Coworking spaces and Millennials are changing the landscape of the traditional office at a rapid pace. Traditionally, “the office” has meant a designated business space in which employees of the same company come together between 9 and 5, to work together Monday through Friday. However, remote work spaces are becoming more and more the norm.
As this is being written, the traditional workplace is being disrupted thanks to the Millennial workforce. Millennials, classified as the generation born between 1982 and 2004, have been changing the way the workplace exists since they entered the workforce, around the year 2000. Mainly, they have altered the way in which “the office” is perceived. In part, this is due to the availability of internet and technological resources.
According to Allied Telecom, a boom took place between 2009 and 2015 in telecommuting, not coincidentally when Millennials were hitting their stride. This telecommuting/working from home boom meant that workers needed to change the way in which they completed work. Shifting from the traditional desk job and supervision, telecommuters could complete tasks from their own couch. However, the home comes with distractions that traditional workplaces wouldn’t have. The home also comes with a distinct lack of social connectivity that may be for some, difficult to overcome.
With advancements in technology and changing definitions, working from home has started to be defined more as “working remotely.” Working from home and working remotely aren’t mutually exclusive ideas because of the availability of out-of-home alternatives. According to NewWorker.co, as of November 10, 2017 there were 175 coworking spaces available in New York City. A Google search for “coworking spaces Chicago” yielded 110 results. Even in communities as small as Harbor Springs, Michigan (population 1,206 [Census Bureau]), these new workspaces are becoming available.
According to Harbor Springs’ The Loft Coworking Space web page, these spaces help to provide “high-speed internet, a friendly, open space to network … places to telework,” including non-traditional desks. Ultimately, these locations allow a place for the worker to concentrate, conduct meetings, and complete work without the complications of working from home. These spaces are especially of interest to entrepreneurs who need the question of “where to conduct business?” answered.
Impact on the House Hunt
Because working from home doesn’t have to mean actually “working from home,” the housing market demands are changing. Whereas before a buyer may have prioritized living in a larger city to gain greater employment opportunities, this isn’t necessarily the case now. Millennials can have satisfaction in where they live, including smaller communities, while taking advantage of resources through coworking spaces. Entrepreneurs and remote workers are gaining a more even playing field with those that are located in those larger cities with multitudes of resources. As it often can feel like a sacrifice to choose to live in a small/rural community, these new workspaces allow for the best of both worlds.
Communities that are catching on to the draw of these unique spaces are really setting themselves up to be in a position of advantage for attracting young, working families with disposable incomes. These areas could attract well-educated people that would benefit their communities in countless ways. One such community that is catching on and setting the goal of attracting new residents is the City of Harbor Springs, Michigan.
Harbor Springs is a beautiful small community, straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, located on the shores of Lake Michigan. This is an area where you’ll commonly hear “a view of the bay is worth half your pay.” But thanks to coworking spaces, sacrificing pay for lifestyle doesn’t have to be the case any longer. As the ability for remote work grows, so does the potential for income, without sacrificing the quaint, small town, lifestyle.
Matt Mikus, of the Petoskey News Review, interviewed Rachel Smolinski and Bill Mulder of HARBOR Inc., a nonprofit that spearheaded the effort to bring a coworking space to Harbor Springs. Regarding the need for such a space in the small city of Harbor Springs, Rachel really wanted to highlight that “everyone needs great connectivity to do their jobs.” In rural, Northern Michigan, connectivity isn’t always a possibility. Without the ability to remote work from a Wi-Fi connection, the available workforce is pushed toward more traditional types of employment, limiting access to higher paying jobs and potential career advancements. Thanks to the new efforts for a coworking space in Harbor Springs, however, the young people in the Northern Michigan region can work to their fuller potential.
Communities See Benefits
Another benefit of the coworking space, highlighted in Matt, Rachel, and Bill’s discussion, was the mutually beneficial relationship between communities with coworking spaces and the employees. “There are a lot of opportunities with being downtown. What if you come in to work? We’ll have some good coffee at the loft, but what if you want to get some espresso across the street. Maybe you decide to go to a movie after work, do a little shopping. And you have to get lunch while you’re there. We think this is a huge opportunity to bring our remote office, home office workers into town. It can be really good for a downtown economy.” Not only can these spaces be good for the economy, but also good for the worker. As the worker is able to get out of the home and get work done, the worker can also socialize and reduce the feelings of isolation that a home office can bring.