What Co-working Has Taught Us about the Value of Social Capital

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In 1995, a group of engineers based in Berlin, Germany got together in a shared space that would enable them to meet and work together on a regular basis. C-base was a hacker community that recognized the benefits of collaboration and social interaction and today is largely recognized as the first co-working space

Over 20 years later, co-working has grown by leaps and bounds, influencing everything from how we work and how companies treat their employees.

While the majority of individuals that currently work in co-working spaces tend to be remote workers and freelancers, the movement has greatly influenced the way society views work in general. Not just helping to redefine productivity and success, co-working has also been a driver in teaching us the inherent value of social capital in the workplace today.

Co-working has brought new meaning to professional networking

Networking has always been an important part of the business world. Once a relatively formal occasion, defined by organized get together with established business men from various industries, networking today looks a lot different. As co-working spaces provide room for individuals from all walks of life to work together, socializing is a huge part of the workspace. Not just beneficial for remote workers who don’t get out of the house much, the social element of co-working provides a platform for professional connections to be made. Rather than enforcing networking in a set environment that has been highly curated, co-working has illustrated the enormous benefit of allowing for networking to happen organically and serendipitously

Co-working gave rise to the value of sharing space

While not every company is ready or interested in sharing a workspace, there are many who have been bitten by the co-working bug, giving up their cubicles and water cooler forever. While there are myriad reasons for doing so, many businesses recognize the numerous professional and personal gains to be had from sharing space.

Not only does it cut out overhead costs, giving companies more wiggle room in their budget to invest in employees, but it also can make employees more sociable and open. By encouraging workers to be more receptive, they are more willing to seek out relationships with others in their environments, which can lead to fruitful collaborations in the future. In addition, many businesses cite that the architecture of co-working spaces, which often include a variety of areas built for socialization and productivity, has allowed teams to improve their bonds. Thanks to the variety of settings provided by shared spaces, professional teams have more opportunity to interact on a regular basis without feeling forced

Co-working has taught us to be less individualistic

Much like co-working has taught us how to value network for the people, not the setting, it has also taught us to be less individualistic, not just in the workplace, but in our daily lives. Over the last decade, co-working has greatly increased in popularity, which has led to a rise in co-living places for nomadic workers and freelancers. These developments show that there is a new generation of professionals who are willing to share their space and resources as they recognize it can be a more fulfilling way of life. No longer attached to set work hours, more employees than ever are demanding that their employers let them work remotely, and some companies have successfully developed completely remote teams of freelance talent that reside around the world

Whether you work in an office from nine to five, or on a laptop from a beach in Thailand, there is no doubt that co-working has influenced your workplace environment in recent years. As the future of work continues to progress, it’s important that companies consider the inherent value of social capital, not just based on the benefits provided in the workplace, but for the potential to create equal and fair societies.

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About Author

Ellie Martin is a co-founder of Startup Change group. Her works have been featured on Yahoo! , Wisebread, AOL, among others. She currently splits her time between her home office in New York and Israel. You may connect with her on Twitter.