Julie Tucker
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Why Microsoft uses coworking spaces

If you thought massive global companies wouldn’t use coworking space, you’d be wrong. While at one time it seemed to attract more freelancers, small start-ups and entrepreneurs, the trend is changing.

Now, large multinational corporations, such as Microsoft, are realising the advantages of putting their workers in a coworking environment.

With revenue of $143 billion in 2020, Microsoft is ditching formal offices in favour of the thriving community that coworking has created, joining the likes of IBM, Apple, Facebook and Samsung, to name but a few.

What does Microsoft feel the benefits are to the business?

The main benefits are getting more B2B sales through start-ups and entrepreneurs and giving employees access to fresh ideas. A lot of B2B services and products are targeted at start-ups – and one of the best ways to attract clients is to have conversations in person with potential leads.

Coworking is also a way for the big corporations to get on board with start-ups who have a lot of potential. People tend to show a lot more loyalty, after they make it big, towards anyone who was there in the early years.

The same goes for businesses, so while some large corporations may shun new start-ups, telling them to go back when they have more revenue, Microsoft has the opposite approach. They reach out while the start-ups are still small, in the belief this will give them an advantage, should they get massive at a future date.

Formal corporate offices have been described as making employees feel “disconnected”. Microsoft believes it has found a space where colleagues feel connected with each other, the brand and the community they are marketing to, enabling them to help build up a network.

Does Microsoft prefer coworking to home-working?

With the recent restrictions in going to the workplace due to Covid-19, many businesses across the world have permitted employees to work from home for safety reasons.

Now that people are starting to return to the workplace as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased, Microsoft bosses believe it’s better for employee wellbeing to be based at a coworking space, instead of in their own home. The logic behind this is that it’s hard to shift gears between your professional and personal life when there isn’t any physical separation between the two locations.

Working from home creates a blurred sense of reality, where your home merges into your workplace and leaves you feeling like there’s no dedicated space where you can relax. Being based in a coworking space creates the physical barrier between the office and home, giving people a better home/work balance.

A survey by Deskmag revealed 71% of people using coworking spaces felt more relaxed at home as a result. It improves their emotional wellbeing and also makes them more productive at work when they arrive at their co-working base feeling refreshed.

Almost three-quarters (74%) of employees reported increased productivity at work by keeping their home and work lives separate by joining a coworking community. A survey by McKinsey management consultancy found business executives had become five times more productive as a result.

Are other businesses following the coworking trend thanks to Microsoft?

Companies such as Microsoft are leading the way when it comes to multinationals joining coworking spaces, so it’s inevitable that other corporate giants are following suit.

The professional services network, KPMG, founded in Holland in 1987, boasted revenue of $29.75 billion in 2019, thanks to its network of firms providing financial audit, tax and advisory services in 147 countries. The company has made a decision to connect with startups and as a result, some of its employees in London and New York are being deployed to coworking spaces, rather than traditional offices.

KPMG bosses say being “on the ground” every day enables them to better understand how entrepreneurs work, getting a feeling for their issues and becoming a part of the coworking community – something you can never do from corporate headquarters.

According to KPMG, startups can grow very quickly these days and it’s counterproductive to tell people, “You’re not big enough for us to work with,” only to realise it’s too late a couple of years down the line when they’ve suddenly grown. Being there from the beginning is a common benefit that both Microsoft and KPMG have recognised.

Another major company that has decided to opt for coworking is the US mobile, eCommerce and web payment provider Braintree. The Chicago-based company was processing nearly $50 billion in authorised payments when it was acquired by PayPal, operating in 45 countries. Bosses at Braintree were “tired of the white walls” of corporate offices.

When looking for new office space for the company’s Asia Pacific branch, employee Tyson Hackwood reportedly felt “discouraged” by what was on offer and instead went for coworking spaces. They offered fresh ideas, enabling workers to get out of the “group-think” mode that can occur when they work with each other 9-5 every day and start thinking along the same lines, losing individual creativity.

The opportunities for corporate coworking are massive and increasing numbers of large companies are using coworking spaces to provide a better workplace experience for employees. For more information on coworking in the UK, contact Headspace Group on 0800 953 0585 – we’ve got just the location for you!


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