Coworking: fuel for new ideas

Published on 21/04/2017 in Inspire

Coworking: fuel for new ideas

Coworking is no longer the exclusive field of freelancers and small start-ups. Scale-ups and bigger companies are also starting to see the advantages of this new way of working and doing business.

Coworking in itself is nothing new. Hundreds of years ago, artists’ and writers’ collectives worked together in the same place, but for themselves. The term coworking as we know it today, however, appeared in the technological sector in 2005. Literally, it means a location that provides space for self-employed workers and employees from different companies to ‘co-work’ or work alongside one another. So coworkers do not necessarily have a professional relationship with one another, but they work together in the same location in order to share the costs of an office. 

Networking hotspots

For many coworkers, however, this practical, cost-saving aspect is an additional bonus that is subordinate to the considerable opportunities that coworking can create. After all, coworking spaces are usually open areas that are conducive to contact between the various coworkers. 

The owners of coworking spaces enhance the community feeling by creating informal networking possibilities for their members, such as activities, courses or simply areas for relaxation. This social contact with people from different sectors makes networking far easier than elsewhere. Coworkers willingly share ideas and experiences with one another, do business with one another or build up new ventures with one another.

Cross-fertilization between big and small

This ongoing cross-fertilization between coworkers leads to a creative, extremely productive environment. This exceptional productivity is gradually beginning to attract the attention of bigger companies, too. To share in the rewards of this atmosphere, they are increasingly allowing their staff to use coworking spaces. 

However, the freelancers and start-ups or scale-ups also benefit from this growing presence of larger companies, Wouter Remaut explains. He is the CEO of the CoStation workspaces in Brussels and Ghent. “In our own CoStation in particular, thanks to the participation of a number of corporate stakeholders (with BNP Paribas Fortis, Proximus and the consultancy firm EY as partners in Ghent) we are witnessing some interesting cross-fertilization. 

For the scale-ups, access to the bigger companies is very advantageous. If our coworkers need financing or other expertise, they can contact the experts from our corporate companies far more quickly quite simply because they are in the same room. In other circumstances it would be much more time-consuming. But the opposite is true as well, Remaut goes on, because bigger firms sometimes lack the flexibility, creativity and drive that are very much part of in scale-ups, and the creativity of freelancers. By coworking, their staff are immersed in this bath of creative entrepreneurship.”

The spirit of entrepreneurship

Vincent Defrenne of NVISO, a cyber technology consultancy firm, would not put his scale-up anywhere else: “CoStation offers scale-ups like ours the perfect support. Not only do my colleagues have a pleasant place to work here, but what is more, it’s full of what I call “the spirit of entrepreneurship”. We all share the same interests and needs. This dynamic keeps our company alert and hungry.”

A bigger network

The Belgian company Nanopixel makes 3D visuals and applications in virtual reality. “But that is not always easy from our head office in Roeselare,” says Business Developer Jochen Van Lysebettens. “So we decided to open satellite offices: one in Antwerp and one at CoStation here in Ghent. According to Jochen, a satellite office in a coworking space offers additional advantages: “Each time a new person comes to work here, I go and introduce myself to find out whether we can do anything for one another. Our network has grown substantially as a result.”

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