Collaborating ‘within’: deliberate development in coworking spaces
Coworking spaces are booming in Greater Manchester and it’s no surprise with a seemingly unstoppable growth in the numbers of freelancers, entrepreneurial start-ups and just those no longer provided with a full-time desk by their employer. Only last month the Manchester Evening News highlighted that at least 200,000 sq ft of co-working space will be added to the city centre alone in 2017.
The spaces we are choosing to work in cover a wide spectrum from traditional serviced offices, new high-tech and polished spaces, rawer (and cheaper) shared spaces right to the continuing attraction for many of the free wifi available in certain high-street snack chains. The ‘co-working story’ talks a lot about young and speculative ‘tech start-ups’. But with few businesses able to operate without some element of internet or e-commerce and more people of all ages re-thinking their purpose either voluntarily or not, the reality of the range of professionals, start-ups and increasingly social enterprises operating in these spaces is almost infinite in its variety. That’s alongside coworking increasingly being used by mature companies who recognise these spaces can bring the opportunity to create new value through collaboration.
So coworking is big business and, communal by its very nature, is qualitatively different from its distant-cousin ‘hot-desking’,
"Creating a successful coworking space relies upon generating a sense of community, collaboration, and engagement amongst users. It is not simply about creating another place to work."
Maria at amity wrote recently about the importance of creating inclusive spaces for people to hold each other, to deeply connect and listen, to collaborate and create change together. A shared passion for creating cultures of collaboration brought amity and Happen together
Good coworking spaces already employ dedicated community managers to support the experience and increasingly offer a wide variety of both business and social support and events, everything from networking to yoga. Opportunities to connect with ‘like-minded’ others, are key factors for people choosing a space; we are after all social animals, entrepreneurship, ‘gig-working’ or other forms of ‘arms-length’ employment can be lonely places. In our tours of coworking spaces It’s evident in any good space that those who work there often act as colleagues in any traditional office - interested in each other’s social lives, helping with tech issues, making tea and at this time of year planning or recovering from office christmas parties.
But why stop at mirroring the existing levels of support and sociability of the traditional office? Particularly when we know these ways of working have so many flaws? What if we could supercharge the connecting and up the ante on the kinds of collaboration coming out of coworking spaces - for the benefit of both individuals and the work output, including social good? At amity and Happen we believe we can deliberately design in the means for spaces to become places that do just this; places that offer support for all, nurturing our development and learning and upskilling us to collaborate successfully. Using facilitation and coaching we want to work with spaces to do that supercharging so we can all get the most out of the ‘coworking revolution’ and impact the world for good.
amity and Happen are Manchester based social enterprises, working alongside Funky Spaces to develop new tools and offers for those working ‘within’ coworking spaces in the Greater Manchester area. If you want to get in touch about what we could provide in your space contact firstname.lastname@example.org