This year, nearly every aspect of our lives has been impacted by COVID-19, from how we grocery shop, teach, learn, celebrate birthdays, get married, commute (or don’t commute), and say hello in formal settings (while at the same time discovering that it’s impossible to elbow bump and not smile—2020 is all about the silver linings). Perhaps no area of life was impacted more than how we work, and what seemed like a temporary, work-from-home setup in the corner of your bedroom (or on the couch) last spring now feels a little more, shall we say, lasting. If you find yourself a bit stir-crazy as 2020 steamrolls to an end and we approach shorter days and colder months, consider the benefits of co-working, which is not only beneficial for work-related areas like focus and productivity, but can also have a positive impact on your mental health and stress level. Read on for five reasons why co-working might be what you’re looking for.
1. Your work environment matters. Like, really matters.
In an article published on Adobe’s career blog, psychologist Christian Jarrett lays out the following key ingredients to create the perfect workspace, all of which are backed by research—and all of which you’ll find right here at ALX Community:
Color and light
Bright work environments have been found to be conducive to more analytical and evaluative thinking, while high ceilings are associated with feelings of freedom and more abstract thinking (our ceilings are pretty high).
Plants and windows
The positive impact of plants in an office environment goes beyond just having something pleasant to look at: not only do plants lower work stress, they also prevent mental fatigue and prolong attention span. And, when windows are abundant, the positive effects of greenery are further amplified—views of nature have been proven to spark creative thinking and recharge the mind, and those who sit near a window show greater interest in their work and are better at staying on task.As a bonus, ALX Community boasts prime views of the twinkling Potomac River, as well as a patio for when you don’t want to just look at nature, you want to be in it.
Rounded furniture (really)
When shown photos of environments filled with rounded furniture versus sharp or straight-edged furniture, study participants were more likely to find the rounded furniture more pleasing, inviting, and calming. We tend to agree. And couldn’t we all use a little more calm right now?
Ownership of your space
Being given total control of how to decorate and arrange an office to make it your own is not only empowering, it’s also been linked to improved productivity. ALX Community offers a slew of light-filled, private offices to make totally yours. Might we suggest throwing in some plants?One thing the author forgot to include? Dogs! ALX Community is proudly dog-friendly, the benefits of which go beyond unconditional love and sloppy kisses: It’s been proven that dogs in the workplace reduce stress in both the owner as well as other workers; improve performance and productivity; and increase social interaction among workers, leading to increased collaboration (socially-distanced, of course).
2. There are ample health benefits.
Working from home can be extremely isolating. Pandemic aside, the health benefits of co-working are substantial, particularly regarding its positive impact on mental health. If you find you’ve been missing weekly happy hours or casual kitchen banter, by joining a co-working space you’ll have countless opportunities to participate in community initiatives and social events, including in-house happy hours (one day—for now ours are over Zoom).
3. It’s a money-saver.
When you’re stuck working from home, it can get extra-tempting to head out to grab a coffee in order to break up the monotony of the day (what day is it again?). You might even get into the habit of going all in and setting up shop at Starbucks, only to stress every time you leave your laptop to use the bathroom and worry about background noise during conference calls. Besides these environmental stressors, you’re also stressing out your wallet. A day spent working at a coffee shop can easily cost $15 between a drink and a sandwich. Do this three times a week, and by month’s end, you’re approaching the $200 mark (which, incidentally, is the cost of a monthly Flex membership at ALX Community).Not only is free coffee a pretty universal perk of any co-working space (along with reliable and secure WiFi), at ALX Community, you also have access to private phone booths and conference rooms for taking calls and holding Zoom meetings—sans noisy Frappuccino blenders.
4. It’s good for establishing a routine.
Getting up at the same time every day and heading to a workspace other than your dining room table is beneficial for productivity as well as creativity. Having a routine also plays a critical role on mental health during uncertain and stressful times, particularly in managing stress and anxiety. And mental health benefits aside, one recent study found that a routine can help you feel more productive, more focused, and inspire you to take better care of your overall health.Whether establishing a routine means heading to your co-working space in the standard nine-to-five window of time, or showing up at 1 PM Monday-Wednesday-Friday in order to break up working from home, incorporating a routine is just as vital for your mental wellbeing as it is for meeting deadlines.
5. Networking has no last call.
Networking events typically involve a happy hour that you signed up for on Eventbrite with the pipe dream of landing your dream job. But now that making awkward small talk over the house Pinot Grigio is no longer an option, traditional networking events have essentially been canceled for the foreseeable future. With co-working, however, networking isn’t just relegated to 5-7 PM. Rather, every time you step into a co-working space, you enter into an environment brimming with individuals from a wide array of careers and backgrounds. That awkward small talk at the bar looks more like a meaningful conversation over lunch at the kitchen bar, where you can social distance and still increase the odds of walking away with a new lead, potential client, or valuable contact. In response to the heightened need for sanitization due to COVID-19, ALX Community has implemented extensive safety and wellness guidelines based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the Global Workspaces Association, collaboration with other co-working spaces, and member feedback.