The rise of co-working spaces across Australia has been seen by some as the future of work - but despite obvious benefits, the concept is not free from risk.Anna Rolls, Senior Consultant - Safety in the Gallagher Workplace Risk practice, said that from a safety perspective, it really is a case of knowing where your responsibilities begin and end in a shared environment.
“For business looking to move from their own office into a shared working space, they will already be aware of many of the risks that can arise working in an office environment. Where a co-working space differs is who looks after each risk,” Anna said.
“In many co-working spaces, a building manager will be the best point of contact to determine what your responsibilities are and what are those of the building owners or those on the lease.”
Anna said that those utilising co-working spaces should make sure that their staff and any visiting clients or contractors are aware of standard safety procedures, such as where to evacuate in the event of a fire or first aid contacts.
The economics of a co-working space are making them more attractive to a wider range of businesses throughout Australia. The cost of working in a shared space is actually decreasing as more spaces flood the market. The average monthly cost of hiring a desk at a co-working hub fell in all major cities,except Canberra in the 2017-18 financial year.
Co-working spaces are no longer just the realm of start-ups and small businesses, either. According to The Australian Co-working Market Report 2017/19, compiled by global co-working marketplace Office Hub, major firms Woolworths, LG and Accenture are among those who have taken out co-working spaces for their staff.
With businesses of all shapes and sizes now harnessing the benefits of co-working, Anna noted that simple office safety measures still need to be adhered to.
“It is important that those working in co-working spaces remember not to cut costs on their equipment. Ergonomics in an office environment are important to help avoid staff injury,” Anna said.
“You may have to set-up you own work station in a co-working space and it is important that your area is ergonomically correct. Purchasing the right equipment for your work will help you and your staff avoid unnecessary injury.”
While an office environment is safer than many work places, accidents can and do happen. Safe Work Australia has found that from 2003-15, 386 workers died as a result of a slip, trip or fall in the work place with 11,550 injuries report in 2017.
“While you may be aware of the risks you face in a co-working space, communication with building management and other tenants is really important to make sure you and your staff are safe and taking advantage of the benefits shared spaces can bring,” Anna added.
This subject is explored in the latest Gallagher Market Overview Report, Reflecting on a year of change. The report is available as a digital download.