The Real Problem with Paying for ‘Culture’

Culture can make or break any company.

While strong company cultures translate into accelerated growth and increased productivity, creativity, and profitability, toxic cultures decimate team morale and cause productivity to grind to a halt.

Today, business success starts with an engaging culture. It’s how you attract the most talented workers and motivate them to reach their full potential, which in turn enables you to provide the most value to your customers.

So how exactly do you go about building the culture you want?

Positive cultures evolve organically. But some businesses don’t learn this until it’s too late.

Though they understand the importance of culture, many companies try to take shortcuts to an awesome culture by paying coworking facilities like WeWork and piggybacking off the cultures they’ve already established—cultures filled with beer pong, loud music, and margarita parties.

Unfortunately for these businesses, paying for culture is already as outdated as Farmville.

When you’re surrounded by other companies that have embraced the tech bro approach to work, there’s only one logical conclusion: Your company will likely end up with a toxic culture, too.

Not only will the environment be boisterous and rowdy, you run a serious risk of at least some of your female employees feeling “preyed upon” by tech bros who think that the workplace is a perfectly acceptable venue to find a partner—and that every woman within sight is not only fair game, but begging to be approached.

If you want to build a culture that is diverse and inclusive, suffice it to say that task will be difficult, at best, if you work out of a coworking facility that has an official beer keg policy but doesn’t have any space set aside for new mothers to pump breast milk.

While cultures that encourage people to never leave—where there’s free food, gyms, evening programming, and more—might be great for attracting fresh-out-of-college talent, they’re built for people who aren’t parents, especially mothers. If you pay for culture at a coworking facility and end up with a bro culture that encourages people to hang out at the office all day long, you’ll encounter structural issues around diversity and inclusion sooner or later.

This is not to say that hosting Whiskey Fridays or social events during evenings are bad things. Good experiences are positive, after all. They bring people together.

But those add-ons won’t solve the biggest problem about coworking: the absence of a dedicated office that is functionally working.

Just like software developers can’t make the underlying product better by tacking on a million additional features, layering perks upon perks upon perks won’t solve the underlying problem of coworking: that you’re stuck in a tiny and noisy glass cube all day long.

It doesn’t matter how many of your employees might be keen on working out of a coworking space because of the perks that come with it. Their enthusiasm, no matter how inspired, will not make your tiny glass cube any more conducive to inspiring great work.

Instead of paying for space and risking the very real possibility that your company adopts a toxic culture accidentally, wouldn’t it be great to get your own office that enabled you to build and grow your unique culture? And wouldn’t it be great if that space was priced based on the value of the real estate itself—and not on all of the extra gimmicks that seem good on the surface but really just drive up total cost of ownership unnecessarily and scare talent away?

Don’t let coworking companies dictate your company culture and force you to pay for things you don’t need and don’t want.

*There’s a much more sensible and affordable way forward: Let Knotel find, build, and operate the ideal office space you need to create the culture and products you want at a price that works. *

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