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Coworking Spaces

Coworking Spaces - Hubs for the Collaborative Economy

Picture: "What’s Mine Is Yours" by Rachel Botsman & Roo Rogers

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Communities and networks are beginning to rapidly develope as a result of something called: the collaborative economy, ultimately challenging the myth of scarcity. While a variety of components form this economy, they seem to all come to the same conclusion: coworking spaces. They are welcoming different communities, meetups, fablabs, markets or P2P platforms, coworking spaces have become the real "hubs" of the collaborative economy. Thus, they provide communities with a space, allowing them to connect with each other.

Things change, and we now see that the collaborative economy is booming. There are more than 5 million Europeans using 2 principle car-sharing platforms: blablacar and carpooling. Airbnb sees a reservation every 2 seconds and crowdfunding platforms raised an estimated $ 3 billion dollars in 2012. Even large companies are starting to realize that coworking is a major part of the collaborative economy and is quickly becoming a way to connect to a community of shared values. This is one of the major topics that will be discussed at the Ouishare Fest in Paris this coming May. It will be the first European event dedicated to discussing the collaborative economy.

Innovation is moving towards coworking spaces

Self-employed skilled graduates are continuously coming together to realize and develope innovative ideas, and this can also be defined as a coworking community. The collaborative and interdisciplinarity nature of these groups is indeed fertile ground for rich exchange. Moreover, the interest of public authorities and large companies now have in coworking, shows that innovation is slowly being associated with coworking spaces. When the aforementioned companies do not create their own third place, they are likely to build partnerships with others as a way to stay up to date with the latest trends. We can already observe this trend through the partnerships between PepsiCo and WeWorkLabs or the incubators of Deutsche Telekom (and their allied companies) Hubraum and YouIsNow which cooperate with betahaus. We also find this in the "corporate innovation program"  hosted at Rocket Space. But there is yet another economy that is also gradually connecting to coworking spaces.

The coworking community supports collaborative economy

To explore its development further, it is imporatnt to note that the collaborative economy has no need for growth, demand, or even purchasing power, because this economy is sustained by the fundamental value of trust. A community of coworkers can be the foundation of trust, as it has already acquired the values of sharing, openness and collaboration. It can also provide network support for the new economy, because with coworking always comes a growing community of talents on a local, national and global scale.

Coworking spaces have increasingly become "sharing hubs." One can see how car-sharing platforms are now well-connected to coworking spaces. The German company Cambio offers discounts to coworkers at the betahaus space located in Hamburg. Following the same principle, Seattle's Office Nomads or Toronto's Camaraderie offer their members a "Business Zip Car Membership", which provides access to Zip cars parked in a nearby space.

Other examples can be found within knowledge-sharing portals, like Skillshare, which is a veritable market of competence. This platform has already established partnerships in order to create classrooms in coworking spaces like Hiveat55 and Minneapolis' CoCo Coworking.

Coworking can also support more local initiatives. Spaces dedicated to social entrepreneurship are a perfect example. The Hub Seattle, a coworking space for social entrepreneurs, supports socially innovative organizations by offering one of them a free spot for a month. For example, the food coop CoFED has already benefitted from using the space to create ideas and discussion around the food.

This increase in space allocation brings us yet to another type of need that coworking spaces can respond to:

 ▶ Next Page:  A place to host the collaborative economy

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