A sense of community is what sets coworking spaces apart
Despite the lack of ties that appears to characterise coworking spaces, freelancers who work there feel they’re among like-minded individuals, startups see opportunities to find potential partners and big corporations see a chance to keep their finger on the pulse. Everyone has the opportunity to establish contacts within a community-like environment. As a shared element, coworking builds trust and gives big companies access to young knowledge workers who tend to be sceptical towards corporate business. Entrepreneur Lena Schiller Clausen, who co-founded Betahaus Hamburg, says, “Many innovative projects fail before they start because a company’s established structures are too rigid. Fixed processes and hierarchical organisational diagrams belonging to big corporations leave no creative space for true development and standing on your own two feet. Coworking spaces intentionally offer people and big companies the opportunity of a low-threshold doorway into their communities. If you want to win over young employees working in creative and digital fields, you have to embrace a mindset that’s compatible with the highly networked, agile way in which this new digital generation works.”
WeWork is the biggest and fastest-growing coworking space provider in the world. They have been working with Airbnb since autumn 2017, so if you book an apartment in some cities using Airbnb, you will be told about the nearest WeWork Space and offered to book a space there straight after reserving your accommodation. Airbnb, meanwhile, is a tenant at WeWork in places like Berlin. In summer 2018, WeWork will be opening Germany’s biggest coworking space. Situated in the debis high-rise building designed by Renzo Piano at Potsdamer Platz, what will be the fifth WeWork Space is currently being set up. As recently as last autumn, WeWork moved into several floors at Breitscheidplatz on Kurfürstendamm, and some big companies have already moved in with them.
Miguel McKelvey, co-founder and managing director of WeWork, believes the trend is moving fast towards corporate cowork. “Today’s banks have to compete for the same talent as Airbnb and Facebook,” he says, “but if you want to win those people over, you need a hip place to work.” Corporate cowork is WeWork’s fastest-growing segment, currently expanding at over 20 percent annually. And freelancers, creative and startups are no longer the targets of advertising – they themselves are the advertising, used to attract an increasing number of companies. Karl L. Wambach, managing director of Brookfield Properties Germany, the landlord of Daimler-City to which the debis building belongs, is excited about this initiative which the coworking space giant is taking: “WeWork is making Potsdamer Platz into a new hub for the young, creative scene in Berlin.”
So there’s a lot of movement on the scene. It is definitely worthwhile for big firms to establish contact with coworking spaces so they can stay in touch with the latest trends, and they can do this without much economic risk. Will the coworking spaces principle become even more open as time goes on, and turn into an established, joint marketplace for freelance networkers and corporate business?