CO-WORKING is a buzzword that just a couple of years ago was relatively unheard of, but in 2012 it's going to be everywhere.
Therefore, it’s important to understand how it relates to big businesses as well as freelancers and start-ups.
Co-working involves multiple companies and/or freelancers sharing a working environment, which could be anything from someone’s front room to a cafe or a more traditional office. If you walk into Central Bean on Gallowgate, you’re sure to find a mix of people sitting with their laptops, cappuccino on table, sending emails and making calls. They haven’t arranged to meet there but it’s convenient and the business is friendly to this arrangement.
At the other end of the spectrum we run LoveYourLarder.com from the Ignite loft on Westgate Road, a space we share with nearly a dozen other companies and freelancers who each pay rent for their desk or office.
The important distinction between the Ignite loft and other small office complexes is the lack of closed doors – unless there is a particularly important meeting, the doors are always open.
We are a relatively small company, but being part of a co-working space means that when we run into a problem there is almost always someone else here who has been through the same thing and can help.
Steve Jobs believed innovation and creativity couldn’t come from emails or partitioning offices, but instead would emerge from unintended meetings and running into people you wouldn’t normally see.
This principle guided him when building the Pixar offices where he ensured that no one could stay in just one part of the building, even going to the toilet meant that you had to visit a different area so that you would see everybody during the course of a day.
Co-working isn’t just for businesses working in similar industries. Xsite Architecture have invited a number of different companies to share their Foundry Studios in Ouseburn. Even large companies like Google have started to experiment with co-working among their different divisions in the hope that, like at Pixar, there’ll be some creative sparks coming out of the spontaneous meetings.
Whether you’re a freelancer or work for a multi-national then why not try working somewhere different for a day? In fact, we’ve got a spare desk in our office and you’re more than welcome to come and spend the day working here!
:: Tristan Watson is the founder of Newcastle-based online artisan food market LoveYourLarder.com