How Coworking Can Boost Your Health
Coworking promises to boost your creativity, offers valuable networking opportunities and increases your productivity - but could there be some hidden health benefits to boot?
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. 70% of coworkers claim to feel healthier working in this way, as opposed to residing in a traditional office environment, and 60% are more relaxed at home since they have started coworking, research reveals.
It makes sense. The standard 9-5 working week is counterproductive to good health and such a 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 would suggest so.
Coworking = Longer Life?
Coworking provides individuals and businesses with the opportunity to interact with other residents and create strong professional and personal partnerships. Social relationships are key to good health, according to a study by PLoS Medicine, which said: “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. He said: “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 contract length, for example, you are more likely to see positive health outcomes.
The Coworking Workout
Many spots 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 as Sancar Ayalp, marketing manager at The Farm SoHo, said: “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.”
The crossover between exercise classes, for example, and improved productivity are clear, and also offer further mental health and business benefits to coworkers according to Ansel Liu, founder and MD of Nomad, a web platform and iOS app that helps people find coworking spaces, who explained: “When you work from a coworking space, once you’re focused, you might not get a chance to meet the people in the space. When you have a class or an event to bring people together, like a healthy breakfast or a pilates session, it creates the perfect situation to make new business connections and friends. It sounds oxymoronic but it’s a bit of ‘organised serendipity’. ”
The health benefits of coworking are clear to see and come down to the one key feature: interaction. Coworking encourages interaction, from conversations to kickboxing classes, they stimulate both the body and the mind to give their communities a much-needed boost both from a mental and physical health perspective.