Barcelona not only has lots of spirit — it is constantly renewing itself. From BizBarcelona to coworking spaces, new initiatives are always sprouting up around the city to give young (and experienced) entrepreneurs increasingly more opportunities to grow their businesses. However, as with any tool, these development opportunities must be used properly to yield positive results.
What exactly is coworking? It’s a shared office space, yes—but those have been in use far before Brad Neuberg coined the concept of co-working in 2005. Google defines it as “the use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically so as to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge.” The concept is clear; and it sounds like it is headed towards more effective, co-operative development. The problem arises when the purpose of coworking gets forgotten. If the sharing of ideas and knowledge isn’t actively invigorated, then co-working becomes just another office, except with other people inside it.
How do you avoid this? Some workspaces have adopted the “open office” mindset, eliminating virtually every wall except those essential to keep the building standing to cultivate greater co-operation. However, as outlined by The New Yorker, the open office might undermine the very things it was meant to achieve.
That doesn’t mean, however, that coworking can’t be an excellent tool! Barcelona is one of the cities thriving under the new collaborative office scheme. There are hundreds of coworking offices to choose from already, and a brand new 1000-person coworking called Pier 01 will open next week in the port area. Barcelona Tech City is the organization bringing together all the companies that will work in this new coworking, saying their objective is to help promote the growth of startups in Barcelona.
How, then, do you make sure that coworking is successful? There are a few easy tips that can help ensure that you make the most out of your coworking office.
Make Your Employees Comfortable
Nobody will feel like sharing ideas and knowledge if there is tension in the office. Although too many walls don’t help the open conversation, no walls at all may not fare any better. I’m not suggesting you install cubicles or room dividers everywhere, but make sure your office allows for privacy or a quiet area when your employees need it.
Create a Collaborative Space
A great balance between collaboration and confidentiality may be achieved if you designate a part of your office space as a “collaborative area.” This can include a large desk, a bulletin board where employees can share ideas for motivation or inspiration, or a small kitchen. The rest of the office space can then be used as “independent working spaces,” where employees can work autonomously if they need to focus on a task without being interrupted by others’ conversation. This would also enable each employee to have a small space they can call their own and personalize.
Cultivate a Community
Why are you sharing your office with certain employees (rather than any others)? Surely it must be because you have something in common—you want to work towards a common goal, or you determined that working together would be beneficial to both parties. Make sure your employees are aware of that, not just when the transition to co-working happens, but every day as they work together, to give them a reason to make use of the benefits that co-working offers. A tool is only as good as the person wielding it, but users will not want to use a tool at all if they forgot why they have it in the first place.
Cover picture: http://lacolecta.es/