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Coworking – latest fashion trend or an important engine for innovation?

Lars-Thorsten Sudmann
Dec 27, 2019 11:55:33 PM

At the beginning of the millennium, coworking has been a topic for hipsters of the west coast. Today, the new and flexible office model has spread almost all around the globe. Whether that will lead to further innovation and creativity remains an open question.

  • Coworking indicates flexible collaboration with others – even strangers - in open space offices or specifically established coworking spaces.
  • Meanwhile, even large companies arrange coworking areas or rent coworking spaces for their staff. This is called corporate coworking or “corpoworking”.
  • Depending on personality and workplace requirements of those involved, coworking can be, on a case-by-case basis, a convenient solution and is rather not to be named a fashion trend anymore.

The coworking idea started as a relation to the emergence of locations where creative knowledge workers could flee their home office isolation. The first coworking rooms (or spaces) were especially populated by freelancers. Today, whole companies rent places for their employees, or establish their very own coworking offices in their company buildings. Depending on the level of equipment, flexible office workstations additionally offer an access to office technology, a small kitchen with a beverage lump-sum, conference rooms or relaxation areas. Also, the ambience can vary greatly – from improvised to professional to stylish and luxurious. That, too, is reflected in the price.   

Coworking offers advantages - especially for the self-employed - but also some disadvantages

Coworking spaces often provide significant cost benefits towards a rental of self-contained office areas. Freelancers in particular, can hardly find any representative rooms that are more favourable. Supplementary services such as beverage flat-charges, conference rooms or telephone services offer just as many benefits. One of the most important pro-coworking-arguments for freelancers and companies: an easy and quicker contact to others. Due to the use of a coworking space in an immediate vicinity, permanent workers even save long commuting times.

Then again, not anyone can carry on a job in a restive open-space office.  Additionally, it can be difficult for freelancers as well as companies using coworking spaces, as the potential competition can always listen in. In addition, the offices‘ large flexibility for companies can rapidly reduce planning capabilities as soon as more space is needed – two reasons that plead for an establishment of proprietary coworking spaces.

A good remedy for silo thinking

Nevertheless: The benefits of coworking unambiguously outweigh the disadvantages which is why coworking cannot be considered as an ephemeral fashion trend. Freelancers and companies are able to get into conversations with people outside of their “usual environment”, which then again offers them to think “outside of the box”.  And even if coworking spaces will be arranged within company buildings – they still play a part in contributing to cross-departmental contacts and, in that case, to favourable means against an unproductive silo mentality. Consequently, coworking spaces help develop creative ideas and support innovative processes.

Next month also in english language.

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