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The hidden treasures of coworking

Many universities archive hidden treasures: studies about the coworking industry. By creating a coworking library we want to make these treasures public to accumulate knowledge.

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Public collaborative workspaces

The hybridization of coworking spaces can be tracked when looking at the growing amount of libraries, which have turned into collaborative workspaces. In her thesis Public Cospaces: Creating productive collaboration in public libraries, Allison Schultz reports on a methodology that could be an inspiration to develop open collaborative spaces in public libraries. For that purpose, and because the sharing economy tends to treat the users as producers rather than consumers, she applied participatory design methods. Some examples of these applied practices were: picture stimulation, card sorting, collages to understand the goals of existing collaborative spaces.

Schultz makes an important distinction between what happens between space and place. She says, “space represents “what it is”, while place represents “how it’s used.” Shultz also points out that collaborative spaces could be categorized as private (workspace), semi private (coworking spaces), semipublic (Library) and finally as public spaces, which are cruelly missing, according to the author.

How to generate “happy surprises” in public spaces

Each individual space fosters different kinds of interactions. However, random interactions and “happy surprises”, are usually not designed for public spaces. Thus, "Public Cospaces" constitutes an added value by its results, but also in its research process. By using participatory design methodology and interviewing owners, users or designers of a space, Schultz’s research set a conceptual framework to be applied to next wave of co-designing collaborative workspaces.

We also realized that there is not only a need for co-creation and co-design, but also to understand the emotional factors involved, which can help to create workspaces able to generate serendipity and unplanned interactions.

Rural Coworking

A coworking space will be unique according to how it answers to its community needs. This concept is especially true in rural areas where coworking has also recently appeared. That was the focus of Juha Heikkilä master’s thesis, “Preconditions for Sustainable Rural Coworking Spaces in Southwest Finland”. When reading through Heikkilä’s work, you will first understand that the creation of coworking spaces in a rural area could actually look similar to what happens in metropolitan areas. Nevertheless, there are also some major differences to consider. In fact, there could be some issues affecting both the need and the attractiveness of the coworking space.

Some major points to consider when planning a coworking space in a rural area, would be the importance of social interactions and the environmental aspect. These factors highly impact the attractiveness of the space. Also, the segmentation of coworking spaces within a single population, such as starts-ups, artists, hackers, or women, would actually not be a major consideration for a rural coworking space. The author also sets the opportunities and difficulties for a rural coworking space. On the one hand, the financial risk of establishing a rural coworking space can be really low. On the other hand, depending on your location, a good and fast internet connection would pretty difficult to have in many remote areas.

The coworking library project

Those were just a few examples of the innovative research being done within the coworking movement. We know that there is so much more work being produced, and we are now planning our coworking library, which we want to share it with all of you. The works chosen will involve coworking spaces, in-depth research and students who can share their work in one unique online library. 

Please visit our campaign and help make the coworking library dream come true! 

Do you want to get involved in the coworking library, send us your own work.

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