Co-Working: The Rise of Mental Health In The Workplace

Depression. Anxiety. Poor sleep habits. Low self-esteem. What do all these things have in common? Each can be a symptom of poor mental health directly related to your work environment. First, rewind for a second to the golden age of baby boomers in the workplace, where tiny cubicles and fluorescent lighting were the sign of a modern day office. Separation from coworkers, quiet buildings and minimal natural lighting was very often seen as standard work space. Flash ahead to 2019, and studies have shown that secluded, silent offices flooded with an overhead white glow can actually lead to less productivity among workers, and a diminished state of mental health over an extended period of time. As we roll into the future, bringing in new work environment concepts, the major features of co-working spaces are being proven to help reduce things such as anxiety, depression, fatigue and even promote productivity, just to name a few. How, you ask?

Segregation VS Networking

The original concept of the cubicle was designed to give workers a sense of their own office, without having to actually contract dozens of tiny offices across the floor. The cubicle gave privacy, while also cutting off communication from other workers while on the clock. However, more recent studies have shown that workplace integration and shared idea spaces actually creates better results. Open spaces, which allow for casual chit-chat, networking of projects, ideas and contacts showed results of workers being more productive, less fatigued and having less anxiety about meeting deadlines and completing tasks1. The co-working open concept has also shown to help businesses meet goals faster and more efficiently than those separating employees into private, individual spaces. Not to mention, employee retention within co-working spaces skyrocketed above those using separation in a 2018 study2. Based on the idea that social interaction can boost your mood and lower anxiety and work-related depression, co-working spaces are using this idea to create a more well-balanced work environment, to ensure maximum productivity, while still putting the mental health of workers at the forefront of priorities. 

Socialization & Collaborations

Coming into the new millennium, when someone used the term “collaboration” it was often in reference to two major music artists creating a track together. But, in 2019, the idea of a “collab often reaches the everyday workplace, making shared spaces a vital part of idea creation and workload contribution. Much like removing segregation of employees, the concept of shared spaces often snowballs into ideas, discussions and contributions from other employees and even other businesses. This type of socialization has been shown to reduce social anxieties, mind blocks, and even create some of the biggest product ideas of the last year3. In fact, even major companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon continue to take the traditional idea of group brainstorming and modify it into open work and discussion spaces, allowing employees and fellow businesses to fuel and feed off each other’s ideas. 

Working From Home, At Work

We’ve all had the Sunday Scaries. That overwhelming gloomy anxiety at about 7pm on a Sunday night, knowing you have to return to work in the morning and start the week all over again. But what if your office felt more like home? More like a social gathering with laughter, conversation, productivity and flow of positive accomplishments, topped off with pingpong and Artisan lattes. Welcome to the world of co-working spaces. Shared work spaces are taking the data derived from workplace studies, and creating environments that give a more home-like feel to employees. This idea of modern styles, comfortable furniture, extra curriculars such as ping pong or rooftop patios, showed in several 2018 studies to reduce the Sunday night stress of employees4. Gone are the days of flicking fluorescents and grey cubicles. Today’s co-working spaces offer bright, natural lighting, cityscape views, topnotch boardrooms, comfy armchairs and even touch screen coffee makers. These types of small changes are throwing out the idea of office space, and creating a more positive, home-like feel for employees which is starting work weeks on a positive note, and continuing that upbeat feel through to Friday afternoon. In fact, most businesses that switched to co-working spaces, found their employees to be happier, more relaxed, and even working longer hours on their own volition. 

As the world and the workplace take more and more notice of the effects of mental health, many businesses are turning to simple solutions with immediate results. Co-working spaces across the country are showing such a massive spike in employee health, happiness and productivity, as they continue to grow and expand to make every office a place where “going to work” doesn’t feel like a punishment. Thinking about making a change for your business? Take a look at all the unique co-working offices Spacie has to offer in Toronto and other major cities!

1. Amador, Cecilia. “Promoting Mental Health In The Workplace.” (Accessed March 2019).

2. Kozelouzek, Lauren. “How To Change Your Office To Attract and Retain Employees.” (Accessed March 2019)

3. Rapley, Sophie. “Why Working In A Co-working Environment Can Benefit Your General Mental Wellbeing.” (Accessed March 2019)

4. Business Editorial. “Why Do Businesses Perform Better in Co-Working Spaces?”  (Accessed March 2018)

The 5 People You’ll See At Co-Working Spaces

Coworking Space

In a world where nearly an entire generation is separated from excessive face-to-face interaction due to the limitless abilities of technology, one area is rebranding and reinventing the idea of mixing social and professional qualities. That being, co-working spaces. These new-age shared workspaces are popping up across major cities and revolutionizing the way small businesses, freelancers, start-ups and entrepreneurs create their office environments.

One of the most commonly heard of co-working environments across Canada is WeWork. Offering an open concept office space for up to 25 people, per business, at an affordable price tag, co-working spaces help to cut costs, boost productivity and give new business a professional environment, already built and ready to move in to. 

While co-working spaces are open to all types of businesses and walks of life, there does seem to be some common elements across the board. The trendy style, the groovy furniture, and of course, the top 5 people you will inevitably meet at nearly any co-working space. 

The Healthy Hippie

The great thing about shared work spaces is that you get a very social environment, especially when it comes to the kitchen and lunchtime, which is where you’ll meet The Healthy Hippie. This particular workspace dweller will almost always be inconveniently prepping their elaborately green lunch, while simultaneously be telling the people in line for the toaster the importance of hemp hearts and how disappointed they were with the organic chives at the farmer’s market this past weekend. Don’t be fooled, The Healthy Hippie doesn’t just drone on about their superfoods and antioxidant-filled bowl of  what appears to be grass, they are inconspicuously judging your hot pocket in the communal microwave. Snacker beware, The Hippie’s eyes are everywhere. 

The Shockingly Young Entrepreneur

Kid jumping in puddle

Co-working environments are almost perfectly designed for a young, fresh entrepreneur. Offering them a professional space, without the cost. Thus, in every WeWork across the country you are bound to find the trendy, yet stressed out, Shockingly Young Entrepreneur. They can easily be spotted by their casual attire and expensive accessories, whether it be a Gucci wallet or brand new, just released iPhone, The Shockingly Young Entrepreneur keeps very much to themselves. Constantly offering mystery as to how they made it happen for themselves, but you will rarely see the young entrepreneur standing around socializing. Friday afternoon ping-pong? Not a chance for the token Shockingly Young Entrepreneur. 

The Floater

Annoying coworker

Not unlike going to a high school library or cafeteria, there is constantly one person who drifts from group to group, offering no major loyalty or productivity to any group in particular. The Floater is always very social, seemingly friends with people from all corners and work areas, chatting and offering lively small talk about local events, restaurants, Netflix specials, you name it. The true mystery behind The Floater is that while they offer a personable distraction when that Venti Double Shot has your mouth running a mile a minute, you never really see them accomplish anything nor even truly learn what they do for a living. But you have to admit, they’ve got the entire recap on the last season of Games of Thrones when you need a refresh. 

The Random Dog

Cute pug

Always. There is always a dog. In nearly every office in major cities, people are bringing their dogs. I mean, who wouldn’t want to break up their workday with some puppy petting and snapping some solid IG content of a golden retriever sitting at a computer? The owner of The Random Dog is usually somewhere in the office, but nobody is ever quite sure who the pet-parent of the office dog is, as everyone seems to jump in and care for the pooch at every chance they get. You will notice though, The Random Dog  almost always has an adorably ironic name, and is usually the most socially well-behaved being in the entire building. Just sayin’.

The Anti-Socials

Too serious office worker

The cool kids. The mean girls. The group that deep, down wishes they had the office to themselves. There is always one, and usually a small one, group of workers who live in a bubble of ignorance to those around them. They look like the studious adults you’d find in the U of T library, and they are never caught aimlessly cruising websites not related to their work. Hats off to the professional mindset, and don’t take it personal. Let them work, watch them from a safe distance, and if you find a great sale suddenly happening at Zara, tell the floater instead. 

As the working world continues to evolve and expand, the idea of open concept and co-working environments is becoming more and more of a hot topic. Providing equal opportunity to small businesses to have access to professional work spaces, board rooms, interviews areas and more, there is no limitation as to where to the world of co-working will go. See for yourself by checking out the wide range of shared working environments in Toronto which Spacie has to offer, perfect for businesses of any size.

Is Co-Working Right for You?

The workplace has seen many changes over the years. Until recently, most consisted of large corner offices for the top guys, more modest private offices for middle managers and the rest of the team in what was often described as a cubicle farm. This at least gave everyone a little space to call their own and put up a photo of the wife, the family pet or an out of date meme.  

While the top executives might still have their fancy offices, many of the rest of us mere mortals now work in a very different environment. Often, this will be in a co-working environment.  

We have all seen the funky designs, slides, video games, bowling alleys and climbing walls at some of the behemoths like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. Most of the population still work in a somewhat less exciting and inspiring environment.  

WeWork 40 King St W Location

What is Co-Working?

Before we consider the positive and negative aspects it is important to understand what co-working is and what it looks like.

Put simply, co-working is a shared office area where workers generally share office equipment, IT infrastructure, meeting rooms, common areas, kitchens, and bathrooms. Often even support staff such as receptionist and secretaries are shared by the users of the co-working office.

Space or desks can be allocated to specific companies or individuals or could be dynamic. In a dynamic area, you simply find an empty workstation, plug in and get working.   

Love it or hate it, the concept is becoming increasingly popular.

Workhaus 56 Temperance Location

Why is co-working becoming popular?

Initially, the concept appealed to small startups, freelancers and solopreneurs. It gave them access to the space and services they needed as well as a professional front for their business without the massive overheads of running their own office.

Over time, medium and even larger companies came to see the benefits.


Office overheads are high and constant. Most space is underutilized for a large part of the day. Co-working allows for the best use of the space and the cost of common areas, meeting rooms, kitchens, restrooms, break areas and other space can be shared proportionately by those that use the facility.

IT infrastructure and maintenance costs, office automation such as copiers, printers and other equipment, telephone systems and other essential equipment and infrastructure costs can be shared.

The cost of support staff such as receptionists, cleaning, maintenance, security, and others is also shared according to the space requirements of each individual or organization in the co-working environment.   

Group buying power can also reduce the cost of office supplies and consumables that the individuals or smaller businesses would not normally benefit from.

IQ Offices 150 King St W Location


Modern companies need to be agile and flexible. Expanding a traditional office is a slow and expensive exercise if even possible. It might mean relocating as you expand. Co-working allows you to expand faster and with less disruption and expense.

Importantly, it also allows you to scale back if and when necessary. With co-working you can scale your business as and when necessary including seasonal expansion or visiting contingents.

Speed to market

Building on the above point, speed to market is often a critical success factor in modern business. Setting up a new office in a new territory is not only expensive but time-consuming. Co-working spaces could allow you to set up immediately with little to no delays.

Professional Image

Co-working allows smaller companies, individuals, freelancers, and solopreneurs to have a professional office space and an environment that could improve their status and image for the fraction of the cost of a traditional office.

Workplace One 901 King St W Location

Networking opportunities

Having a wide mix of skills and talents in the same space could result in networking opportunities and skills sharing that could be of great benefit to all involved. This is a growing trend and much easier to achieve face to face than online.

While many people believe they work better alone, be it at home or elsewhere, this is rarely the case. We are social animals and need the company of others around us. Co-working allows people to get on with their work without the isolation and loneliness that often comes with working alone.

IQ Offices 250 University Ave Location

Stimulating environment

Budget offices, which many might have to resort to as an alternative to co-working spaces, are more likely to be drab and uninspiring. The shared costs allow the better co-working offices to have modern designs with great features and an excellent feel.

Some have amazing facilities including quality food and beverage facilities, health centers, excellent breakrooms, and recreational facilities.

What are the downsides?

Co-working is not all rainbows and butterflies and there are some downsides. While there are many benefits, it is important to access the negative aspects before committing to the concept.


Many people like to be the master of their own domain and have a spot they can call their own. Most co-working spaces are open plan although there are flexible options. Some workers might be bothered by the guy two desks down that slurps his coffee loudly or the aggressive sales guy making booming phone calls all day. While this can happen in any office environment one has less control over these situations in a shared space.

WeWork 1 University Location


Some companies have concerns that competitors might take up space in the same environment. This can be discussed with the managers of the environment but again, this could present opportunities for collaboration that might not otherwise become evident.


You might have urgent deadlines or simply prefer working odd hours. Many co-working environments have 24-hour access but check on this before deciding.


With your own office, you have control over all aspects of the environment. In a shared environment, you will have to sacrifice much of that control for the benefits it provides. If you do not like the artwork in reception or the color of the walls, it will not be up to you to make changes.

WeWork 240 Richmond St W Location

Final thoughts

The rapid growth in the popularity of co-working is a testimony to the many benefits it offers. While it may not work for everyone, for many, it allows them to focus on their work without the stress of running an office. If you need a place for yourself or your staff to work from, co-working is certainly worth considering.