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Summary:

One of the panels I’m most looking forward to moderating at Net:Work next month is “Flexi Spaces and Coworking, What Works in the World of Work?” We’ll bring together some workspace experts to discuss how to build places that encourage inspiration, innovation and collaboration.

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One of the panels I’m most looking forward to moderating at Net:Work next month is Flexi Spaces and Coworking. What Works in the World of Work? We’ll bring together some experts and coworking space founders (New Work City‘s Tony Bacigalupo, Loosecubes‘ Campbell McKellar, PariSoma Innovation Loft‘s Julian Nachtigal and NextSpace‘s Jeremy Neuner) to discuss how to build workspaces that encourage inspiration, innovation and collaboration. We’ll consider case studies, best practices and the latest trends in workspaces for the enterprise.

For many freelancers, coworking — a growing movement of independent café-like collaboration spaces for independent professionals — has been a significant development of the past few years. The coworking concept is attractive for freelancers; it gives people who would normally be stuck at home a fun place to work and the chance to network, socialize, develop ideas and work on projects with others.

Typically, coworking spaces are inhabited by members who are working independently, but I believe there are pointers that larger companies can take from the coworking movement as they look to build or adapt their office spaces for the future. In part, that’s because the workforce is becoming much more mobile and distributed, so we’re all starting to become increasingly like the freelance professionals who use coworking spaces. More than that, though, having worked in several coworking spaces, I’m struck by what great places they are to work in; coworking spaces tend to foster inspirational communities and develop collaboration and synergies between their members. That’s something most of the company offices I’ve worked in could do with being more like.

Even for large corporates, there’s inspiration that could be taken from the vibrant and innovative coworking movement. More workers with flexible working arrangements and hotdesking would give companies more latitude to develop light, airy workspaces that encourage collaboration. The more forward-thinking among them may even like to consider the more radical proposal I outlined in a GigaOM Pro article, Making Coworking Corporate-Scale (sub. req.) where I suggested that as more employees demand to work flexibly that companies could even replace large (and hugely expensive) corporate HQs with regional “shared coworking campuses,” where employees from different corporations mingle and cross-pollinate their ideas. I’ll be interested in getting the experts’ thoughts on that proposal at Net:Work.

Join us at Net:Work in San Francisco next month — register here! Want to learn more about coworking in the meantime? Check out Imran’s Coworking 101: A Brief History, which gives an overview of the movement, plus links to some of our posts on the topic.

Photo courtesy Flickr user hyku.

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  1. I agree that even for large companies this is where things are headed — having employees spread out wherever they happen to be. I happen to work remotely for a large company and it’s gradually becoming more common as companies realize that employees are often more productive when they have flexibility and are trusted, and in many cases it’s even cheaper to have a remote employee than to have a dedicated office space for him/her.
    I think a lot of it comes down to trusting your employees, which can be hard to do to this extreme, but it won’t take long to figure out if the employee is being extra productive, or taking advantage and barely doing any work.
    But employee or freelancer, co-working spaces really are a great idea and I hope to see more of them pop up.

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