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Companies should start cycling their employees through coworking spaces in order to increase their contacts and boost their creativity. That’s the suggestion from Peter Bihr, a digital consultant who is curating the social media track at next week’s Next conference in Berlin. Bihr hopes coworkers will attend Next to inform the influential audience about the benefits of collaborative workspaces.

Peter Bihr, one of the founders of Third Wave digital consulting agency, has first-hand experience of coworking. He has been a member of Berlin’s Studio 70 and Betahaus, as well as Brooklyn’s No Space, and his time there showed him that even a moderate amount of coworking can be a positive thing:

“I like the atmosphere more than anything else,” Bihr said, “In terms of productivity, it’s not the best way to go about things. There’s a lot of distraction, and I’m a terrible procrastinator. But all these little distractions really add to your overall informed-ness and creativity. I’m there for the community more than anything else.”

For that reason, he advocates a limited use mode of coworking – dropping in occasionally to be inspired and make connections.

Bihr took some elements of the coworking ethic with him when his company set up their own office. Third Wave shares their workspace with another small company, and have several desks that they rent to freelancers. “It feels like coworking, with a little more consistency. You get different perspectives and skill sets. You’re not just by yourself all the time. It helps having extra faces around.”

The Next conference in Berlin offers a number of discussions that should be of interest to coworkers and space managers. Beyond the wealth of information about web and technology developments, Bihr will present a discussion about community-based business models featuring some of Berlin’s best known start-ups.

Speakers include Soundcloud’s David Noël, who oversees the booming music sharing website’s communication in order to build a community of developers. Also speaking are Matt Stinchcomb from Etsy and Bastian Unterberg from Jovoto, two platforms which are based on communities of designers.

But aside from what the Next program can offer coworkers, Bihr is interested in what coworkers can bring to Next: “Mostly, I hope a lot of coworkers go there and tell all these (advertising and PR) agencies in the hallway conversations how great coworking can be. Most agency workers have no clue how awesome it can be. They have their fancy big office lofts, and I don’t think they know what kind of potential there is in coworking spaces."

"It would help if they rented a few desks in coworking spaces and rotated their employees through, so they get out of their own mindspace and get new input. There is so much creative potential to be harvested out there, they don’t tap into that yet. The coworkers could get some contracts out of that, and the agency could get some creativity out of it.”

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Next Conference 2011, Berlin, May 17 & 18

As media partners of NEXT, we are pleased to offer a 20% discount for all interested readers. Simply enter the following code when purchasing your tickets online: Deskmagdiscount.

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