May 24, 2023

What is “openness” in coworking?

In coworking, "openness" refers to the fundamental characteristic of coworking spaces that promotes collaboration, accessibility, and a sense of community among its members. It encompasses several dimensions that contribute to creating an open and inclusive work environment.

  1. The Journal of Business Research highlights several vital elements contributing to coworking spaces' openness. These elements collectively create an open and collaborative atmosphere within coworking spaces. By promoting fluid team dynamics, worker autonomy, welcoming new members, and facilitating transparent cross-office collaboration, coworking spaces aim to foster an environment that encourages innovation, creativity, and mutual support among its members.
  2. The core coworking values, encompassing the diversity of knowledge exchange, reciprocity, emotional support, workplace friendship, and individual creativity, form the foundation of a supportive and cooperative coworking culture. They contribute to an environment facilitating personal and professional growth, collaboration, and overall well-being within the coworking community.
  3. Interestingly, there may be a discrepancy between the core coworking values and openness within coworking spaces and the extent to which incumbent firms, which comprise a significant portion of coworking occupants, embrace these values. While coworking spaces are often associated with openness, supportiveness, and cooperation, it is possible that incumbent firms, which may have established organizational cultures and structures, may not fully align with these values.
  4. Dedicated coworking providers, which specialize in offering coworking spaces as their primary service, tend to exhibit high levels of openness to membership. On the other hand, coworking spaces created by incumbent firms, which are established companies utilizing coworking arrangements for their employees, may not prioritize the same level of openness to outsiders. These spaces are primarily designed to serve as an extension of the company's workspace and may have membership restrictions or limitations on who can join.
  5. Incumbent firms' rejection of core coworking values, particularly about knowledge sharing and fluid team dynamics, can be influenced by concerns about protecting sensitive information. Balancing the benefits of coworking with the need for security is a complex decision that each organization must evaluate based on its unique circumstances and risk tolerance.
  6. Coworking spaces can benefit incumbent firms in terms of flexibility, cost efficiency, access to talent, and networking opportunities. However, fully embracing the core values of coworking, such as openness, may require significant cultural and operational shifts for incumbent firms that are accustomed to more traditional work arrangements.
  7. While the empirical data may indicate a gap between the ideal core coworking values and the actual practices in some coworking spaces, many coworking spaces strive to create supportive, collaborative, and inclusive environments. The diversity within the coworking industry should be considered when assessing the extent to which core coworking values are upheld.


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