We’ve come to a time where people are getting smarter and more outspoken about their working conditions. A lot of people are discovering that they can make the most out of everything because of technology. The power of mobility is not only giving them the freedom to balance their work and life but more importantly, it’s creating an avenue for collaboration and innovation outside their fields of expertise. This idea has given birth to co-working – a concept that embraces diverse collaboration among social and creative individuals who want to be in control of their work space and make an impact to the society.
Co-working spaces are reinventing the future of our economy. Across the globe, we can see the emergence of these collaborative working environments that focus on business or social entrepreneurship. As today’s industries require more cross-functional skills, co-working labs might just be the central hearth of productive workspace serving businesses and societies.
Unimaginable and Unconventional Breakthroughs
Co-working spaces are actually by nature cross-disciplinary and rarely focus on one single business vertical. Believe it or not, some of today’s biotech breakthroughs were made possible through collaborations of biologists with designers and choreographers. Unimaginable? Yes. Unconventional? Absolutely. It sounds weird from many angles and definitely disruptive especially for those who have kept a definitive boundary in their disciplines, but this growing trend might actually just become the norm in the next coming years. In fact, a study by software company Intuit revealed that by 2020, over 40% of the workforce, at least in America, will be freelancers and independent workers. The study also stated that 90% of the people they surveyed at co-working spaces said they felt more confident when co-working.
The idea of co-working is promising, creating opportunities for sustainable connections and collaborations. The question now is how do we break barriers between knowledge domains and create a collaborative atmosphere among people who have never worked with each other before? It all starts with engaging ourselves in collaborative efforts – by joining a collaborative hub. Knowmads and Impact Hub are just some of the various places that cultivate a culture of openness towards cross-functional disciplines for co-working newbies and experts alike.
These co-working hubs are reinventing the future of businesses by focusing on the human aspects of development. At the end of the day, the human attributes are the only thing that can genuinely connect us all. Knowmads, for instance, uses multiple tools to connect people based on human progress. Imagine a situation where a geo-strategist, a painter, and a nurse can start working together? Work differences and opinions might become hindrances but because co-working spaces offer free-form approaches that let collaborators engage with each other progressively without forcing things, the idea of different professionals working together harmoniously brings new opportunities and innovative solutions that make the world a better place.
Co-working provides a number of benefits that a traditional workspace can never offer. The feeling of being in control of your job, having the freedom to choose the projects you care about, and connecting with others and being a part of a unique circle are just some of the many things that co-working can provide individuals. And if there’s something that traditional businesses and organizations can learn from co-working spaces, it’s that giving people more space and support to be genuinely at their best can yield results that enable effective, sustainable, innovative and more socially responsible solutions to the different challenges we face every day.
Transformation has taken a new definition in this era of constant disruption. It’s no longer just a concept or a theory; transformation has already become a necessity and a reality.
Most of today’s societies – both developed and underdeveloped, face growing global crises and unprecedented changes that have profoundly shaken the core of traditional norms and practices. Disruption is starting to shape industries, markets, and our future. And people and businesses need to continuously grow and adapt to such changes in order to achieve and maintain success. If there’s anything that we can learn from these things, it’s that shifting our perceptions and strategies, and embracing disruption can lead to transformational results that we seek.
For the Presencing Institute’s Otto Scharmer, the global crises and unprecedented changes we currently face can be framed in three major divides namely the ecological divide, the social divide, and the spiritual-cultural divide. The ecological divide speaks of the disconnect between self and nature. The way we treat our environment has long-lasting effects be it on the air we breathe, the water we drink, or the food we eat. The social divide, the disconnect between self and other, speaks of the gap between social classes. Inequality, poverty, and violence continue to plague our societies because opportunities are not equal. The spiritual-cultural divide, which is the disconnect between self and self, is a reflection of the disconnect between our current self and our emerging future self. It speaks of the way we deal with our innermost self, thoughts, and feelings. Burnout, depression, and other mental health issues are manifestations of the spiritual-cultural divide. These three divides represent the massive failures of our institutions – we have created results that nobody really wanted. Thus, we need to change the way we view and face these challenges. We need to change towards a more humane and sustainable world that values every individual.
From Ego-system to Eco-system
How then should we shift our outdated economic and business thinking into contemporary practices that consider everyone’s well-being? Scharmer offered quite an interesting and informative article regarding this by introducing eight institutional innovations that as a set can help businesses run more intelligently across silos and boundaries. It seems that shifting our economic logic from an ego-system to eco-system awareness is the key create an economy that considers the well-being of all. From nature, entrepreneurship, money, technology, leadership, consumption, governance, and ownership, reinventing our processes and concepts, and encouraging collaboration in these vital areas can redefine the business environment and change the way individuals treat life and business on a fundamental level.
U.Lab, a hybrid massive open online course (MOOC) platform run by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (M.I.T.), recently offered two social innovation-focused programs – Leading Awareness-based Systems Change and How to Sense and Actualize the Future. The two programs offered unique insights on collaboration, co-creation, and succeeding in the emergent future. The programs’ introductory film says it all – a business cannot continue to run the way it goes and there’s a need to bring sustainability principles on core values of a business. True enough, what we need in this disruptive age is to create a profound innovation. We need new ways to connect to the more genuine aspects of our self and encourage consciousness in the way we manage things. Perhaps you would also agree that today’s businesses need to integrate personal and ethical values into their system to help make it more sustainable.
Futhermore, the edX-U.Lab course “Transforming Business, Society and Self” that Scharmer hosted is highly recommended. The course presented his Theory U framework and offered excellent and effective community practices that will really make you think deeply about how you can resolve the different divides.
Following U.Lab since its inception, it has brought a great first impression on a personal level. The courses offered new and authentic insights – leaving old business principles and gearing towards a fresh and spontaneous approach that really fuel growth and competitiveness. It’s actually quite idealistic but this approach will surely revolutionize today’s markets. These programs strengthen our individual capacities and the capabilities of organizations in responding to disruptive challenges through an innovation ecosystem.
Today’s emerging approaches are life-changing. Often we’re so consumed of the challenges the world brings that we somehow forget the very essence of our human existence. We forget about the people around us and focus so much on the problem instead of creating solutions. Understanding the concept of Theory U will make you realize that today’s challenges can be solved by allowing our current and best future self to listen with each other. It’s as simple as listening to others, listening with your heart and mind wide open, co-evolving, co-creating, and allowing inspiration and common will to emerge.
Patrick Roupin is an expert in innovation, design, strategy & entrepreneurship.
Ashrefunisa Shaik is an expert in organizational transformation & sustainability.