Does Coworking Spark Innovation?

Does Coworking Spark Innovation?

This is a million dollar question.  The coworking sector is responding to people’s evolving work habits by offering a range of communities and space types.  The result is exponential growth in the number of coworking spaces and service offerings.  Larger companies are embracing coworking as part of their flexible workplace strategies.  As they do so, they are considering the ROI of this new way of working.  Coworking communities give individuals the opportunities to meet new people, network, generate ideas, and broaden one’s professional perspective.  Companies who support their employees who cowork view this value proposition as a platform to tap into new business or growth opportunities.  In other words, coworking communities are seen as catalysts of innovation.  But coworking is still a relatively recent trend, and it comes in many different forms.  While anecdotes and case studies suggest there is some validity to this innovation claim, we’re starting to ask some bigger questions around how this actually works.  My research team and I are in the midst of studying coworking and other similar settings to better understand what it means to build a “space for innovation.”  I recently sat down to discuss our work to date and what we see as some of the bigger questions and considerations.  Highlights from this discussion are available in the latest issue of Workplaces magazine.

Pete Bacevice, a senior associate at the global architecture and design firm HLW and a researcher studying co-working with the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Pete has been quoted in Harvard Business Review and The Boston Globe.