As you may already know, we are proud members of the Frankfurter TechQuartier. The TechQuartier offers entrepreneurs like us a perfect home and the necessary space to experiment and connect. It is about collaborating within a community of makers and discovering the possibilities of tomorrow together. Thus, we want to take a closer look at coworking spaces as a booster for creativity, innovation, and venturing.
Coworking spaces mushroom around the world and contribute to the global trend of a sharing economy. Coworking integrates different elements of home-office concepts, office communities, telecenters, telework, virtual work, virtual teams, incubators, and communities of practice but specifically offers a cross-sectoral working community with more flexibility, autonomy, and opportunities for social interaction. Compared to project teams or virtual teams in the often rigid hierarchies of established firms coworking users can more flexibly choose teams and work processes. The main users of coworking spaces are self-employed persons, freelancers, or micro businesses and particularly start-ups that benefit from low administrative duties, the possibility to exchange views, and opportunities to learn from each other.
“The Word Coworking Won’t Be a Word in the Future, It Will Probably Just Be the Way We Work.”
(Rahul Prakash, Partner at Hatch Today)
In addition, coworking spaces provide high levels of autonomy which includes the access and the use of office infrastructure and amenities at self-regulated working hours. Different to work within the hierarchy, co-working users have the autonomy of working and communicating where, when, with whom, how long, and to which intensity and openness. Thus, the coworking environment enables people to create an individual work rhythm according to their life situation and current workloads. This helps to improve individual satisfaction, communication, collaboration, learning, and job performance as does the social nearness. Coworking users have the freedom to pursue business and nonbusiness targets. Although the term coworking includes ‘‘work’’, users of coworking spaces might seek leisure and socio-cultural desires besides the professional work, possibly combining both elements. Thus, coworking allows autonomy and dynamic combinations of task-related and leisure targets as well as combinations of social and economic targets. The nexus of these can further drive creativity and new forms of entrepreneurship.
This culture may increase the trust level among coworking users and provide guidance that substitutes the non-existing organizational rules as existent in hierarchies of incumbent firms. The form of interaction and community building might lead to different forms of value creation and incubation performance. It shows that coworking users specifically seek the opportunity to acquire and share knowledge, learn, and receive feedback in coworking spaces. The simultaneously open, yet close collaboration offers a variety of learning advantages, which have already been investigated on the firm and alliance level. Intensified social interaction, strengthened networking, exploration of complementarities, knowledge transfer, and learning specifically create potentials for creativity, unexpected serendipity, innovativeness and improved or new business models.
What’s in There for Me?
Even though the coworking movement has its origins among freelancers, entrepreneurs, and the tech industry, it’s increasingly relevant for a broader range of people and organizations. In fact, coworking can become part of your company’s strategy, and it can help your people and your business thrive. It is a possibility for your employees to choose whether to work within a traditional office space or being able to learn how to create the right kind of work environment inside your own walls. In fact, it empowers people to craft their work in ways that give them purpose and a deeper meaning. An innovative design focused on flexibility and interaction in a well-connected location can boost employee engagement and attract talent.
Tell Me How!
First and foremost, companies should seek to understand what constitutes value for their business and how the workplace can better support this: Is the goal to promote innovation, encourage a cultural exchange, or attract talent? Solutions can then be developed to most effectively respond to specific strategic objectives. Creating a “successful” coworking space is not simply about creating another place to work. The experience itself is paramount to making coworking a success. Whether co-working is primarily seen as a tool for recruiting or retaining staff or used to foster innovation, it should ultimately aim to satisfy wider business objectives. Furthermore, introducing the concept of coworking gradually, moving from a model of least operational complexity to a more complex setting involving a larger group of participants. This will ensure that the cultural impact is relatively subtle.
I am Prof. Ricarda B. Bouncken, part of the 1789 network and chair of strategic management and organization at the University of Bayreuth. In the past decades, I have developed rich expertise on how to tackle strategic challenges of firms. I have worked with large corporates but also smaller SMEs or even flexible start-ups in several industries.
My research experience and consulting particularly provides solutions for firms towards the creation of novel organizational and collaborative structures within and among firms to increase their innovation capabilities and new venturing success. Furthermore, I developed models to improve learning, collaboration, and to unlock an organization’s innovative potential. My most recent results and models indicate that coworking spaces help start-ups and corporates to use the potentials of the digitization while balancing human interaction and digital processes. If you interested in these topics, feel free to look to have a look at my publication list.
Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? Do you want to share your story? Please leave a comment below!