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Coworking promises to boost your creativity, offers valuable networking opportunities, and increases your productivity – but could there be some hidden health benefits as well?
It would appear so. Coworking brings individuals and businesses together in an environment like no other, resulting in a positive effect on both your physical and mental well being. In fact 70% of coworkers claim to feel healthier working in this way when compared to the conditions of working in a traditional office environment, and 60% are more relaxed at home since they have started coworking.
It makes sense. The standard 9-5 workweek is counterproductive to good health. This type of sedentary existence is, in fact, killing us. Could coworking unlock a range of health benefits that typical office or home working environments simply cannot offer? Several scientific studies suggest it certainly can.
Coworking provides individuals and businesses with the opportunity to interact with other coworkers and create strong professional and personal partnerships. Social relationships are key to good health, according to a study by PLoS Medicine.
“Quite remarkably, the degree of mortality risk associated with lack of social relationships is similar to that which exists for more widely publicized risk factors, such as smoking.”
Claiming a lack of social interaction is as dangerous as smoking does seem a little far fetched, but it is still a core principle to ensure continued good mental health with 90% of coworkers claiming to feel more confident when working in this way.
Professor Clay Spinuzzi, from the University of Texas, completed a 20-month survey across nine Austin-based coworking spots to investigate the benefits and services such spaces provide. According to Spinuzzi:
“Many of the coworkers I interviewed emphasized mental and emotional health. One, in particular, said that when she tried to work from home, she got severely depressed and had a hard time working. Others had less severe experiences, but did report feeling disconnected from people when they worked from home; coworking lifted their mood simply because they could talk to people, and it gave them a greater sense of emotional security because they had built friendly relations with other coworkers.”
Coworking is also the perfect environment to foster relationships, compared with coffee shops and similar offerings, as Perttu Salovaara, adjunct assistant professor at the Stern School of Business, New York University, said:
“Simply put, human connection, other people around to talk to, is something that drives people to coworking. Home, cafés or an occasional few words with a fruit seller do not suffice.”
The adaptable nature of coworking and other flexible working initiatives also has a positive effect on your mental health, research reveals. How? Well, it all comes down to choice. If you are able to have more control over your work – the projects you take on and the contract length, for example – the more likely you are to see positive health outcomes.
Many coworking spaces offer health conscious benefits such as gym memberships, free fruit, yoga classes and other options to members. At NYC-based coworking space The Farm SoHo, for example, they’ve actively started hosting fitness classes on a weekly basis ranging from Zumba to yoga to meditation and are also taking steps to give members access to organic/local food from farms at reasonable prices. Some coworking spots are taking things one step further and putting health and wellness at the forefront of their offerings, such as the recently opened Primary NYC space.
Coworking spaces have an increasing responsibility to improve the health of their communities according to Sancar Ayalp, marketing manager at The Farm SoHo.
“Coworking spaces will grow to eventually become central to businesses and individuals all around the world, so the responsibility of coworking spaces will grow with their ubiquitousness. Health is the first and foremost front where this needs to happen since it has direct correlation with employee productivity on a business level and happiness on a more personal level.”
Kia Rahmani, ShareDesk’s CEO, considers fitness to be an essential part of his own routine.
“I make time for yoga and hitting the gym at least a few days every week. I find it really helps center me, clear my head, and allows me to unwind at the end of a workday. Sometimes when I’ve physically left the office I find my mind is still stuck on work. Exercise helps keep me grounded, and offers me balance and headspace. I encourage my team to do the same.”
The health benefits of coworking are clear to see and come down to the one key feature: interaction. Coworking encourages relationships with others and group activities. From conversations to kickboxing classes, coworking is good for your health, as it stimulates both the body and the mind to give its communities a much-needed boost.
About the author
Gemma Church is “the freelance writer who gets tech,” a writer for the NYC-based coworking space The Farm SoHo and specialist blogger, journalist, and copywriter for the science and technology sectors. Find more of Gemma’s writing on her website and follow her on twitter @geditorial_uk