Coworking Supports Mental Wellness, But We Can Do More

Mental illness used to be talked about in hushed voices behind closed doors. It was stigmatized and relegated to fringe conversations. The alarming rise in mental health issues has brought the topic of mental health and overall wellness from the fringes into the mainstream. But we still have work to do around destigmatizing it.

Nearly one in five U.S. adults (44.7 million people) lives with a mental illness. Of those, an estimated 56% don’t receive treatment. People who suffer from mental health issues, including depression and anxiety, often try to manage alone.

CloudVO Blog Coworking and World Mental Health Day Working alone is isolating

Coworking and Wellness
The coworking movement, at large, is making remarkable strides in supporting wellness and connection. Shared workspaces around the world prioritize well-being for members, through fitness programs, on-site yoga, meditation rooms, nap pods, wellness challenges, work-life balance programming and more. Steve King from Emergent Research argues that reducing loneliness is the new value proposition of coworking.

Workplace Wellness Emerges as a Core Theme NextSpace Coworking San Jose Wednesday Walkabout
NextSpace Coworking San Jose members walk to a local lunch spot together each week during their Wednesday Walkabout.
Workplace Wellness Emerges as a Core Theme in Coworking Spaces Treadmill EcosystmSF
Treadmills in coworking spaces to promote wellness in the workplace 

Mental Wellness in Shared Workspaces
There’s a growing notion in our industry that coworking spaces should contribute to our well-being—not just give us a place to work. Coworking is already ahead of traditional workplaces when it comes to member happiness and well-being.

Surveys of coworking space members found that 83% of respondents are less lonely since joining a coworking space; 89% report that they are happier since joining a coworking space; and 79% said coworking has expanded their social networks.

CloudVO Blog Coworking and World Mental Health Day Expand Social Networks
CloudVO Blog World Mental Health Day Coworking Reduces Loneliness

The Power of the Global Workspace Network
We are, as an industry, working to dismantle loneliness, and the growing wellness trend is heartening. The global coworking network is uniquely positioned to respond to member needs. What would it look like if we put the power of our network behind addressing mental well-being? We could do something truly remarkable.

Angel Kwiatkowski, Cat Johnson, Iris Kavanagh - Exhibiting The Power Of Being Vulnerable In A Group | Women Who Cowork
Angel Kwiatkowski, Cat Johnson, Iris Kavanagh – Exhibiting The Power Of Being Vulnerable In A Group | Women Who Cowork

Moves are being made in that direction, with increased focus on wellness at industry conferences, breakout sessions, small industry events and in-space conversations. Space operators are taking mental health first-aid courses, the CheckYoMate movement reminds us to check in on one another, and there’s a growing awareness around destigmatizing mental illness in coworking spaces as part of our movement to dismantle loneliness. But we could be doing more.

World Mental Health Day
October 10 is World Mental Health Day. The objective for the day is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilize efforts in support of mental health.

As the website explains, World Mental Health Day “provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.”

CloudVO Blog World Mental Health Day Coworking Creates Collaboration

So let’s talk about it. How do you address mental health in your space? How could members of the global coworking movement better harness the power of our network to bring more mental wellness to coworking? What mental health resources would you like to see, both in your own space and from the global coworking community? Contact us and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

by Cat Johnson, storyteller and content strategist for the coworking movement.

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About CloudVO

CloudVO is the umbrella brand of Cloud Officing Corp., headquartered in San Francisco, California. CloudVO’s mission is to provide comprehensive virtual office, coworking and meeting room solutions to professionals under a Workplace-as-a-Service™ model. CloudVO operates the  CloudMeetingRooms.com  and  CloudVirtualOffice.com  e-commerce sites and grants preferential access to day offices, coworking space, and professional meeting rooms in 700 locations worldwide for distributed workers on a subscription or a pay-per-use basis.

The “new work” model

The CloudVO team recently sponsored and attended the 2018 Global Workspace Association (GWA) and NAIOP Flex Office Conference in Austin, Texas.

There were many fantastic presentations on the changing landscape of commercial real estate in this new Workspace-As-Service world.  However, Antony Slumbers, the keynote speaker was particularly impactful.

Flex Office Conference 2018 - Antony Slumbers

Mr. Slumbers laid out his view of the very real, and very rapid changes that are occurring in this latest revolution of work. He shared that the ‘old work’ model of structured, repeated and predictable work tasks will be automated and that 49% of all tasks our workforce currently does, falls under this model and will be automated. The future of work, “new work’ will include tasks that incorporate skills of design, imagination, inspiration, creation, empathy, intuition, innovation and collaboration’.  Our workspaces need to be available to make this new work workable…that is, be places that maximize the productivity of these ‘thought’ workers.

McKinsey quote from Antony Slumbers presentation at GWA Austin 2018

As approximately 70%+ of US workers work for companies with less than 500 people, this means that the corporate mega-headquarters (think of Facebook and Google campuses) are not an option for most workers. Flexible, workspace-as-a-service space need to be ready to cater to the needs of the ‘new workers’.  In fact, Mr. Slumbers tells us that currently 60% of large companies embrace the flexible workspace, outsourced model as an option for some of their space needs.

The trends for continued growth of this model are very favorable as is seen in explosion of sharing economy business models.  People no longer embrace ownership as in the past, they just want access, on their terms. In fact, the very motivation for businesses is not to own an office but to have a productive workforce. Ownership is only required to the extent it enhances the productivity of the employees.  This means, that for those of us operating in the shared services workspace industry…our job is not real estate, it isn’t even hospitality, it is something far more important and action-oriented – it is creating the place that enhances and allows the most productivity of our clients.

The ‘new work’ force actually makes the office more important, but creating the right experience to match the new skills and the new mindset is more complicated.  The success of our businesses will be decided upon which companies best create and curate space and services and are prepared to monitor, measure and shift, nearly on demand, to meet the needs of its clients.

This is exciting stuff, folks!

View Mr. Slumbers’ Keynote slide deck from the conference.


About CloudVO

CloudVO is the umbrella brand of Cloud Officing Corp., headquartered in San Francisco, California. CloudVO’s mission is to provide comprehensive virtual office, coworking and meeting room solutions to professionals under a Workplace-as-a-Service™ model. CloudVO operates the  CloudMeetingRooms.com  and  CloudVirtualOffice.com  e-commerce sites and grants preferential access to day offices, coworking space, and professional meeting rooms in 700 locations worldwide for distributed workers on a subscription or a pay-per-use basis.