The ability to innovate and provide creative solutions to complex problems is becoming a key differentiator in modern business. Making the time to look externally and gain a fresh perspective on your business can often yield significant results with greater collaboration.
Collaboration is something that I actively encourage and have personally seen success with in my role as Director at AsOne, Creative Digital Marketing.
Cultivating a community of creative personalities to share ideas and insights has been incredibly rewarding, and led me to think more about how we can leverage collaboration to our benefit and the benefit of our customers.
One area that we’ve been looking at for some time is co-working spaces.
This type of flexible working environment originally started in the US, providing an inexpensive solution for freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses that needed a place to work.
The practice has since spread to Europe, with the UK, and London in particular, now regarded as an excellent destination for businesses seeking collaborative work spaces.
As the barriers between work and home life have fallen away, the demand for creative work spaces that reflect this has increased dramatically, and co-working spaces have evolved to meet this demand.
Some of these venues have become a hot spot for creativity and collaboration, by creating an environment where like-minded individuals can bounce ideas off each other and help each other succeed.
They do this in a number of ways:
- Flexible meeting spaces – As the nature of work has changed, the way that teams interact and work together most effectively has also evolved. Collaborative work spaces offer companies access to facilities and meeting room spaces that actively support this interaction.
- Break out areas – Creativity can’t be forced, and taking a break in a suitably relaxing environment can often help to stimulate breakthrough ideas. These spaces also present the opportunity for serendipitous encounters with other individuals who can provide a different perspective to your problems.
- Continuing education – It is often said that the companies that succeed are those that learn the fastest. Many co-working spaces host regular talks, inviting guest speakers to come in and share expert opinions on key business challenges.
- Collaboration – Consciously working with other companies can help you to reach clients that might previously have been unattainable, by jointly supplying a bundle of services at a competitive price point. Co-working spaces can help you to foster relationships with these potential partners and share ideas on exciting new propositions.
Further to these benefits, collaborative working environments have also taken on some features traditionally associated with start-up accelerators, providing the support mechanisms to help small businesses grow. They seek to actively build connections between their members, helping identify opportunities that might otherwise have been overlooked.
These extra support services also allow businesses to remain focused on solving real world problems, rather than wasting time fixing logistical issues, or circumventing red tape. If you’re having a specific problem, the likelihood is that someone around you has been through this too, and can help you solve it quicker than you could on your own.
Starting a business can be a lonely and daunting journey, and having a community around you comes as a great relief for many.
The Future of Work
The notion of work is fundamentally changing, and we see these types of collaborative, co-working spaces becoming increasingly important in the future.
As a growing business in the creative and digital sector, here at AsOne we look to opportunities to expand our exposure to collaborative working. Cross-company greater collaboration is something that I have been actively encouraging as a DCN Founder and I see a natural synergy between established businesses and new talent starting out as sole traders who bring the added bonus of fresh enthusiasm and ideas.
As more and more people shun the corporate career path and instead set up as independent freelancers, there is a huge opportunity for loosely coupled networks of micro-businesses to work together more collaboratively, and create something that is greater than the sum of their parts.
While co-working spaces have typically only been used by start-ups and small companies, I believe there is an opportunity for established companies to become a bigger part of this ecosystem.
In fact, this isn’t just something that I believe in, but something that we’re actively embracing at AsOne. We’re really excited to be taking up residence in the Central Working space in London and look forward to getting an insider’s view of the realities of collaborative working environments.
We’ve also been closely following the transformation of the Ashton Old Baths into a start-up hub focused on providing incubation and support for fledgling digital businesses. The spectacular £3m redevelopment is a fantastic step towards establishing Tameside as a centre for digital and creative industries and I’m expecting great things to come of it.
If you have any questions regarding collaborative working or co-working spaces, then feel free to get in touch.