metrics: workplace decisions should clearly connect to productivity and business outcomes.