Corporate coworking: How can large companies benefit from the new way of work?

In the last weeks I have been asked a couple of times whether coworking is a trend only popular amongst freelancers and startups or whether it is also affecting how larger companies work. My answer is always ‘have you heard of corporate coworking?’ and the aswer is usually ‘uh, nope’. So, here’s a brief post about corporate coworking!

What is corporate coworking?

Corporate coworking is the adoption of elements of coworking by large companies.

How are corporations adopting elements of coworking?

1. Sharing their workspace with other smaller companies or freelancers.

It is not made with the intention of saving money, but with the aim of learning from the people who is doing things differently, and perhaps attracting talent.

2. Moving some of their team members to coworking spaces.

This is specially useful for change managers, who can see more agile processes use by smaller companies for inspiration; or for creatives, who can run away from their cubicle offices to places that better suit their jobs.

3. Opening coworking spaces.

This is not office sharing, but brad-new coworking spaces, built keeping in mind all the elements of social interaction. Google Campus in London would be a great example, but other companies, including Microsoft, are also working on similar models.

Why are large companies engaging in coworking?

Large companies generally move slow and are risk averse. Mixing up with coworking people and moving to spaces that are open and relaxed can help their workers be more productive and innovative.

Google Campus in London
Google Campus in London

What do you think of corporate coworking? Do you think corporate coworking is a collaboration, or rather a competition with other coworking spaces? Which of the above models do you think can bring more benefits to corporate workers? Let us all know in the comments!

 

4 thoughts on “Corporate coworking: How can large companies benefit from the new way of work?

  1. Interesting topic. I have a hard time believing that very many corporations are going to venture down the coworking road. As you mentioned, coworkers are predominately entrepreneurs. Aside from the viable option to independent office space that coworking sites provide, they also provide the socialization benefit. That isn’t needed in a corporate setting.

    As a whole, existing corporations aren’t big on change. There’s a lot of power playing and politics which involves protecting ones ‘turf.’ Coworking isn’t really conducive to ‘protecting turf.’ Very few corporations even allow, yet alone condone telecommuting. I just see it hard to imagine a corporation disrupting an entire office legacy around coworking. They may profess change and innovation (whether product or structural), but in reality they just play around the edges. But then again … I may be wrong.

  2. I also think another thing of approaching coworking in more traditional large corporations can be putting together teams that normally are disconnected. It may sound too obvious, but reality shows that these large companies normally group people working in tasks/departments that are complementary because they think that they will take advantage of synergies. Traditional companies need their time to process changes and are very slow when adopting tendencies that are around.
    Putting together teams that are normally disconnected may foster the mutual understanding of each one’s work, may reduce misunderstandings and reinforce corporate perception. It is not a risky decision, but can be a good approach to coworking that can pave the way to understanding future benefits of the options mentioned.

    1. Thanks a lot for your comment!

      Indeed, putting disconnected teams in touch could benefit a lot of businesses, and a good way of doing it would be by putting people in the same room.

      Socialization promotes open communication. If developers and finance people sit together, they will learn something about each other’s work. When combined with open company policies that promote knowledge transfer, the fact of being together can make a big difference. More frequent exchanges which are also easier to digest. Who wouldn’t want that?

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