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Als freiberufliche Grafik-Designerin ist es mir wichtig mich mit anderen austauschen zu können. In einer Atmosphäre wie dem Work Inn und mit meinen Coworkern habe ich diese Möglichkeit, genauso wie ich es früher mit meinen Arbeitskollegen hatte. Darüber hinaus ist das Büro eine willkommene Abwechslung zu den eigenen vier Wänden.
Coworking spaces come in a great variety of sizes and ambience, offering different services and amenities for different clientele in different locations (Spinuzzi 2012, p. 400). There are, however, common features which can be identified. Coworking spaces seek to provide their clients with the best features of three classical workspaces utilized by mobile knowledge workers: The flexibility of the home office, the vibe of the café and the facilities of the serviced or traditional office (DeGuzman & Tang 2011, p. 41; CBRE 2013, p. 9).
Usually coworking spaces have an open-plan layout, emphasising affordability of space, flexible membership plans and a dedicated community manager. In many cases, the spaces have a set of values which they promote (Spinuzzi 2012, p. 399; CBRE 2013, p. 9). Frequently, the setup stresses inspiration and creativity so that spaces rarely look like standard office space (Johns & Gratton 2013, p. 70;CBRE 2013, p. 9).
There is no commonly agreed upon definition of coworking and the concept is still evolving (DeGuzman & Tang 2011, p. 22; Spinuzzi2012, p. 433). Analysing elaborations on the concept by Coworking Wiki (no date), DeGuzman & Tang (2011) and Spinuzzi (2012) it can be deduced that essentially coworking aims to improve the work-life and performance of workers by providing them with professional and social networks (i.e. “community”) as well as a shared infrastructure.
Coworking is a service that can be purchased, however, the strong focus on community means that a large portion of the value is added by those buying the service (Spinuzzi 2012, p. 432). By bringing professionals together in one physical location where a sense of community exists, they have the chance to share ideas and seek feedback as well as support (DeGuzman & Tang 2011, p. 50; Johns & Gratton2013, p. 70). Coworking also increases the chance of serendipitous encounters where people by chance learn something new from others without explicitly trying to (DeGuzman & Tang 2011, p. 47). Such encounters are considered an important factor for innovation (Johns & Gratton2013, p. 69). When asked why they chose a particular space, 66% of coworkers stated a social or enjoyable atmosphere (deskmag 2012, p. 12) and 92% stated that coworking had a positive impact on their social circle (deskmag 2012a, 18). Hence, coworking addresses the issue of professional and social isolation by providing a professional network as well as a social community.
There are additional benefits of coworking which add value to the service: It is a highly flexible office space procurement option, spaces can provide a professionally looking environment where members can meet business partners (DeGuzman & Tang 2011, p. 46; Spinuzzi 2012, p. 423), they provide freelancers and small businesses with the opportunity to share otherwise expensive infrastructure such as receptionists, meeting rooms, kitchen, printers, copiers and coffee machines (DeGuzman & Tang 2011, p. 50) and the opportunity to work together with fellow coworkers on larger projects (Spinuzzi 2012, p. 426).
Advanced economies have shifted from manufacturing to knowledge based
economies (Blok et al. 2012, p. 5075), which rely strongly on intellectual capital (Powell & Snellman 2004, p. 199). Knowledge workers possess multiple types of knowledge which they use to identify and solve complex problems. Modern information and communication technologies (ICT) improved the way data, information and knowledge is created, found, stored, shared, processed and presented (Barnes 2012, p. 120). Those technologies exercise profound influence on the way business is conducted today (e.g. Andriole 2012; Barnes 2012 or Blok et al. 2012). Due to continuous network access, as well as server based software and database applications, mobile devices such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and netbooks fully substitute traditional workstations (Andriole 2012, p. 52). Consequently, knowledge work has become technically independent from time and location (CBRE 2013, p. 3; Spinuzzi 2012, p. 40; Johns & Gratton 2013, pp. 68 f.; Venezia & Allee 2007, p. 168). As companies increasingly enable flexibility in time and location of work, mobile knowledge workers started to gravitate towards places where they can be most productive (Johns & Gratton2013, p. 68.). Frequently, this is not the conventional office (Venezia & Allee2007, p. 176), but home offices, the client’s office, executive suites, cafes or during travel (Spinuzzi 2012; Wheatley 2012; CBRE
Working virtually also benefits the workforce. For example, the working day can be structured flexibly (Wheatley 2012, p. 226) and commuting
time can be reduced (Wheatley 2012a, p. 818). The gained flexibility and time can make
achieving a work-life balance easier, while skilled and well-compensated tasks can still be undertaken (Johns
& Gratton2013, p. 68). In addition to this, mobile working also provide the workforce with a greater degree of autonomy (Barnes 2012, pp. 127 f.;
Harmer & Pauleen 2012, p. 441). However, there are drawbacks associated with this new way of
working. Mobile professionals who work predominantly virtually can suffer from professional isolation. This phenomenon includes career stagnation due to a lack of visibility (Wheatley 2012, p. 225; Johns & Gratton2013, p. 69; Brunelle 2012, p. 60) and difficulties to build and maintain professional networks (Spinuzzi 2012, p. 402; Wheatley 2012, p. 225; Curtis & Janssen 2011, p. 16). Social isolation proved to be a concern as well for people working remotely. Workers were found to miss a sense of community as well as unstructured social contact (Johns & Gratton2013, pp. 68 f.; Spinuzzi 2012, p. 402) and experienced deterioration in their social networks (Wheatley 2012, p. 227).