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Five lessons from coworking culture – How to attract and keep talent

How to make your workspace cooler, more collaborative and productive


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For almost every Colorado business, there’s an ongoing battle being waged – the fight to attract, retain and engage top talent. Our thriving economy and competitive job market means that the most desirable candidates have their pick of the professional litter. And while many are still making decisions based on pay and benefits, an increasing number of prospective employees – particularly millennials – are looking beyond compensation package to consider the workplace culture as a whole.

When these questions aren’t sufficiently addressed, candidates may turn away from a great opportunity – and employees may decide to move on to greener pastures. If your work environment is struggling in some of these areas, I can offer some counsel. For years, collaborative workspaces in Colorado have been curated and nurtured, becoming sought after – coworking locations that marry productivity, socialization, design and environmental stewardship. At Shift Workspaces, the benefits of building a balanced, collaborative and appealing work environment are witnessed firsthand.

People are more efficient, more productive and generally much happier overall.

Here are a few simple ways to borrow from coworking culture and improve your space:


  1. Create Opportunities to Connect – First and foremost, employees want the chance to meaningfully interact with each other. Take a look at your existing space and culture, and identify new possibilities for facilitating socialization, team building and genuine relationships among your teams. This could include bringing in a yoga teacher once a week, a bi-weekly happy hour in your open spaces, or a mentorship program where young professionals can seek advice from more experienced team members.
  2. Aesthetics Matter – Though not every organization has the resources to completely remodel or redesign their space, all organizations can revisit their environment in order to create a more unique and inviting atmosphere. Start with gathering employee feedback and ideas to make your space more creative and collaborative. Then, perhaps add a casual seating area, an outdoor workspace or showcase some local artwork throughout the space. Create personality by choosing brighter paint colors, adding plants and flowers, and encouraging team members to bring in more photos and things they value from home. The key here is that you want your team to bring more of themselves into your space.
  3. Be More Socially Responsible – Environmental stewardship and corporate social responsibility are quickly becoming leading priorities for young employees. Many only want to work for employers that are using business as a force for good. The more you’re able to do in this arena – and the better you promote and speak about it – the more attractive you’ll be as a potential employer. Consider becoming a member of B Corp, performing an energy audit in your space, investing in a compost service, or implementing a quarterly environmental volunteer day for your employees.
  4. Embrace Flexibility – Life is unpredictable, and employees want to feel that their employers are understanding and supportive of that fact. Think about offering flexible work arrangements and schedules, including allowing weeknight and weekend work time, so that your team feels empowered to structure their own schedules as needed. Be more generous with work-from-home days, working remotely and occasionally invite employees to work together from new spaces (i.e. coffee shops, local coworking facilities, restaurants, etc.)
  5. Aim to Surprise and Delight – Know what’s happening in your employees lives and surprise team members when they are celebrating big life events. Champagne for anniversaries, yoga retreats for high performing managers, or maybe a gift certificate to REI for hard working employees getting ready for a camping trip. Beyond individual recognition, acknowledge your entire team by inviting in a massage therapist to offer chair massages, organize an employee ski day, or a mini-trip to somewhere warm. Rewarding your hard-working teams helps bring people together and instills happiness in your employees.

These initiatives are critical for recruiting and retaining talent. Today’s employees want more from their employers than a paycheck and benefits – they want to experience authentic connection with their team members, and they want to feel valued, appreciated and rewarded. They also want to feel positive about their company culture and the environmental aesthetics of their workplace. Cultivating these offerings will ensure that your candidates turn into employees, and that your employees stay engaged in a long-term, meaningful relationship with your company.  


PHOTO CREDIT: SHIFT WORKSPACES

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Grant Barnhill

Grant Barnhill is founder ad president of Shiftworkspaces, a shared workspace in Denver with locations in Cherry Creek and the Golden Triangle.

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