The new way of working post pandemic

#60: The new way of working post-pandemic with Axel Kuborn from Silversquare

During the pandemic, we have come through a new way of working. 

Productivity has risen in most companies since people worked from home, but the engagement towards company culture has decreased. Many organizations are now rethinking the way of working and organizing the workspace. 

And who better than Alex Kuborn to talk about coworking space, co-founder and co-CEO of Silversquare.

Who is Axel Kuborn?

Father to two children and proudly married, he is the co-founder and co-CEO of Silversquare, which is a leading co-working operator in Belgium and Luxembourg. He also founded a company that opens English boxing gyms throughout Belgium, to spread the sport and introduce more people to it.

Even if I love boxing, in this episode, we’re going to focus on Silversquare. It was co-founded in 2008 before the concept ‘coworking’ was invented. The digital age had already started for quite some time and Axel noticed that a lot of start-ups were rising, instead of the big companies growing. The idea they had was to take a professional office, furnish it in an appropriate way to create specific energy and environment where people can collaborate and interact – a place where the sum of the individuals together is greater than everybody apart.

The four drivers of co-working

Co-working has a lot of benefits and while talking with Axel, he gave me four distinctive drivers why people want to go to a co-working space.

1. Independent workforce

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I’m a big fan of empowerment and independence. Companies all over the world are shifting their way of working towards more empowerment. If you want to work on a project independently, a co-working space is an amazing place to do that!

2. Environment and mobility

More and more people are becoming preoccupied with their impact on the environment. That’s why a lot of people want to work closer to home. Co-working spaces are often located next to big train/bus stations, so they are easily accessible.

3. Digitalization

In a well-organized working space, you are able to stay connected with whom you want, whenever you want. The co-working space provides sufficient and stable internet to be able to connect yourself to your projects when you need to!

4. Innovation

When you are working in a co-working space, you are working in an open environment with dozens of other people in different sectors. Even though you won’t be working on the same projects, you might share a lot of creativity and ideas with each other. If you work in a closed environment, you might never get in touch with these other ideas that would’ve never popped into your mind.

The co-working space mentality in your organization

For the past two years, people have realized that the working paradigm has started to shift. Working productively is possible without everyone needing to be at the office from nine to five. People probably are going to be working a lot more from home. But like I’ve said before, this means that even though productivity is maintained, organization culture isn’t. So the question naturally rises:

How can organizations implement their culture, without forcing people to come to the office?

Well, the key is to make people want to come to the office. You need to give them a reason to come instead of staying home. Using the four drivers Axel gave us, organizations can start to think about how they can tackle that problem. One thing that makes coming to the office really useful, is getting together to innovate and brainstorm. It is a good place to get in touch with the product everyone works hard for. That is something that still can be quite hard through Zoom or Teams. Axel said the following about the future offices: 

“Offices will be transformed to be a place where you want to go because there’s something lovely about it because you meet people that you want to meet. And because you have specific innovation topics or reflections that you need to go about with the people that you work with, or with the people that are part of the organization. For that, you need to be in a specific environment.”

In other words, the office should be a place you want to go to, because you would find a lot of added value there, albeit through interaction with co-workers, independence, innovation, etc.

With these values in mind, organizations can start redesigning spaces to achieve this. That is exactly what Axel has done with the Silversquare offices. He has designed them around open spaces, so that interaction is encouraged, but there are also more quiet corners, where you can concentrate on a tough task or meet with another person to talk some things over in a restful environment. The key is that the office works in a fluid and multifunctional way so that you can almost always find added value when you get to the working space.

I hope you learned something new about creating the right work environment, I certainly did!

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