A Bit About the Journey to Corporate Coworking
This is the first in a five part series on corporate coworking here at Conjunctured, We have been in the kitchen now for quite some time, and are starting to take some goodies out of the oven.
Over the past couple of years we have been exploring various ways to grow our business. On several occasions we came frighteningly close to signing leases on BIG and very costly spaces. It makes sense, it seems, that if a coworking space aims to grow it would want to open a second or perhaps bigger location. For quite some time we were driven to have multiple spaces here in Austin. Not so much any more.
Thing is, there are such awesome coworking spaces (Vuka, Link, Posh, Plug and Play, Soma Vida, Capital Factory, Center 61, Golab, Tech Ranch, to name just a few) already spread throughout Austin, that that need is already being met. Overall, we have one of the most balanced and vibrant coworking ecosystems in the world. Just another of many reasons to love Austin!
As we explored various options and directions, it became clear that the coworking world, both here and around the world, is healthy and thriving. However, there are other parts of the world, particularly many of the world’s large companies, that are in desperate need of cultural renewal. Recent research by Right Management Consultants shows that 86% of corporate employees surveyed indicated that they are looking to move jobs in the coming year. This is horrible (and costly news) for human resource managers across the corporate landscape.
Meanwhile, other firms, such as Macquarie Bank in Sydney, are embracing Activity Based Work, a workforce/workspace management solution that is eerily similar to traditional coworking. In ABW workplaces, all employees (including the CEO and other officers) forgo offices and are instead armed with a laptop and a locker. People come and go and work in one of 8 Neighborhoods or Cafes, and move around from space to space on a daily basis.
What Macquarie discovered was that the design of the space actually became a lever, or mechanism, for initiating significant change in the company. Participants cite the accessibility of the CEO (who works out in the open space with everyone else), and the elimination of meetings (because everyone is accessible all the time anyway) as drivers of what they refer to as the democratization of their workplace. What starts as a design project becomes a cultural change project.
Coworking spaces are not encumbered by all of the toxic politics that define so many companies. Rather, we all work in spaces where we choose to go. If companies could possibly tap into the energy and vitality that thrive each day in coworking spaces around the world, there is no question that this would make the world a better place. The values that the coworking community stands for ( autonomy, community, transparency, accessibility, fairness, collaboration, innovation, authenticity), as has been pioneered and exemplified over many years now by New Work City, Indy Hall, Office Nomads, Citizen Space, etc., are in short supply in much of the (corporate) world. Our vision for launching corporate coworking (our version of Activity Based Work) stems from this recognition- working in a large firm does not have to suck!
Hopefully this is just the beginning of a long journey that has many passengers.